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Riley Armstrong had popped in to check on Denver Barkey and Oliver Bonk last year on an evening when the London Knights took on the Guelph Storm. Armstrong wasn’t there to scout – as the club’s director of player development, he’s in charge of the staff that looks after prospects the Flyers have already drafted. But on that night, someone else caught his eye.

“Going into the game I’m never really [thinking] ‘oh who's the next draft class coming up,’: Armstrong said, “[but] I constantly was checking Elite Prospects being like who's this #7 on the Guelph Storm? 

As it turned out, #7 on the Guelph Storm was Jett Luchanko. who had long ago drawn the attention of the Flyers’ Ontario-based scouts. They had gotten word of a promising center who was lurking in the weeds a bit in the longtime OHL outpost west of Toronto. He’d posted just 14 points over 46games in his first OHL season but took a giant leap in his second, posting 20 goals and 54 assists for 74 points in 68 games.

The Flyers saw this coming early in that campaign and were already focusing on Luchanko by the time the Under-18 World Championships rolled around.  He had a two-goal, five-assist tournament to help Canada win the gold medal, and that performance put him on the radar of a lot more teams, much to Briere’s chagrin.

“We didn't want him to play too too well,” Briere said with a smile following the first round of the draft. “[We were] trying to keep it keep him hidden. Our guys were really high on him really early in the season and he just kept getting better and better, and he saw his stock just kept increasing. So were not too excited about that, the fact that he kept climbing up.”

Now that they have Luchanko though, the Flyers are excited for him to climb as far as he can. One intriguing variable about the center is that he doesn’t even turn 18 until August; he was only eligible for this draft by about three weeks. 

“We feel he's just he's just starting to tap his potential,” Briere said. “He's always one of the hardest workers on both sides of the ice. His vision, his hockey sense are high-end. There's obviously some things that will work with them to develop, but to have a guy understand already both sides of the ice the way he does, and then you look the way he played – [Guelph] was a team that just barely made the playoffs, and he was the engine for that team, he drove the play. So that's really exciting for us.”

Luchanko has given Flyers fans a glimpse of what the scouting staff saw early in the team’s development camp. It’s just been drills so far, but his speed and shot quality are apparent. The first glimpse of game play won’t come until the camp’s finale, a scrimmage on Saturday evening.

“Just seeing them out here you could tell he's a little bit nervous,” Armstrong said. “But I think that's comes with the nature of the territory too, his first little camp here and also being a first round pick, so there's a little bit of added pressure there. “But we talk him through that stuff and help him adjust and understand kind of what he who he is as a player. He looks good out here I thought, that the first little skate we did. You can tell his strength is  skating, he can fly up and down the rink.”

Like most players who enter their first development camp after their draft, Luchanko is just trying to take it all in this week.  The draft is a whirlwind for all players – they head to the draft site with no idea where they’re headed next, and then they’re whisked away to their new team’s city for a few days of camp.  So far, Luchanko has been able to briefly meet John Tortorella and a few of the Flyers’ roster players who have stayed in the area this summer, including Cam York and Joel Farabee. 

“I'm not sure if it's really sunk in yet but because it's been it's been really busy, but it's a really exciting time and I'm really grateful to be here,” Luchanko said Monday. “I think for me I'm always just trying to work hard every single day and I think good things come from that. I’m just [focusing] on getting to work and getting started here.”

Luchanko likely still has a multi-year road to the NHL roster, but as a team with a focus on the future anyway, the Flyers are excited about what that future might hold.

“It was pretty cool to see that experience of him playing and kind of catching my eye [earlier this year],” Armstrong said.  “Obviously he caught a lot of others too.”