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Under the Microscope: The Flyers 2019 Draft Class

Meltzer analyzes strengths, needs for improvement and ceiling of every Flyers Draft pick

by Bill Meltzer @NHLFlyers

The Flyers wrapped up the 2019 NHL Entry Draft taking seven players: four Americans (three from USHL, one from USNTDP), two Canadians (one from OHL, one from WHL), and one Russian (QMJHL). Positionally, the Flyers chose three defensemen, three forwards (three right wingers), and one goaltender.

None are likely to make an immediate jump to the NHL. Four are headed for the NCAA next season (one apiece to Michigan, Denver, Western Michigan and Minnesota). The other three will remain in their respective CHL leagues.

Here's a quick look at who these kids are, why they were selected and what ultimately may get them to Philadelphia:

DRAFTED: 1st Round, 14th overall (2019)
AGE: 18 (1-5-2001)
BORN: Anaheim Hills, CA
VITALS: 5'11", 175 pounds 

York internally ranked in the Flyers' pre-Draft top-10 list. The No. 1 defenseman on an extraordinarily deep USNTDP team that saw a new Draft record 17 players selected by NHL teams at various points in the Draft. He saw extensive ice time across all game situations.

York rates very highly as a complete player who is a solid defender and also has above-average offensive potential. Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher believes York may even have NHL power play quarterback upside down the line. The player set a one-season point-scoring record for a USNTDP defenseman during this past season.

Scouts sometimes talk about the "four S" traits they value in prospects: Skill, Speed, Size, and Smarts (i.e., hockey IQ). York lacks the size element but ranks very highly in the each of the other three.
1) Skating and pacing: Showed an ability to play at the pace of elite talent in his age category.
2) Excellent hockey sense, with and without the puck.
3) Very strong on retrievals and breakouts.
4) Poised under pressure.
5) Displayed strong consistency -- solid first-half, outstanding second half -- in his Draft-eligible season.

1) Muscle: York is of below-average size. He's elusive, but will need to get physically stronger to handle the pounding that pro defensemen take. 
2) Physicality: He need not be a crusher, but York lacks a physical element to his game. Sometimes over-relies on his smarts and finesse. Added strength would reduced his inherent disadvantage in the trenches against larger attackers.
3) Asserting leadership: York has a laid-back, go-with-the-flow type of personality. On the ultra-stacked USNTDP, that meant plenty of opportunities to shine for a team that usually imposed its will on opponents. Moving forward, York's teams may need him to be the one to restore order or swing momentum.

BRENT FLAHR: "All of our guys feel good about the package of skills and smarts... He's got good feet, very good on retrievals and starting breakouts, sound defense, good stick, good gaps, jumps into the play well and he's been able to play both ends of specialty teams."

DRAFTED: 2nd Round, 34th overall (2019)
AGE: 17 (7-8-2001)
BORN: Excelsior, MN
VITALS: 5'8", 165 pounds 

He had a dominating offensive campaign for Sioux City in the USHL (which has not traditionally been a high-scoring league and is rarely lit up by players entering their first-year of Draft eligibility). The pint-sized winger has an array of offensive skills. He keeps defenses guessing because he is a very good setup man as well as a fine finisher. Brink is also highly competitive in the mold of Danny Briere; despite being very small, he does not let himself get bullied. 
1) Outstanding hands: good stickhandler, very good passer, above-average finisher.
2) Creative: Has the know-how to find the seams in the defense.
3) Highly competitive and has a great motor.

1) Skating: Brink's skating style looks awkward and labored at times. Needs more explosiveness off the blocks to help him gain separation. Edgework is a strength, but other facets need considerable refinement. 
2) Matchups: Being as small as Brink is, there will always be defensive situations and certain offensive-zone matchups against tight checking that present difficulties for him. 
3) Staying healthy: This is a must for all prospects, but there can be particular concerns over whether the smallest players are more vulnerable to injuries on hits from larger players that inadvertently result in head contact. 

BRENT FLAHR: "Jumped right out of high school last season into the USHL and tore the league apart. He's a very intelligent player. Highly skilled. Very competitive. He's going to a good program at Denver. He's a player that has a chance to be a quality player going forward."

DRAFTED: 3rd Round, 72nd overall (2019)
AGE: 20 (3-20-1999)
BORN: White Lake, MI
VITALS: 6'3", 210 pounds 

A player in the style of players such as Cody Franson or Jamie Heward -- except a bit more physically aggressive and abrasive -- Attard is a big-framed righthanded defenseman who loves to shoot the puck. 
1) Outstanding shooter: Attard basically "shot the lights out" this season in the USHL; 30 goals and 64 points in 48 games with a shooting percentage of 20 percent. 
2) Physically mature: Attard is big and strong physically. He might carry a couple more pounds of muscle over the next few years but he's likely about as filled out as he will get.
3) Agitating and aggressive: Unlike some "gentle giant" types of players, Attard likes to initiate contact and has a mean streak to his game. 

1) Structure and discipline: Defensemen such as Brent Burns, who can successfully be rovers/fourth forward type of D-men and gamble with a high rate of success at the pro level, are few and far between. 

