Missing the playoffs for the first time in years, the Flyers need to begin looking towards their future. They've already addressed this somewhat in-season by trading away veterans for younger players and draft picks. They've acquired their new #1 goaltender in Martin Biron, fiesty winger Scottie Upshall and three solid defensemen in Lasse Kukkonen, Braydon Coburn and Ryan Parent. All five of these players will play huge parts in the Flyers immediate future and long-term plans.
With yesterday's official announcement that the Chicago Blackhawks have won the draft lottery, the Flyers (despite finishing in last place) will select 2nd overall in June's NHL Entry Draft.
So let's take a look at some of the top prospects in this year's draft class:
--- RW Patrick Kane (18 yrs. old) - Kane is currently playing for the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League. Through 58 games, Kane 62 goals, 83 assists and 52 PIM. And although he wears the jersey #88, he definitely does not possess the size or attitude of Eric Lindros. Kane is listed at 5'10" 165 lbs. He is considered the "safest" pick of the top prospects.
--- RW Alexei Cherepanov (18 yrs. old) - Cherepanov, who is currently playing for Omsk Avangard in the Russian Super League, is widely considered to have the most talent of any prospect in this draft. He is compared to Pavel Bure, but without the blazing speed. In 47 regular season games, Alexei totalled 18 goals and 11 assists. He also has three playoff goals. But to put those numbers in perspective, he is only one of two 18 year olds (or younger) to amass 20 goals in one season in the Russian Super League - the other being Sergei Samsonov. Cherepanov is 6'0, 183 lbs. The knock on him is that he is inconsistent and that he wasn't really considered a top prospect until this season.
--- C Kyle Turris (17 yrs. old) - Turris is currently playing for the Burnaby Express of the British Columbia Hockey League. He has 36 goals and 36 assists in 57 games. He is listed at 6'0, 170 lbs. He is not a physical hockey player, but for his age, has shown a nice scoring touch and should develop nicely into an NHL player. Turris has committed to playing hockey at the University of Wisconsin this fall. Not unusual for a player of his age and skill level. He is considered a notch below Kane among scouts and also has not played against the same level of competition as Kane and Cherepanov.
So there are arguably the top three prospects in the upcoming Entry Draft. There are other prospects that could be considered in the top 3-10 selections. They include: C Angelo Esposito, C Sam Gagner, D Karl Alzner, LW James Van Riemsdyk, D Keaton Ellerby, RW Jakub Voracek and C Logan Couture.
One of these players will surely add to the Flyers ever-growing cache of quality, young skaters.