Less than a month away from the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, we’re getting a better idea of what will be available with the fifth overall pick. The Philadelphia Flyers have many decisions to make. They could choose a highly sought-after forward, one of the two best defensemen in the entire draft class, or trade the pick for an established NHL commodity while opening some cap space.
My previous mock draft had the Flyers selecting a forward with the fifth overall pick. If Juraj Slafkovský is available, it’ll be tough to go in another direction. Chances of him slipping to fifth overall were already that of a miracle. A better idea would be to focus on the best position player available in the draft class. Šimon Nemec and David Jiříček now have the floor.
It’s a unanimous agreement that the 2023 NHL Draft class will have higher-quality forward talent. A wise philosophy could be to act now on defense due to the volatility of the 2021-2022 season.
I present my second mock of the 2022 NHL offseason. One more will follow a week before the draft takes place to complete the offseason trilogy.
1st Round; 5th Overall: David Jiříček, RD, HC Pilsen
The top two defensemen in the entire draft class fall into the Philadelphia Flyers’ lap. Nemec will likely be the one that disappears off the board first and just before Chuck Fletcher steps to the podium. Jiříček should be available.
Of the defensemen already on the Flyers, Jiříček is most similar to Travis Sanheim. Everything about his defensive game revolves around disrupting pass lanes and shot-blocking. He ignites the transition with a good first pass and has an explosive shot from the point, potent on the powerplay. Jiříček is a strong skating defenseman in just about every sense, including board battles.
Jiříček was an alternate captain for Czechia in the short-lived World Juniors, expected to resume on August 8th, 2022. He’ll require an AHL season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms after spending another season in Czechia but has the potential to be an ace in Philadelphia.
3rd Round; 68th Overall: Gleb Trikozov, F, Omskie Yastreby
In the first version of a mock draft, I had the Philadelphia Flyers selecting Slafkovský in the first round. This time, and in a more true direction of what I believe will happen, a defensive player is taken fifth overall, placing the heat on Fletcher to select an LW.
The Flyers must have a voice that translates to the drafted talent through development. Trikozov is a good skater but is susceptible to being flat throughout portions of a game. He can possess and extend the play in the OZ but isn’t the ideal skater for completing the transition. His defensive awareness needs work; Trikozov is vulnerable to puck watching and losing his man. When he has everything working together, Trikozov is a dangerous playmaker.
Trikozov will be the best LW available if he falls in the third round, admittedly a steep drop. The second round is likely more accurate. If Trikozov does fall into Philadelphia’s lap, Fletcher must make the pick. While current circumstances with Russia make this selection a risk, the reward could be grand for showing a little bit of intestinal fortitude.
He spent two seasons already with Omskie Yastreby in the MHL, remaining a persistent goal scorer. Philadelphia is thirsty for a goal scorer and one who doesn’t disappear in the postseason, which fits Trikozov’s description.
4th Round; 100th Overall: Artyom Barabosha, RD, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva
Barabosha completed his second season with Krasnaya Armiya Moskva in the MHL in 2021-2022. In his rookie season, he played 17 games. Last season, he played 45, totaling 11 points (4G, 7A) with a +18 rating. Krasnaya Armiya Moskva enjoyed a lengthy playoff run, ultimately losing in the finals. Barabosha notched three postseason assists, holding his own defensively against SKA-1946.
On May 22nd, 2021, Barabosha signed a three-year extension with Krasnaya Armiya Moskva through the 2023-2024 season. The Philadelphia Flyers will have time on their side to handle him delicately, similar to Ivan Fedotov.
Standing at 6’2″ and 190lbs, Barabosha could likely make a smooth transition to the NHL. Unlike Jiříček, Barabosha is a defensive defenseman first on the right side. These two selections in the same class would be a beautiful haul for Fletcher. Barabosha is the right prospect to bring the boom on the penalty kill, displaying the ability to clear the crease for his goaltender.
5th Round; 132nd Overall: Connor Kurth, F, Dubuque Fighting Saints
Undrafted in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Kurth has another year of draft eligibility. Last year’s projection was in the sixth or seventh round. At the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, he makes sense in the fourth or fifth round. Motivated, Kurth nearly doubled his USHL All-Rookie Second Team season output from 2020-2021. A commit to the University of Minnesota, Kurth is a gem.
Kurth is a USHL Second Team All-Star. He has sneaky size as a versatile forward, standing at 5’11” and 214lbs, allowing him to cut through defensemen. Conditioning was a concern in his first year of NHL Entry Draft eligibility, playing a role in remaining undrafted.
During 2021-2022, Kurth tallied 81 points (35G, 46A) and a plus-37 rating. That is more than double his goals from 2020-2021 and twenty more assists before scoring a goal per game in a short postseason run with the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
6th Round; 164th Overall: Kocha Delic, C, Sudbury Wolves
While the Sudbury Wolves did not make the OHL playoffs, Delic is accountable for the highest point total on his team while maintaining a positive plus-minus. His 46 points (17G, 29A) were good for fourth on the Wolves in 2021-2022.
Delic fits the fourth line of the Philadelphia Flyers in due time. He’s a two-way forward who makes the intelligent defensive play and is effective in the forecheck. He plays an uptempo, efficient game, crucial to a puck possession hockey system.
7th Round; 196th Overall: Beau Jelsma, LW, Barrie Colts
Jelsma makes sense because there is a lack of depth at LW within the Philadelphia Flyers system. Late round selections should revolve around team needs.
Critical traits for a late round selection include on-ice energy, work ethic, and the coachability to develop a stubborn two-hundred-foot game. That is Jelsma, but he needs to add weight. In the OZ, his puck movement is effective. He can create a lot of space very quickly, which is a nod to his speed.
There is a very high probability that Jelsma is the best player available at this stage in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. If a team selected him two rounds earlier, it would make sense. Hopefully, Fletcher has Jelsma on his radar.
(Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire)