2014 NHL Draft: Philadelphia Flyers draft review

By Jashvina Shah

Travis Sanheim - Philadelphia Flyers

Photo: The Philadelphia Flyers once again went heavy on defense at the draft, selecting Travis Sanheim 17th overall and adding three other defensemen in the later rounds. (courtesy of Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The home team did not make much of a splash at the 2014 NHL Draft, failing to trade up for a higher pick in the first round. The Philadelphia Flyers again made defense a priority, drafting Travis Sanheim with their 17th overall pick. They added two more defensemen before the night was done, adding Mark Friedman in the third round.

Half of Philadelphia’s prospects have some strengths but also are question marks into whether or not they can grow enough to play in the NHL. Including Oskar Lindblom, a two-way forward who could turn out to be a late-round steal for the Flyers.

Travis Sanheim, D, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
1st round, 17th overall
Height: 6-3 Weight: 190 lbs

The Flyers tried trading up in the draft but were unable to, and for the second straight year, they used their first-round pick to acquire a defenseman. They selected Travis Sanheim 17th overall, and he became the ninth defenseman Philadelphia has taken since 2012.

Philadelphia already has a rich defensive corps, but Sanheim may turn out to be one of the organization’s best defenders. He improved over the past season with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL and played well for Canada in the U18 World Championship. He finished his rookie season in Calgary with 29 points (five goals, 24 assists) and a plus-25 rating in 67 games.

Sanheim needs to work on his defensive skills, but he is a two-way defender who can help the offense. One of his best assets is moving the puck and can read the ice well. He has the chance of becoming another offensive-helping defensemen like the few the Flyers already have in the system.

Ranked 30th by ISS in early June, Sanheim will likely need some more time in the WHL to work on his defensive skills and bulk up. But if he improves, he could be a scoring defensemen for the Flyers in the future.

Sanheim met with the media after being chosen by the Flyers, with some of his comments captured in this HF video.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel, RW, Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)
2nd round, 48th overall
Height: 5-11 Weight: 180 lbs

Aube-Kubel was Philadelphia’s first forward pick of the draft. It marked the first right wing the Flyers have drafted since they took Petr Placek and Derek Mathers in rounds six and seven of the 2011 draft.

The Flyers need depth at forward and at right wing, as many prospects in the Philadelphia organization are defensemen. The team also needs scoring talent, and while Aube-Kubel has some offensive progress to make, he might be that player.

He is a two-way forward and can play well defensively. But on the offensive end, the he can score, create chances, and is an overall versatile player.

“I have good hockey sense, offensively, and my skating ability [is] really good,” Aube-Kubel said. “This year I worked hard [at getting] better defensively and [improving] my consistency.”

With the Foreurs this past season, Aube-Kubel netted 53 points (22 goals, 31 assists) in 65 contests. Over 24 playoff games he added 13 points.

Mark Friedman, D, Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
3rd round, 86th overall
Height: 5-10, Weight: 185 lbs

The Flyers returned to drafting defensemen in the third round as they took Mark Friedman 86th overall. At 5’10, Friedman is an undersized defenseman but has offensive capabilities.

Friedman returned to the USHL and the Waterloo Black Hawks last season as an issue with classes prevented him from attending Bowling Green last fall. He will attend Bowling Green in the fall, and benefited from an extra season with Waterloo.

With the Black Hawks, Friedman netted 40 points and a plus-22 rating, the second-highest scoring defenseman on the team despite missing nine games. Waterloo lost in the Clark Cup Championship final to the Indiana Ice.

In the past the Flyers have drafted offensive defensemen – like Shayne Gostisbehere, who helped lead Union to its first NCAA championship.

Oskar Lindblom, LW, Brynas Jr. (SuperElit)
5th round, 138th overall
Height: 6-2, Weight: 187 lbs

The Flyers returned to shoring up their offense in the fifth round, drafting Oskar Lindblom 138th overall. Lindblom was the first European skater drafted by the Flyers this year and the first since they took Robert Hagg last season.

There are many questions about Lindblom’s play overall, but if he develops well, he could turn into a steal for the Flyers.

His stock fell entering the draft after he struggled this season. Over 43 games with Brynas U20 in Sweden, he netted 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists) and spent four games in the SHL.

He can play well offensively, but can only score from near the net and his skating ability has been questioned as well. But Lindblom’s defensive play is an asset, and he plays a strong, physical game.

If his skating improves and he progresses well over the next few years, he could develop into a strong two-way forward for the Flyers.

Radel Fazleev, C, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
6th round, 168th overall
Height: 6-0, Weight: 180 lbs

Philadelphia continued on the forward front with their next pick, drafting center Radel Fazleev. The theme of two-way forwards continued, as Fazleev is a versatile player with good hockey IQ who plays well without the puck.

Fazleev, who played for the Calgary Hitmen with fellow recruit Sanheim, finished with 25 points over 38 games in the WHL. He missed the final 34 games of the regular season because of a broken wrist, but his play seemed unaffected, as he managed three goals and four assists in six playoff games.

Jesper Pettersson, D, Linkoping HC (SHL)
7th round, 198th overall
Height: 5-9, Weight: 180 lbs

The Flyers used their last pick of the draft on Jesper Pettersson, a defenseman from Sweden.

At 5’8, Pettersson is an extremely small defenseman. Although small defensemen tend to have offensive upsides, Pettersson is primarily focused on defense and currently has little offensive upside.

He spent the past season playing for Linkoping in the SHL, where he appeared in 48 games. Between the past two seasons, Pettersson has dressed in 62 SHL games. In his first season, he netted three points over 14 games. This past season, he finished with one assist.