2021 NHL Draft: 5 First-Round Targets for Flyers
The 2021 NHL Draft is upon us. The draft has served as the foundation for building a team – just a quick look at the Tampa Bay Lightning roster shows that – and as the Flyers prepare for another draft, there are certainly a wealth of possibility.
It’s an unpredictable draft in many ways. For one, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher has notably made clear that the 13th pick in the draft is available for the right price in a trade. Of course, Fletcher has added he’s willing to keep the pick and make a selection.
While that is no certainty, in the event the Flyers do get on the clock with the 13th pick and make a selection, here are five prospects to keep an eye on.
C Cole Sillinger - The son of NHL journeyman Mike Sillinger, who did have a stop in Philadelphia in his career, this 6’0”, 197-pound centerman could be the perfect combination of scoring threat and two-way ability. Sillinger knows how to find the net and has a great shot. He can make things happen by putting himself in position with unique vision skills.
His skating has provided some concerns, but he uses good positioning and has the ability to accelerate well to get going. Defensively, he’s not passive and offers plenty of support to the defensemen, making himself an option for a breakout.
After spending the 2019-20 season with Medicine Hat in the WHL, where he scored 22 goals and had 53 points in 48 games, he played with Sioux Falls in the 2020-21 season and scored 24 goals and 46 points in 31 games.
C Chaz Lucius - If you are looking for a dynamic goal scorer to join the fray, Lucius may be hard to pass up. The 6’1”, 185-pound center had 31 goals and 50 points in 46 games with the USNTDP in 2019-20. With not much playing time in 2020-21, Lucius made an impact with 13 goals and 20 points in 13 games.
His snap shot is a signature to his game, with a quick release and little windup. He’s been known to take shots from a distance and has a lot of confidence trying to pick corners. Lucius is a shoot-first player, but he continues to evolve as a playmaking forward, opening up passing lanes with his shot as a threat and using deceptive puck-handling to gain more time.
Lucius has a lot of quality skills, from quick footwork to playmaking ability, but his shot and the potential for him to be a pure scorer in the league make him an enticing player. He will need to work on his play away from the puck, but the potential may be too good to pass up.
RW Fabian Lysell - Speed, hands, and lots of hockey sense. That’s what Fabian Lysell, a 5’11”, 172-pound right winger possesses. The Swedish prospect spent the 2019-20 season with Frolunda’s J18 team, scoring 13 goals and 34 points in 14 games. He played 26 games in the SHL with Frolunda in 2020-21, scoring two goals and one assist among professional players.
What makes Lysell stand out is his skating ability. It doesn’t take much for him to get going and he can reach top speed quickly, making zone exits and entries look easy. His skillful hands also never stop, as he is able to use them to maneuver with the puck while not sacrificing speed.
Lysell offers really strong balance in his offensive game. He has the ability to score, but really knows how to make crisp and accurate passes. He’s a threat offensive all the time with his puck skills, and if he can add some size and strength to his shot, he could be a dynamic offensive producer in his own right.
C Kent Johnson - There’s a good chance the Flyers got plenty of looks at this next prospect. One of the three high-end Michigan kids that could all go in the Top 10, Kent Johnson had an impressive freshman season in the NCAA. After scoring 41 goals and 101 points in 52 games with Trail in the BCHL, Johnson had nine goals and 27 points in 26 games with Michigan.
Johnson is a 6’1”, 167-pound center that has an advanced level of hockey smarts and vision. His mental fortitude and agility make him a skilled player already, using a deceptive approach with his hands and feet. He should only become more effective in his ability to make quick and smart plays.
He needs to add more lower-body strength to improve his skating stride and become more consistent defensively, but much like Michigan teammate Cam York, another year or two of NCAA play should bode well at the next level for Johnson.
G Sebastian Cossa - The Flyers are known to target the best player available in the first round and this draft will be no different should they keep the 13th pick. It’s rare to see a goaltender taken in the first round unless they are an elite talent. It’s even less likely to see two be of this quality.
Jesper Wallstedt, the other goalie projected to go in the first round, should be long off the board by the 13th pick. But Sebastian Cossa is a different story. The 6’6”, 210-pound netminder could be there for the taking, and the Flyers could certainly explore the possibility.
Cossa had an outstanding 2020-21 season with Edmonton in the WHL, posting a 17-1-1 record in 19 games with a 1.57 GAA and .941 save percentage. The season before, in 31 games, he had a 21-6-3 record with a 2.23 GAA and .921 save percentage.
Cossa is known for his consistency. Even on his most off night, he still shows his consistency in the approach he brings to the game. He’s an athletic goalie, but also positions himself so well that he is seldom out of position and needing to make the desperation save.
His size helps him take away a lot of angles and cover a lot of the net, making it a challenge for shooters to find high-percentage shots and gaps. He plays in the butterfly, but uses quick feet to move in and out of position at lightning speed. His glove is a strength and he’s strong on rebounds, tracking well and staying with the play in front of him.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.