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Since the Draft...

Flyers contributor updates the status of the Class of 2020

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer / philadelphiaflyers.com

The Philadelphia Flyers selected a total of five players in the 2020 NHL Draft. Here's a look at notable developments affecting each of the five prospects since the Draft was held on October 6-7.

TYSON FOERSTER: 1st ROUND - 23rd overall (OHL)

The Ontario Hockey League has not publicly identified a targeted start date for the 2020-21 regular season. However, Lisa MacLeod, the minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries for the Province of Ontario, recently told the media that a December start is the league's goal.
 
Foerster, who plays for the Barrie Colts, has made productive use of his league's extended off-season during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has been working extensively on his skating -- the primary factor that knocked him down to the lower end of the 2020 Draft's first round before the Flyers selected him 23rd overall -- with Barrie skating coach Paul Matheson.
 
Matheson has told several media outlets that Foerster's skating technique has improved by leaps and bounds since March. First and foremost, the player is much less reliant on his upper body to do hard labor. Although it is still a work in progress for the player to make what he's learned into second nature while continuing to refine the efficiency of his stride and add explosiveness to his first step, Foerster's rapid rate of progress has been encouraging. Foerster has also worked hard off the ice.
 
"I am so psyched to play next season. I worked my tail off this summer. The skating is going to be a lot better. I think I will be bigger, stronger and a better all-around player. The NHL is my goal and I'm going to keep pushing for that," Foerster said on Flyers Radio 24/7 after his selection.
 
On Oct. 14, the Flyers signed Foerster to an entry-level contract. The deal is slide-rule eligible, meaning that the 18-year-old can be reassigned to the Colts in both 2020-21 and 2021-22 without the clock ticking against the first year of his NHL contract or the NHL-mandated 50-contract maximum per team.
 
Prior to the NHL Draft, Foerster was named to Hockey Canada's 2020-21 World Junior Championship evaluation roster. The International Ice Hockey Federation announced this week that the WJC will take place in Edmonton (in a similar "bubble" setup to the NHL's 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs) from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5. Even if Foerster does not earn a Team Canada roster spot this year, he stands a good chance of being selected to represent his country for the 2021-22 tournament as a 19-year-old.
 
EMIL ANDRAE: 2nd ROUND: 54th Overall (SHL)

He is another player who put in month after month of hard work during the offseason; cutting his body fat from around 15 percent to 10 percent while seeing benefits to his skating. The 18-year-old already plays regularly against pros in Sweden's top league, the SHL. During the season to date, Andrae has dressed in every game played by HV71 Jönköping.
 
At this early stage of his pro career, Andrae mostly plays on the third pairing. He has chipped in a pair of assists while averaging 13:41 of ice time. Andrae has recorded eight shots on goal, been credited with four hits, four blocked shots and has been on the ice for four even-strength goals for his team and six goals against. At 5-foot-9 and 181 pounds, Andrae isn't big but has a sturdy, low-center of gravity and is a highly competitive young player.
 
Andrae, who captained Team Sweden's national under-18 squad, has been a regular on national teams in every age category as he's climbed the developmental ladder. He stands a good chance of being part of the 2020-21 World Junior Championships squad.
 
ZAYDE WISDOM: 4th ROUND: 94th Overall (OHL)

The tenacious and hard-working Kingston Frontenacs (OHL) power forward became the first of the Flyers' 2020 draftees to sign an entry-level contract with the organization; agreeing to his slide-rule eligible contract on October 12. 
 
"It was somewhat surprising to us that Wisdom was still available in the late third and we scrambled to try to pick up an extra pick there to select him. I think he's got an understated skill level. His hands are pretty good. He has a good shot. He has good instincts. He goes to the right places on the ice. When you combine that with his relentless pursuit of pucks, his ability to forecheck and finish checks, it's a pretty attractive package," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said.
 
As with Foerster, Wisdom's 2020-21 season is in a holding pattern while awaiting a timetable from the Ontario Hockey League on when the season will begin. For his part, Wisdom is very eager to get going on on his next season and to start rewarding the Flyers for the vote of confidence in his potential shown not only by trading up to draft him but also in wasting no time to sign him to his first professional contract. He knows what got him this far and what he''l need to do to take the next steps toward eventually competing for an NHL job.
 
"I would say more than 90 percent of my game is work ethic and perseverance. I've worked hard and grinded my whole life to get to this moment right now and it feels amazing to be here finally," Wisdom said.
 
ELLIOTT DESNOYERS: 5th ROUND: 135th Overall (QMJHL)

A proven two-way forward at the major junior level who is comfortable playing center or wing, the Flyers believe there is also some offensive upside. Desnoyers didn't get regular opportunities to show off the offensive part of his game as a bottom-six forward and penalty killer for a powerhouse Moncton Wildcats team (50-13-1 record last season) but he is now seeing an expanded role after joining the Halifax Mooseheads.
 
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) was the first of the three CHL-affiliated circuits (OHL, QMJHL, and the Western Hockey League) to get its 2020-21 regular season underway. Thus far, Desnoyers has posted six points (2g-4a) through his first six games with Halifax.
 
This past Saturday, Denoyers was instrumental in the Mooseheads' 5-4 shootout win over the Saint John Seadogs. Desnoyers enjoyed a two-point game, including a solo effort goal.
 
On the goal sequence, Desnoyers intercepted the puck in the neutral zone, skating up the left wing. At the top of the circle, he cut in and used a defenseman as a partial screen to beat goalie Creed Jones. Earlier, Desoyers assisted on a power play goal that temporarily gave the Mooseheads a 2-0 lead in the first period. After regulation and OT, Jones denied Desnoyers on a shootout attempt.
 


 
Halifax returns to action on Friday night when they pay a visit to Cape Breton. The Mooseheads are 2-3-1 to date, while the Eagles are 2-4-0.
 
As a CHL-affiliated player, the Flyers hold Desnoyers' exclusive NHL signing rights until June 1, 2022.
 
CONNOR McCLENNON: 5th ROUND: 178th Overall (WHL)

 

The high-scoring Winnipeg Ice right winger is fully healed from a collarbone injury that shortened his 2019-20 season prior to the pandemic-driven eventual cancelation of the remainder of last season.
 
The 5-foot-8 McClennon has been working to add sufficient weight to begin the 2020-21 season at least at 170 pounds.
 
Last week, the Western Hockey League announced a planned Jan. 8, 2021 start date for the next regular season.
 
As with the Ontario League, one of the pandemic-related issues that had been sorted out by the WHL is border crossings. The Western League features an entire U.S. division (Portland Winterhawks, Everett Silvertips, Spokane Chiefs, Seattle Thunderbirds, and Tri-City Americans). The league will work around the problem by having every team play an entirely intra-division schedule for all four divisions.
 
McClennon's Winnipeg team, which is coached by former NHL player James Patrick (the uncle of Flyers' center Nolan Patrick), finished in second place last season in the East Division; five points behind the Prince Albert Raiders. The division's other clubs are the Brandon Wheat Kings, Saskatoon Blades, Regina Pats and Moose Jaw Warriors.

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