Flyers’ third-round pick quickly dumps Ranger allegiance

Devin Kaplan
      MONTREAL – Seeing as how Devin Kaplan grew up in Bridgewater, N.J., not all that far from the Wells Fargo Center, it figured he could be a Flyers fan.
      Nope. Early on in his youth, he pledged his allegiance to the New York Rangers.
      Kaplan, the Flyers’ third-round pick (69th overall) in this year’s draft, said one of his two older brothers, Jalen, was the big “Broad Street Bullies’’ fan in their youth.
      “My brother was a Flyers fan and I was a Ranger fan so we would always kind of butt heads,’’ Kaplan recalled with a chuckle. “But that (Ranger rooting) is over now. I’m all Philly. I’m ready to go.’’
      The Flyers were looking for big forwards in this draft and the 6-foot-2, 199-pound right wing has the size to help in that deparment.
      “It’s unbelievable,’’ Kaplan said of his recruitment by the Flyers. “I’ve been thinking about this my whole life and now it’s come true.’’
      Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr, who oversses scouting and the draft, said an emphasis on size was in place for this draft.
      “In certain areas,’’ Flahr said after the draft ended on Friday at the Bell Centre. “To be honest, (first-round pick) Cutter (Gauthier) is a big body. We didn’t expect to get Kaplan where we got him. We do want to get bigger as a team.’’
      Kaplan said he had conversations with Flyers management at the NHL combine and the talk centered around his versatility.
      “A lot of it was about the off-ice things,’’ Kaplan said, “because they already know what I can do on the ice.’’
      Playing for the U.S. National Development Team in the USHL last season, Kaplan registered eight goals/18 points in 22 games with a plus-18.
      At 6-foot-2, 199 pounds, Kaplan describes himself as a power forward who can make space for his teammates but also make extra room for himself.
      “I think I can bring a little bit of everything to the table,’’ he said.
      Kaplan is headed for Boston University this fall and will be playing at least a couple games against Flyers’ first-round (fifth overall) pick Cutter Gauthier of Boston College.
      “It’s going to be awesome,’’ Kaplan said with a grin. “We’re really close friends. The battles we have this year will be unbelievable. It will be making each other better while still being friends, too. We’ll be real competitive but it will be fun too.’’
      Kaplan said his two main attributes are his athleticism and his hockey IQ.
      And what was the reaction when the family learned of the pick?
      “My mom screamed,’’ Kaplan said with a grin.
      Said Flahr: “He just has the look of a potential NHL role player. . .his size, his ability to cycle and hold onto the puck. Can really shoot the puck.’’
      >Fifth rounder caught by surprise
      The Flyers relinquished their fourth-round pick in the Tony DeAngelo trade.
      When the fifth round rolled around, Philadelphia selected Minnesota USHL standout Alex Bump, a development which kind of caught him by surprise.
      “I did not,’’ he responded when asked if he had any idea the Flyers had him in their plans. Any talks with GM Chuck Fletcher or Flahr? “I’ve got a bad memory. I’m not good with names either.’’
      Bump played for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL last season and recorded 17 points in 27 games. The 6-foot-0, 199-pound native of Prior Lake, Minnesota plans to play with the Lancers for one more year.
      In the sixth round, the Flyers took defenseman Hunter McDonald, also a USHL veteran who is committed to playing for Northeastern University in Boston this autumn.
      “It was a long day (waiting to have his name called), but you have to remain confident,’’ he said.
      McDonald says he uses his size to his advantage.
      “I can move for a big person,’’ he said. “Good reads, good stick, physical. I’m defensive first and I take pride in that. I’m going to Northestern in the fall but I would love to wear a Flyer jersey.’’
      >Gauthier impressive
      Flahr said he was impressed by Gauthier’s credentials.
      “The thing that impressed us, you watch him play against some of the college teams against older players, he started impacting games,’’ Flahr said. “But sometimes you have to be careful watching USHL games because lots of times they dominate. They win easily and guys are doing only 75 percent. But he really caught the attention of scouts around the league.’’
      >Short shots
      Although the Flyers didn’t have second or fourth-round picks, Flahr was satified with the overall take of the Flyers’ draft.
      “We’re happy with Kaplan at the third, our list was dwindling quick for that range of player. We’re excited for sure.’’
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About Wayne Fish 2446 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.