By: Dan Silver
To our collective disappointment, the Philadelphia Flyers didn’t realize their 13.4 percent chance of moving up via the lottery in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, set to be held Wednesday, June 28 in Nashville.
However, they also didn’t move down, which came in at a 42.1 percent chance.
Instead the odds won out, as their 44.5 percent chances of staying at #7 came to fruition.
However, this year’s draft not only has some potential superstars at the top, it also has a lot of star-quality depth, ensuring that the Flyers will have a chance to add a player who can greatly improve the trajectory of the franchise.
In this article, we will review the potential players who might be available at #7, and ultimately I will share my opinions on who I’d like to see them draft.
First, let’s get the four players out of the way who I don’t think there is any chance of being available at #7.
Connor Bedard – the consensus, slam-dunk #1 pick, he will be bringing his elite shot, sublime playmaking ability, and immense hockey IQ to the Chicago Blackhawks come next season
Adam Fantilli – the Hobey Baker winner as college hockey’s best player is almost a guarantee to go #2 to the Anaheim Ducks, and he’s everything a team could want in a franchise center – big, fast, skilled, great shot, the whole package
Leo Carlsson – this big, strong, skilled Swedish center would be the #1 pick in many years, but this year he’ll have to settle for getting picked 3rd or 4th, he reminds me of Mats Sundin
Will Smith – his MVP performance in the recent Under 18 Tournament for Team USA seems to have resulted in him going top five in most mocks, and there’s been a lot of chatter about him going 3rd to Columbus – fine with me, I have concerns about his skating and defensive commitment and rank him below a number of the players I am about to delve into
So without further adieu, let’s jump into some of the top players I think might be available to the Flyers at #7, loosely ordered by how I would rank them in terms of future NHL impact:
Matvei Michkov, RW, 5’10”, 150 lbs, Born 12/9/04
If Michkov’s name was Bobby Smith and he was playing in the Canadian Juniors, he’d be a slam dunk to go in the first five picks, and potentially in the top three.
Unfortunately, there are a few complicating factors.
The first, and least impactful, is that he is signed through the 2025-26 season with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, the top tier professional league in Russia. So whoever drafts Michkov will have to wait until at least the 2026-27 NHL season before adding him to their roster. One possible exception is if he finds a way to defect, like Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin did in 2006.
The bigger concern is that given Russia’s current standing in the world political climate, ie. the war with Ukraine and some of the sanctions being put on the country, some NHL teams have concerns that Michkov may never end up coming to play in North America. Those concerns weren’t assuaged when Michkov’s dad, who had been missing since April 2, was found dead in a pond near Sochi on April 4. It’s not certain that this was related to his son’s status as a top NHL draft prospect, but it has been rumored.
All this adds up to a lot of uncertainty surrounding when Michkov will get taken in the draft. My suspicion is that it will come down to each team’s risk tolerance, and while I think he could last to the Flyers at #7, I think if they pass on him, it’s highly likely the Capitals snatch him up at #8, considering their Russian ties with Alex Ovechkin on the roster.
Enough about the politics, let’s get into the player!
Michkov is a highly skilled winger who has incredible quickness, puckhandling ability, and a fantastic shot. His season got off to a slow start, but after getting loaned to HK Sochi, he really took off, finishing with nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points in 27 games. The KHL is notoriously difficult for younger players to put up gaudy stats, and Michkov was the only U19 played in the league to put up more than seven points.
Here’s an example of him bursting into a seam, receiving a pass, and firing a wrister home
To show his supreme skill, here is Michkov trying to pull off the Michigan play from behind the net
And here’s an assortment of highlights of Michkov pulling of numerous nice plays
The concerns surrounding Michkov aren’t just off the ice, however. His effort in the defensive zone leaves a lot to be desired, and his lack of size and physicality are somewhat of a cause for concern. However, he’s built in the Nikita Kucherov mold and it’s very likely that his immense skill will more than make up for any defensive shortcomings.
Flyers Draft Meter – 6/10 – We’ve discussed the amount of risk associated with taking Michkov in the draft, and my opinion is that if he lasts to #7, Danny Briere is not going to be comfortable using his first ever pick as General Manager on a guy that might never come to the NHL. So while I love the talent, I don’t think there’s a high probability he ends up joining the Flyers organization. But maybe Briere will surprise me.
