Basically the Flyers didn’t have many selections this season. We had zero picks in the 1st and 2nd due to the Chris Pronger trade and our trip to the Eastern Conference finals in 2008. Our 2nd this year was sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning as a conditional pick on the acquisition of Valclav Prospal for a playoff run. Since we won our 1st two rounds we ended up not having a pick in the first two selection rounds this year.
When we did finally pick we went goalie. It was the 24th ranked goaltender in among North American netminders. At that point the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 10th ranked European goalies had come off the board as well as a non-ranked European goalie and the top ranked North American goalie. The position is a fickle one to draft, and when Holmgren was interviewed about Adam Morrison‘s selection 81st overall, he mentioned that he was a guy his scouts thought very highly of. In 13 appearances this season with the Saskatoon Blades oh the WHL, the 18 year old Morrison registered a 0.907 sv%, a 2.49 GAA, a record of 9-1-1, and earned a shut out. Morrison was recently invited to a goaltenders camp to decide the U-18 netminder for team Canada at the World Juniors, and will be a starter for the Blades next season.
The Flyers other pick in the 3rd round, 87th overall, turned out to be a pretty good bargain. Simon Bertilsson is a defender in the Elitserien of Sweden on Brynäs IF. He’s an all around player who would’ve gotten taken a lot higher had it not been for the depth of this year’s draft. To read the HockeysFuture.com featured article about Bertilsson go here.
Pick #142 (5th Round): Nicola Riopel (G) — Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
- Basically this guy was older and had a couple of rough seasons in the high scoring QMJHL his first two season. In his 3rd season he posted a record of 43-11-4 with a 2.05 GAA and 0.930 sv%. In the playoffs he had a 2.03 GAA and a 0.936 sv%. In the 5th round this kid is a potential steal as someone who can walk into Flyers camp this season, get a contract, and play for the new AHL team in 2009-10.
Pick #153 (6th Round): Dave Labreque (C) — Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
- Looks like a playmaker/passer in the QMJHL. He put up pretty decent numbers in his second full year of Canadian Juniors action in both the regular season and playoffs. Unfortunately it was the QMJHL, and the league is very high in scoring. It’s possible that he could turn into a decent offensive player. He does have a bit of an edge.
Pick #172 (6th Round): Eric Wellwood (LW) — Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
- He’s a fast kid on the Memorial Cup Champion Windsor Spitfires whose brother plays for the Vancouver Canucks. He’s not as talented as his brother Kyle Wellwood, but he had a very good playoff performance this past postseason despite mediocre regular season numbers. If he continues to play the way he did in the OHL and CHL playoffs he could be a steal. He’s got a long way to go though.
Pick #196 (7th Round): Oliver Lauridsen (D) – St. Cloud State Huskies (NCAA)
- Danish monster shut-down defenseman at 6’6, 220 lbs. He’s already bigger than Pronger. I don’t know if he can pan out, but he sure has the size. As with most bigger guys his skating needs work.
Holmgren Quotes About Chris Pronger
Holmgren on what Pronger brings to the Flyers:
“[Pronger] brings a lot of things to any team he’s on. First of all he’s a proven winner, and secondly he obviously brings the size. He can pass the puck as well as anybody, and he brings a nice physical presence both in stature and in the way he plays so I think he’s an ideal fit on our team. I think he’s going to make all of our defensemen on our team better around him, and he’ll be an excellent role model for all of our young players in our organization.”
Holmgren on the cost of acquiring Pronger:
“[The future considerations traded to Anaheim] are a lot to give up. Absolutely. Ask me a year from now or a couple of years from now if it’s worth it, and it’s difficult. I mean Joffrey Lupul is a fine young man and a good player, and Luca Sbisa is going to be a good player, and then obviously the unknowns are the draft picks. But we’re trying to win here, and Chris [Pronger] is a guy that can help us get closer to acheiving our goal.”
Holmgren on defensive philosophy and changes to the lineup over the past couple of seasons:
“I’ve said all along, all year long, that I like our team, and over the last few years I think we’ve sort of changed our—I don’t know if it’s our approach—but we’ve changed our our defense around. And we have mobility, and puck movement, and speed back there, but you don’t get many opportunities to acquire a guy like Chris [Pronger] because of all of those things I mentioned earlier. In my opinion he’s a total package. He’s a proven winner, and I think his presence and everything he’s about will be a tremendous asset to our organization.”