2) Skating: Reviews on Attard's skating are quite mixed; some negative, some positive. Flyers GM Brent Flahr said it's area where the player has been progressing and has opportunity for further improvement.

BRENT FLAHR: "Big right-shot defenseman are at a premium. He had a big year offensively, he's got a big shot. He's physical, he's mean, brings an edge. He's your late bloomer [type] that our guys are excited about." 

DRAFTED: 4th Round, 103rd overall (2019)
AGE: 17 (7-18-2001)
BORN: London, Ont.
VITALS: 6'1", 176 pounds 

Millman has progressed at a steady clip over each of the last two seasons and emerged as an OHL regular this past season on a good Saginaw team. He has good feet and puck-moving upside.
1) Skating: Millman is fairly tall but is already an above-average skater. 
2) First pass: There is nothing flashy about his game, but Millman is efficient with the puck.
3) Two-way upside: He's already a pretty good defender and puck mover for a player with only one full season in the OHL, and figures to gain in all areas as he gains experience and confidence with an expanded role.

1) Added strength: As with many CHL players his age, Millman needs to add significant muscle to his frame.
2) Offensive game: Millman does not currently project as a power-play defenseman or a big point-getter in general. His offensive skills are nascent and may or may not progress. 

BRENT FLAHR: "We think he's got a good foundation to his game, and we think he's going to play a lot of minutes for his team over the next couple seasons." 

DRAFTED: 6th Round, 165th overall (2019)
TEAM/LEAGUE: Victoriaville - QMJHL
AGE: 17 (7-3-2001)
BORN: Novosibirsk, Russia
VITALS: 5'11", 165 pounds 

Coming over to North America as an import player to the QMJHL, Serdyuk led all rookies in the league in scoring and named to the league's All-Rookie team. He formed an effective line in conjunction with countryman Mikhail Abramov (a Toronto Maple Leafs 4th round pick this year).
1) Finishing ability: You can't teach hands, and Serdyuk is gifted in this area. He has a very good shot and is accurate with it. 
2) Can score in bunches: When he got hot this past season, the Russian winger showed the ability to go on goal-scoring binges.
3) Deceptively strong lower body.

1) Two-way game: Right now, Serdyuk's primary allure is that he is a very good shooter. 
2) Streakiness: Serdyuk ran hot-and-cold at times this past season despite finishing with an average of slightly over one point per game. 
3) Playmaking: Serdyuk isn't a bad passer by any means but right now is much more of a goal-scorer than creator.   

BRENT FLAHR: "He had a good year in the Q, and we think he can continue to develop. He's shown that he can score at that level." 

DRAFTED: 6th Round, 169th overall (2019)
AGE: 18 (7-4-2000)
BORN: Meadow Lake, Sask.
VITALS: 6'4", 193 pounds 

Ross opened eyes in the WHL this season with Seattle after being recruited from the junior-A level (the SMHL's Camrose Kodiaks) mid-season. He posted a 2.76 GAA and .919 save percentage in 25 regular season games for Seattle and solidified himself as a starting goaltender.

1) Ross has a big frame and is naturally athletic. He moves well laterally, especially for a bigger goalie.
2) Competitiveness: Ross will battle for second saves and hang in when there's contact around his net.

1) Further refinement: Ross is fairly sound technically, according to Flyers goalie development coach Brady Robinson. However, like the vast majority of goalies his age, he can be cleaner on some of his initial saves, a little more patient, etc.
2) Efficiency: Ross sometimes could be a little tighter on his angles. He often been able to make saves regardless, but pro level shooters often make goalies -- no matter how big and athletic they are -- pay for being even slightly off-angle. 

BRENT FLAHR: "Roddy is kind of a late bloomer. It took him some time to start to grow into his body. Greiger [Flyers western Canada-based scout Mark Greig] and Brady liked what they saw of him. Big kid, pretty good technique."  

DRAFTED: 7th Round, 196th overall (2019)
TEAM/LEAGUE: Blaine High School-USHS & Omaha-USHL
AGE: 18 (8-9-2000)
BORN: Blaine, MN
VITALS: 6'0", 196 pounds 

Brodzinski, who comes from a hockey family, won the prestigious Mr. Hockey Award in 2018-19 as the top high school player in the state of Minnesota. He racked up 76 points (32g-44a) in 23 games at the high school level and moved up to the USHL, where he more than held his own (17 points in 19 games) with Omaha. 

1) Good hands: Brodzinski knows how to finish chances and is also a deft passer.
2) Thick frame: The player is hard to take off the puck because he is strong.

1) Skating: His skating need improvement to compete successfully in college and to have a chance for a pro career. 
2) At the high school level, Brodzinski was used to imposing his will on opponents. The checking got a bit tighter in the USHL and will only continue to do so -- as well as testing his abilities without the puck -- as he develops.

BRENT FLAHR: "We've known Bryce for awhile in Minnesota. He comes from a good background and he's shown he can score. Actually, he was supposed to go back to his high school team from the USHL but he tore up the high school opponents to such an extent that the USHL was more suitable competition for him."Video: Flyers GM speaks following second round of the draft

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