Zach Benson, LW, 5’10”, 160, lbs Born 5/12/05
If you’d asked me a month ago, I wouldn’t have had Benson on this list, because my assumption was that he was going to be selected among the top five picks in the draft. However, since then a few things have happened.
The first is that a number of players, but namely Will Smith and Dalibor Dvorsky, had massive showings at the recent international U18 tournament and have seen their stock really increase.
The second is that the bias against smaller wingers seems to reach more of a fevered pitch as the draft approaches.
But make no mistake, Benson is absolutely one of the most electrifying offensive talents in this year’s draft. This season he led the Winnipeg Ice, arguably the best team in the entire Canadian Juniors, with 98 points in 60 games, outscoring the older Matthew Savoie who was selected 9th overall in the 2022 NHL Draft by the Sabres.
Look at his tenacious backcheck here to get the puck, followed by a burst of speed up the ice, terrific dangles to beat the defensemen, and a sublime finish
Here’s Benson with a heads up play in the neutral zone followed by a slick, high IQ pass to spring Savoie on a breakaway
And here’s Benson showing off his poise and deception with the puck, shimmying around a defenseman and firing a perfect top-shelf wrister for the goal
Benson has a lot of Claude Giroux-esque abilities to his game, and is clearly one of the best playmakers in this year’s draft. And perhaps whatever NHL team drafts him will try to convert him to center, like the Flyers did with Giroux.
Additionally, Benson is a tenacious forechecker who any coach would love to have on their team. And if that wasn’t enough, his work ethic is pretty legendary.
Flyers Draft Meter – 8/10 – If Benson is available when the Flyers pick, I believe they will give serious consideration to calling his name. Briere won’t shy away from taking smaller players, Torts will love his engine and work ethic, and the team clearly needs elite playmakers. The fly in the ointment could be if they decide to fill the bigger need at center or right defense, or if they simply like a different winger slightly more. But I’d be quite happy if Benson ended up being the pick.
Dalibor Dvorsky, C, 6’1″, 200 lbs, Born 6/15/05
Dalibor Dvorsky checks almost all the boxes of what you’d want in an ideal NHL center. He’s big, strong, a pretty good skater, displays tenacity and defensive commitment, is an excellent playmaker, and his best attribute might be his fantastic shot.
Question marks about his offensive upside have been the main thing preventing him from being a consensus top five prospect for this year’s draft, but a massive showing in the recent U18 tournament has seemed to quell those concerns.
He spent most of the season playing against professionals for AIK in the Swedish Allsvenskan, scoring six goals and adding eight assists in 38 games. He was the only U18 player in that league to score more than four points.
But it was in the international U18 tourney against his peers where Dvorsky really displayed his offensive ability. He finished 6th in the tournament with 13 points in seven games, and did so without the luxury of highly touted line mates.
Dvorsky was the dominant driving force for Slovakia in the tournament, and looked like a player who can potentially end up as a 1C for an NHL team.
Here’s a video of him on the power play, surveying the scene, and ultimately uncorking a wicked wrist shot into the top corner of the net
And here is Dvorsky’s forechecking, passing ability, and hockey IQ on full display
And here’s Dvorsky on the power play with a terrific pass to set up a goal, displaying his excellent vision
Dvorsky was so good at the U18’s that many mock drafts now have him going in the top five, and one of his biggest supporters all season among the scouting community has been Grant McCagg, who is tied in closely with the Canadiens and seems to think they could take him at #5.
Flyers Draft Meter – 9/10 – If Dvorsky is available when the Flyers pick, I think they’ll have a hard time passing him up. He’s the most prototypical NHL center among all the potential options, I know they were very impressed with his showing at the U18’s. I’d be quite pleased if they ended up with him, as he could fill the 1C spot for years to come.
Ryan Leonard, RW, 5’11”, 180 lbs, Born 1/21/05
If Ryan Leonard had played center this season, he would perfectly fit the profile of what the Flyers have traditionally looked for in a draft prospect. Almost all of his attributes grade out as at least above-average. He’s a very good skater, he can really fire the puck, he rarely has a shift where he doesn’t compete, he’s a fine passer, and he’s been known to throw some huge hits.
Leonard played this season on arguably the best line in the history of the US National U18 team, alongside Will Smith and Gabriel Perreault. The trio combined for 353 points in 60 odd games, with Leonard contributing 51 goals and 43 assists. His goal totals were similar to his two line mates, but he trailed them by 30 assists, a reflection of his comparably lesser playmaking ability.
