The Flyers moved down 4 spots in the draft and still got their puck moving defenseman. By doing so they gained a 7th rounder this year and a high second round pick in 2002. With what seems like small moves in the later rounds, they gained high picks in the 2002 draft. Looking at this draft, it seems like the Flyers are planning to build their team through the draft. They took 5 defenseman in the draft and 2 goalies. It seems like they are trying to stock their system and at the same time develop players at the minor league levels.
They acquired a potential 1st or 2nd line center with size and skill in Jiri Dopita, who is considered the best player outside of the NHL by the Hockey News. If he is anywhere near that, the Flyers stole him for a second round pick . This may in the future allow the Flyers to sign Jeremy Roenick and then trade Daymond Langkow . Also, the Flyers could chose not go after Roenick and try to sign Rob Blake instead.
Now if the Flyers can just deal their 10 year old headache, Eric Lindros. There seems to be no end in site for this saga. Eric and Carl still think they are larger than the game. My thought is that the Flyers will still go after Roenick even though they acquired Dopita. This will allow the team to get the fans excited and put the Lindros dealings “on the back burner” as Clarke promised. The Flyers future is bright.
A pick-by-pick draft review follows.
1st Round (# 27)
Jeff Woywitka (D)
The Flyers move down from the 23rd spot in the draft to the 27th spot. Their main reason was because all of their highly regarded defensive prospects were still on the board. Flyers’ scouts expressed interest in Tim Gleason, Mark Popovic, Jeff Woywitka, and Fedor Tyutin. Bob Clarke gambled that out of these kids, one of them, preferably Woywitka, would be there at the 27th spot. The move seems to have paid off. The Flyers gain additional draft picks and they still got their man. Woywitka is the one of the youngest out of the mobile defenseman. He can play the skating game and the physical game also. Jeff Woyitka is compared to current Flyer Dan McGillis. Although very young, his build is similar to McGillis and hockey sense seems to be comparable. However, Woyitka skating is much better than the current Flyer blue liner. Defensemen take longer to come into their own, so this defenseman will need plenty of grooming before jumping to the big club. Jeff’s junior coach will be Brent Sutter who coaches the Red Deer Rebels. This is one of the better picks made in the last several years, including the selections of Brian Boucher, Justin Williams, and even Simon Gagne.
Jeff will once again be on the blue line of Red Deer next season. Look for him to better his +45 plus/minus rating and work on his physical play. He will also need to bulk up to at least 210 pounds.
3rd Round (#95 overall)
Patrick Sharp (C)
Patrick Sharp stepped right into the lineup for Vermont this season. He was very versatile and showed good speed and decent puck skills. The 19-year-old won the rookie of the year award for his team. He is a project, but he will be given every chance to work on his game at the college level. The center goes to the front of the net and is not afraid of working near the boards.
5th Round (#146 overall)
Jussi Timonen (D)
Jussi is the younger brother of Nashville’s Kimmo Timonen. Jussi is a smooth skater and has better than average puck skills that have been compared by Flyers scouts to former Flyer Janne Niinimaa. Timonen can skate like the wind, however hitting is not one of his strong suits. He could make a quality NHL defenseman. He will need some time to adapt to the NHL style of play. You cannot teach speed and ice vision, both of which Jussi Timonen has. He may be a steal in the 5th round.
5th Round (#158 overall)
Bernd Bruckler (G)
Bernd Bruckler is the first player taken from Austria by the Flyers. He went against lesser talents in the USHL but will face stiffer competition now that he is with University of Wisconsin. He has decent size and is very quick with his glove. The Flyers want to see how he fares against a higher level of forwards.
5th Round (#158 overall)
Roman Malek (G)
Many will compare Malek to current Flyer’s goalie Roman Cechmanek. They are both from the Czech Republic, but that is where it ends. Malek is a very small goalie who relies on his reflexes. Scouts state that he has a great glove hand but flops on certain occasions (ala Ron Hextall). Malek seems to be a great team player and is willing to work hard to improve his game. He is at least several years away from the NHL. In the NHL you can never have too many goaltending prospects and Malek is a good one.
6th Round (#172 overall)
Dennis Seidenberg (D)
This is the first German player ever selected by the Flyers. Seidenberg is a mobile skating defenseman with great ice vision. He tends not to go offensive however, instead holding down the fort in the defensive zone. He is not overly big or physical . He knows the game of hockey and could help the Flyers down the line. He will need to bulk up and learn to play the NHL brand of hockey. Still, this was a wise pick in the 6th round.
6th Round (#177 overall)
Andrei Razin (C)
Andrei is 27 years old and is not the Flyers type of player. If Bob Clarke dislikes the old style Russian players, he is going to dislike the finesse-oriented Andrei Razin. Although the Flyers have said he could compete for a spot on the third line, he is the type player that really could only be effective when he is centering a scoring line. I do not see a spot for him in the Flyers system. However, he may be used as trade bait to pick up additional draft picks in upcoming drafts. Keep an eye on him to be traded to one of the expansion teams. Several lesser teams are always looking for scoring talent and Ruzin, like Espen Knutsen, could provide some instant offense for a non-contender.
7th Round (#208 overall)
Thierry Douville (D)
This kid is a monster. He plays a pure nasty style of play that will endear him to the Flyer fans. Thierry took over his team’s enforcer role at the start of the season. A lot of his penalty minutes were roughing and fighting. His fighting skills are slightly above average. He does however skate well for such a huge man. He will go to war for his team. However, he is a long shot to make the NHL. Thierry seems to be always out of position because of trying to dismantle forwards. He could be an enforcer, either as a 7th defenseman or move him up front as an extra forward.
7th Round (#225 overall)
David Printz (D)
Printz is a big defenseman with nice size and skill. However he plays at a very low level and it is hard to assess his talent. The old saying is you can not teach size. He is a project, but the Flyers will be willing to let him grow. He will play for Northern Michigan next season. That will allow the Flyers to watch him compete with players with higher skill.