Flyers’ draft prospects credo: Play fast, play smart

      Two things all the Flyers’ draft picks this year seem to have in common: Lots of hockey sense and high-running motors.
      Tyson Foerster, a talented right wing/center taken in Tuesday’s first round, looks to have top six forward promise someday.
      Zayde Wisdom, who was chosen at No. 94 on Wednesday after a trade with Tampa Bay, could provide the type of energy the Flyers got out of Wayne Simmonds over much of the past decade.
      On defense, second-round selection (54th overall) Emil Andrae looks to be a bit undersized but could have enough skill and speed to make it to the NHL someday.
      In all, general manager Chuck Fletcher sounded satisfied with the way things went.
      “Those (sense, compete) are two of the biggest things we look at,’’ Fletcher said late Wednesday afternoon. “Hockey sense, and that compete, that motor having high energy. Players that love to play the game.
      “Just from my experience, players that love to play hockey tend to put more time into it and tend to come to the rink. They get better as a result. Hockey sense is something you just can’t teach. We feel all these players have high hockey sense, have a high motor and are skilled as well. Those are intangibles we do focus on.’’
      He insisted he didn’t go after certain players to fill specific needs but maybe things just worked out well by chance.
      “We followed our list,’’ he said. “We did the old ‘best-player-available’ at every pick.
      “As I mentioned last night (Tuesday), there were about 15 players that we would be very happy to draft in the second round and we were able to draft two of them.’’
      Assistant general manager Brent Flahr also likes what the Flyers came away with.
      This is the second draft for both Fletcher and Flahr in Philadelphia and while the team isn’t in complete rebuild mold, these players will be some of the first from this regime to someday play on the Flyers.
      Hockey sense is what coach Alain Vigneault prefers and he’s not happy when players make mental mistakes.
      “I’m a big hockey sense guy,’’ Flahr said. “I think first and foremost, you want the biggest, strongest, fastest players but if you don’t have hockey sense, it doesn’t matter.
      “All these players we feel have very good heads for the game. With their competitiveness and their skill set, it will give them a chance. We need to help them along but at the same time we feel confident that they have the character and inner drive that make themselves players.’’
      As for the high energy aspect, even the sixth-round pick, Connor McClennon who goes all of 5-foot-8, 163 pounds, seems to be ready and willing to go to battle.
      “We have some inside information on him because he’s close friends with Ridly Greig (son of former Flyer player and current scout Mark Greig. Ridly was drafted 28th by Ottawa),’’ Flahr said.
      “He (McClennon) is undersized but he’s been a prolific goal scorer. He also has the motor. In order to get those chances, you need that engine. His competitiveness is very good.’’
      So even though the Flyers only came away with five draft picks over the two days (they had no third-round pick, they traded away a pair of picks to get Wisdom and also unloaded a pair of picks in the seventh round to Nashville for the 135th pick to get Eliot Nescoyers), they possibly still ended up with quality over quantity.
      As always, only one or two of them on average is likely to make it to the NHL. But at least the Flyers have improved the odds by going after character competitors.
Wayne Fish
About Wayne Fish 1111 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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