However, don’t let his lower point totals than Smith and Perreault fool you, many would argue that he was the key cog on that line, using his speed and tenacity to force turnovers and create space for his less physical line mates.
And Leonard shined brightest in the biggest moments, including the tournament winning goal in the U18’s
Here’s an example of his relentless puck pursuit creating a turnover, after which he sets up Perreault on a breakaway
And here’s that big hitting ability I was referring to
Leonard is close to the complete package, and his performance at the U18’s has shot him up the draft boards from a top 15 pick to many thinking he will go in the top 10. He’s about as surefire a bet as any player outside the top three (Berard, Fantilli, Carlsson) to become an impact NHL player, with a high offensive upside to boot.
Flyers Draft Meter – 7/10 – People often equate the Flyers franchise with physical players that have high compete levels, and from that perspective, Ryan Leonard is as perfect a fit as it gets. For that reason, if he is available at #7, I will not be surprised if they take him. However, he mainly played RW this season, which is the Flyers greatest position of strength. Additionally, the organization has spent recent 1st round picks on Tyson Foerster and Cutter Gauthier, both high-volume shooters, so they might want to try and snag a playmaker with this pick. For those reasons, I would think Dvorsky and Benson would make more sense. But make no mistake, if it is Leonard, he should become a fan favorite in short order. Also interesting to note that, along with Smith and Perreault, he will be attending Boston College next season, so all three will be on the same team as Gauthier.
Oliver Moore, C, 5’11”, 180 lbs, Born 1/22/05
For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been an advocate of Oliver Moore as a potential Flyers pick for a while, although I’ve slightly cooled on him of late.
The most attractive part of Moore’s game is his blinding speed – he’s likely the fastest straight-line skater in the entire draft. He’s not only fast, but his engine never stops. He’s almost always near the puck, and he’s a fierce competitor who is very good at forcing turnovers. There are no concerns with his work ethic or defensive commitment.
However, watching full games of Team USA at the U18’s, I do have some concerns regarding if he has the same type of offensive upside as players like Dvorsky and Leonard. He certainly doesn’t have the offensive upside of Benson.
It’s somewhat hard to judge him as compared to Smith, Leonard, and Perreault, who had the benefit of playing with each other all season. Moore was relegated to playing center on the 2nd line, and for most of the season did not have the luxury of playing with top playmakers or finishers. Yet he still scored 31 goals and 33 assists in 61 games, and put up a respectable nine points in seven games at the U18’s.
But in watching him play, he doesn’t appear to have the high-end vision and playmaking like a Smith or a Perreault and he doesn’t have the finishing ability like a Leonard. Again though, a bit hard to tell based on his line mates.
What there is no question about it the speed, as he can blow past defenders like they are standing still
He also uses that speed to attack open space, like this place where he anticipates the play and buries the puck in the net
He also is very good at cycling and the wrist shot is hard and accurate, as displayed in this clip
Moore’s skillset is pretty similar to Dylan Larkin, and their draft season numbers for the US National U18 Team are pretty similar – Larkin had 56 in 60 games and Moore had the aforementioned 64 points in 61 games.
There were similar concerns about Larkin’s offensive upside that resulted in him going 15th in the 2014 draft, but he’s established himself as a very good 1C for Detroit and is one of the leading scorers from that draft.
Flyers Draft Meter – 6/10 – If Benson and Dvorsky are both gone, I personally would not be disappointed if the Flyers selected Moore, as I do still believe in his offensive upside and I think his speed is something the organization desperately needs. However, I think that some of the offensive concerns that arose from the U18’s will result in him going closer to #12 than #7. I’d be mildly surprised if he ends up being their guy.
David Reinbacher, RHD, 6’2″, 190 lbs, Born 10/25/04
Next we are going to look a few right-handed defensemen that could be of interest to the Flyers, who are stocked with left-handed blueliners but bereft of prospects on the right side.
Reinbacher, an Austrian, is the consensus top defenseman available in the draft, and it’s not hard to see why. He’s got a big frame, is an excellent skater, has some playmaking ability, and is also very solid in his own zone. Not only is it a very projectable skillset, but he’s also likely not far off from playing NHL games.
This season he played for EHC Kloten in the Swiss NL, and as the only U19 regular in that league, he scored three goals and added 19 assists in 46 games. Really good for his age in that league.
