At the fore front of is the addition of getting the No. 8 overall pick in tonight’s First Round extravaganza.
With a handful of top-tier talent at their fingertips, the question that the Flyers scouting staff have been working overtime within the last 24 hours now remains…Who do they choose?
Of course we know anything can happen in a First Round of the NHL Draft, but for now, here's a brief look at what Central Scouting is predicting to be chosen within the No. 6-9 slots in the Draft for North American skaters as well as the top European skaters. Also included are the Top goaltender in North America & Europe.
SEAN COUTURIER - Center
• Through the first round of the 2011 playoffs, he was second on the Voltigeurs with eight points (3-5--8) in their four-game series win over Chicoutimi.
• After finishing in a tie for fourth in league scoring with 96 points (36-60--96) this season, Couturier was named the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player, the Top 2011 Draft Prospect and selected a First-Team All-Star. He also finished second in the league with a plus-55 rating.
• He was the youngest and only draft-eligible player on Team Canada at the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships, winning a silver medal. He also won a gold medal with Canada’s Under-18 team at the 2009 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament.
• Couturier led the QMJHL in scoring with 96 points (41-55--96) in 2009-10, becoming the first 17-year-old to lead the league in scoring since Sidney Crosby of the Rimouski Oceanic in 2004-05. He also led the team with a plus-62 rating while often playing against the opposition’s top players.THE SCOUTS SAY…
“At his size, he'll be hard to pass up in the draft. He possesses a very good work ethic and he's out there for every important faceoff. He's very responsible in the defensive aspect of the game -- a rare quality for such a young player in junior hockey."
SVEN BAERTSCHI – Left Wing
• In 2010-11, Baertschi led all Western Hockey League rookies in scoring with 85 points (34-51--85) in 66 games and was named the WHL’s Western Conference Rookie of the Year. In the 2011 WHL playoffs he ranked first among rookies and was tied for second overall with 27 points (10-17--27) in 21 games.
• He represented Team Switzerland at the 2011 World Junior Championships playing alongside Portland teammate and NY Islanders prospect Nino Niederreiter (5th overall by in 2010). Baertschi had a goal and an assist in helping Switzerland finish fifth.
• Baertschi is one of four Portland Winterhawks ranked by Central Scouting this season -- he is joined by defensemen Joe Morrow (No. 12 ranked) and Tyler Wotherspoon (No. 40 ranked) and regular linemate Ty Rattie (No. 17 ranked). In 2010, eight players were drafted from Portland.THE SCOUTS SAY…
"Baertschi is a finesse player. He has very quick hands and is a deft puckhandler. His radar vision probably makes him the best in the WHL at distributing the puck."
RYAN STROME – Center
• Strome finished third in the Ontario Hockey League scoring with 106 points (33-73--106) in 65 games, leading the IceDogs to a franchise best 45 wins and 96 points in 2010-11. His 1.63 points-per-game average ranked first among all the top producing OHL forwards this season.
• He was voted the Most Improved Player and the Best Playmaker in the 2011 OHL Eastern Conference Coaches Poll. Strome also tied for the Best Stickhandler with Ryan Spooner, drafted 45th overall by Boston in 2010.THE SCOUTS SAY…
"He skates very well and has very good speed. He's a creative playmaker who sees the ice very well. He goes to the net and battles in front. He is able to get to rebounds and loose pucks in front. He has good hands and has scored some goals off tip-ins in front."
RYAN MURPHY – Defenseman
• In 2010-11, Murphy finished first among Ontario Hockey League defensemen with 26 goals and second with 79 points (26-53--79) in 63 games. He was voted into the top three by the league’s Western Conference coaches in the Smartest Player and Best Offensive Defenseman category this season.
• As a rookie with Kitchener in 2010, he was an integral part of the team’s playoff run recording 17 points (5-12--17) in 20 games, helping the Rangers reach the semi-finals.THE SCOUTS SAY…
"Ryan's work on the power play is outstanding, He sees the ice very well and is creative, [has] excellent passing ability and a great shot that he gets through to the net. (He's) also an excellent all-round skater. He's got real good mobility. He's a bit of a gambler. He does move the puck well, but he's going to have to concentrate on making good plays."
JOHN GIBSON – Goaltender
• Gibson has committed to the University of Michigan for the fall of 2011.
• He won gold for Team USA at the 2011 Under-18 World Championships in Germany. He backstopped the U.S. to back-to-back overtime wins in the semifinal against Canada and the final against Sweden. Gibson was named the Best Goaltender of the tournament for his 2.34 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.
• He finished the USHL regular season with a 9-4-3 record in 17 games. THE SCOUTS SAY…
"John has great net coverage and size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds), and is very strong. He's sound technically, moves very well laterally and is controlled. He's calm, not busy."
EUROPEANSADAM LARSSON - Defenseman
• Larsson is currently competing in the Elitserien championship final against Frajestad after Skellefea AIK defeated Linkoping 4-3 and Lulea 4-2 in the first two rounds.
• Playing in his second full season with Skelleftea in 2010-11, he was only the third defenseman to make his Elite League debut at 16 years of age, following in the footsteps of long-time NHL defenseman Calle Johansson and current Tampa Bay blueliner Victor Hedman. His first game remains his most memorable hockey moment -- “I had been sitting in the stands since age seven, now I was playing”. THE SCOUTS SAY…
“Adam is one of the best skater’s in this year’s draft -- he has excellent speed and mobility. He also has patient puck handling abilities and can surprise an opponent with a solid hit. His size and skating ability make him comparable with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman.”
MIKA ZIBANEJAD - Center
• In 2010-11, Zibanejad began the season with Djurgarden’s junior team before getting the call up to the Swedish Elite League in December. He registered nine points (5-4--9) in 26 games in the Elite League and 21 points (12-9--21) in 27 games with the junior team.
• He turned heads for Team Sweden at the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Timmins, Ontario, recording five goals and nine points in six games helping lead Sweden to a bronze medal. THE SCOUTS SAY…
"Mika's a real power forward but also has soft hands, good vision and fine skating skills. He has tremendous balance and is hard to knock off the puck. He's very strong in the battles along the boards, finishes checks with authority and has a heavy shot that he gets off quickly. Mika's a competitive player who is willing to pay the price to score a goal. He does have a very good understanding of his defensive duties."
JONAS BRODIN - Defenseman
• Brodin had four assists in 42 games playing as a 17-year-old in the Swedish Elite league in 2010-11. Farjestad defeated Skelleftea in five games in the final to claim the ninth championship in the club’s history -- they lost just two games in the post-season.
• He was joined on the blue line by fellow Swedish prospect and good friend Oscar Klefbom (No. 6 ranked European skater). Both players competed for Team Sweden at the 2011 Under-18 World Championships helping Sweden win a silver medal. THE SCOUTS SAY…
"Brodin is a very mature defenseman with good mobility, smarts and coolness. He's effective in one-on-one situations. He has an average frame, but could use a little more weight."
SAMU PERHONEN - Goaltender
• Perhonen finished the 2010-11 season with a 2.71 GAA and .922 save percentage in 29 games for Junior A SM-liiga. He led his team to the league championship with a 2.14 GAA and .930 save percentage in seven games and also posted a 2.80 GAA and .918 save percentage in five international contests.
• In four appearances for fifth-place Finland at the Under-18 World Championship, he was 2-2-0 with a 3.52 GAA and .875 save percentage. He made 27 saves in a 5-3 victory over the Czech Republic.