There have been some comparisons made to the German-born Moritz Seider, who was the riser of the 2019 draft when Detroit took him at #6, well before he was projected to go. It certainly worked out for them, as he’s developed into one of the best young defenseman in the NHL.
Reinbacher doesn’t have the same type of soft skills – stickhandling, in-tight passing, playmaking – as guys like Quinn Hughes or Cale Makar, but he’s no slouch from an offensive perspective.
Here you can see him doing an excellent job running the power play
He also demonstrates his speed, cycling ability, tenacity and passing ability in this clip
And here we see him dishing out a huge hit
Reinbacher has really worked his way up the draft rankings this season, to the point where several mock drafts have him going in the top six, some even in the top five. I think he has definite top pairing NHL potential, but without the offensive upside of a guy who should be taken super early in a draft as deep as this one. He reminds me a bit of right-handed version of Ivan Provorov, although probably a bit smoother offensively.
Flyers Draft Meter – 5/10 – With the sheer amount of star-potential forwards that will be available when the Flyers pick, I have a hard time seeing them going defenseman. That being said, last year they passed up on a high-upside RHD in David Jiricek to take forward Cutter Gauthier, so maybe this year they’ll use the pick to fill that high-end RHD void. One thing to keep in mind is that next year’s draft appears stocked with defensemen, including a handful of RHD, so the Flyers could take a forward this year with the idea of grabbing a rearguard early next year.
Axel Sandin Pellikka, RHD, 5’11”, 180 lbs, Born 3/11/05
Generally ranked as the 2nd best defense prospect in this year’s draft, there are elements of Axel Sandin Pellikka’s game and projectability that I prefer to the more physically-advanced Reinbacher.
He was one of only a few U18 defensemen to play in the SHL, Sweden’s top level professional league, and he held his own, scoring five points in 22 games for Skelleftea AIK.
The smooth Swede truly shined when playing against his peers, especially in the recently-concluded U18 tournament, where he finished 2nd among all blueliners with 11 points in seven games. Only the USA’s Cole Hutson, eligible for the 2024 draft, had more.
Pellikka is highly skilled and plays with a great attention to detail, which shows up with his excellent footwork and sublime passing ability. That footwork is really on display with a few examples in the below clips
He also has a really accurate shot as well, which he shows here
In the modern NHL, I generally prefer defensemen with the soft skills that enable them to make nifty plays with the puck in tight quarters, and that’s an area where Pellikka excels. I think he’s going to take more time to develop than Reinbacher, but I won’t be surprised if a handful of years down the road, Pellikka is the better NHL’er.
Flyers Draft Meter – 5/10 – While Reinbacher might be gone if the Flyers stay at #7, I think it’s fairly likely that Pellikka will still be available. However, if guys like Benson, Dvorsky, and Leonard are available, I think the Flyers will go with a forward, despite my inklings that they are fans of Pellikka’s game. If the Flyers trade down or add another 1st round pick in the teens, Pellikka would be a great target.
Gabe Perreault, LW, 5’11”, 165 lbs, Born 5/7/05
I hadn’t really thought of the highly-skilled Perreault as a potential Flyers pick at #7, but when the highly-respected Scott Wheeler had that happening in his latest mock draft, I figured I better include him on this list.
Despite being the least heralded member of his line with Will Smith and Ryan Leonard, Perreault is the one who ended up breaking Auston Matthews’ US National Under 18 scoring record, putting up an absurd 53 goals and 79 assists for 132 points in 63 games.
However, Smith was the center, which tends to generate the most interest from scouts, and Leonard plays such an energetic, in-your-face game that he’s impossible to miss out there.
Meanwhile, you could argue that Perreault is the most skilled playmaker of the trio, also probably boasting highest hockey IQ on that line as well. Make no mistake though, he has some loud skills as well.
Check out the acceleration and finishing ability he shows off on this goal
And here we see his sublime stickhandling on full display
And perhaps most impressively, check out the backcheck, terrific pass in his own zone, and then burst up the ice to set up a goal
Perreault is a really good hockey player. He’s probably going to take longer to reach his potential at the NHL level, but I won’t be surprised if he turns into just as good a player as Smith or Leonard. He’ll be joining both of them, along with Cutter Gauthier, at Boston College next season.
Flyers Draft Meter – 3/10 – While I don’t know exactly what the Flyers scouts think, I believe that it would be very hard for them to take Perreault over Dvorsky, Leonard, and Benson, and I have to think one of those three guys will be available at #7. I wouldn’t be upset to see them take Perreault, I just don’t see it as very likely.
Nate Danielson, C, 6’1″, 185 lbs, Born 9/27/04
While I personally have Danielson rated a notch below all the other players I’ve detailed, I wanted to cover him because he’s pretty high on some lists, including #6 on Corey Pronman’s latest.
Whether fair or not, when I see a Brandon Wheat Kings center described as a very solid 2-way player with a high floor and a lot of NHL traits, I immediately think of Nolan Patrick. Obviously injuries derailed Patrick’s career, but that doesn’t help ease my PTSD when looking at Danielson.
Moving past that, he is a very good hockey player, albeit one without a lot of flash to hos game.
Here’s video of an entire shift where he makes a number of nice places, some subtle, and some not-so-subtle
He also does have some good wheels and a hard, accurate shot as on display here
Danielson spent the entire season with Brandon, scoring 78 points in 68 games, and it’s certainly possible that his draft stock would have improved if he got a chance to play in some of the international tournaments.
However, considering that he didn’t play in those, and some others did and saw their stock really rise, it’s hard for me to envision Danielson going in the top 10. But all it takes is for one team to really like him.
Flyers Draft Meter – 2/10 – With so many dynamic players likely available at #7, it’s very hard for me to see the Flyers going with the somewhat lower upside guy in Danielson. I would be very surprised if they took him in this spot.
There are a few more prospects I want to briefly touch on, guys that I think it’s highly unlikely end up being selected at #7, but that deserve mention nevertheless.
Matthew Wood – a big, strong Canadian winger, he put up a very impressive 34 points in 35 games with UConn as an NCAA freshman. Extremely impressive considering he was literally the only player in college who was 17yo to start the season. He also had a nice showing at the U18’s, with 13 points in seven games. He doesn’t have quite the dynamic element that a lot of the players projected to go top 10 have, but he likely won’t last past 15.
Colby Barlow – after Bedard and Fantilli, you could argue that Barlow has the best shot in the entire draft. He sniped 46 goals in 59 games for Owen Sound in the OHL this season, and was decent, albeit not dominant, at the U18’s. With the Flyers having taken two shooters in the 1st round the past two drafts, it seems unlikely they’d go with another one here.
Andrew Cristall – perhaps the most polarizing prospect in this year’s draft, some scouts had him top five at one point while others think he’s more of a 2nd round talent. He’s a smallish winger who actually scored more points-per-game (1.76) in the same league as Benson (1.63). But while Benson is a superb skater who plays hard on both ends of the ice, Cristall has some issues in both areas. It didn’t help that he was largely ineffective at the U18’s, with only two goals in seven games. His stock is on the downswing, and at this point I won’t be surprised if he slips to the end of the 1st round or start of the 2nd round. But there is a lot of offensive upside with him.
Eduard Sale – another polarizing prospect, Sale is a bit of an enigma. He’s got size and a ton of skill, but he’s been known to disappear at times and there are some real questions about his work ethic on a game in, game out basis. He’s really not the type of player that I can see the Flyers drafting.
Daniil But, Dmitri Simashev, Mikhail Gulyayev – I’m lumping these three Russians together. But is an immense, highly skilled winger, Simashev is an excellent two-way defenseman, and Gulyayev is the fastest and perhaps most toolsy defenseman in the draft. However, with the major question marks surrounding Russian players at this time, I doubt the Flyers draft any of them. However it will be very interesting to see when teams start to take the plunge on them.
Conclusion – Despite the disappointment of not moving up via the lottery, hopefully this article has demonstrated that there are going to be some very good players available when the Flyers draft. My top two would be Dvorsky or Benson, and I’d be fine with Michkov, Leonard, Moore, and even Perreault. I also won’t be upset if they decide to take a defenseman in Reinbacher or Sandin Pellikka.
I also think there could be some intrigue in terms of new GM Danny Briere possibly trying to trade up and snag a Carlsson to cement the 1C spot for years to come. Kevin Hayes will definitely be on the move this offseason, although he’s worth more of a late 2nd or early 3rd round pick with some Flyers salary retention, but guys like Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, and Carter Hart could also be on the move if the return is right.
Buckle up Flyers fans, it should be an exciting offseason, with hopefully the addition of an extremely good prospect come June 28!
Credits – Photo credits to Associated Press, the Athletic, and Getty Images
2 thoughts on “Flyers Draft Options at #7”
GREAT article Dan………….