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An Early Look at How the Flyers Could Clean up in the 2025 NHL Draft

By |May 30th, 2024|

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Since Briere took over as General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, he has put a strong emphasis on rebuilding through the draft. So much so that in the 2023 Entry Draft, they made two selections in the first round, taking Russian Forward Matvei Michkov seventh overall and the newly crowned OHL Champion London Knights defenseman Oliver Bonk 22nd overall. With both picks appearing (at least at this point) to be home runs, Danny will attempt a similar fate when he is due to make multiple first-round selections this summer as well, which, if you’re interested, you can view my suggestions for those picks on our website

But that’s not all; keeping up with this trend of planning for the future, Briere has already managed to set his franchise up with multiple first-round selections in the 2025 draft as well. In fact, when paired with the ones already in the team’s system and the ones that soon will be from this summer’s draft, we could very well be playing witness to the fate of this franchise-changing right before our eyes.

So, with that being said, let us take a look at some promising prospects that Briere and the team’s scouts should be setting their sights on for next season.

As of right now, with the fate of Matvei Michkov still not confirmed as to where he will be playing next season, we will assume the Flyers will likely finish around or slightly better than they did this past season—leaving them to pick somewhere just outside the top ten to the early teens. And a player whom I think they should select with their own first-round pick in 2025 is the Erie Otters’ shutdown defender, Matthew Schaefer.

Matthew Schaefer

Matthew, who we here at got to speak to recently on our PodCast called Prospect Watch-

– was the OHL’s number-one overall pick in their 2023 Priority Selection Draft. And for good reason. Schaefer was able to show this past season for the Otters that he possessed great speed and size, which helped him hinder their opposition’s advances. But while his swiftness has many scouts drooling for me, it’s his ability to use his great hockey sense to wait until his opponent drops their head to try and regain control of the puck after he has poke-checked from them to then step up and use his body to not only take them out of the play but off of their skates entirely.

If you would like to read more about Schaefer and his game, here is an article I recently posted on him.

Jordan Gavin

As for their previously mentioned additional first-round selection that we, of course, know Danny was able to pick up in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche for impending free-agent defenseman Sean Walker, I would suggest Philadelphia look at a tantalizing forward that goes by the name Jordan Gavin, who plays for the Tri-City Americans of the WHL. Gavin is a dynamic forward with a quick release who can hurt you if given space. But unlike most players his age, Jordan is just as satisfied if not more eager to set up a teammate than he is to score himself. This being a trait that led the Americans to draft Jordan second overall in the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft.

It is my opinion that Jordan will have an absolute breakout year this upcoming season. One that will make his 23 goals and 45 assists for 68 points he was able to total this season seem minuscule compared to what he will have compiled this time next year.

Lynden Lakovic

While fans should be happy if the Flyers were done after day one with drafting both Schaefer and Gavin, where the team could really clean up will be in the second round, and here’s why.

In 2025, the Flyers have the opportunity to make three selections in the second round. The first to be utilized would likely be the one they received from the Anaheim Ducks for the arrogant Cutter Gauthier.

And it’s with this pick that I would suggest the Flyers take the 6’4 forward Lynden Lakovic, who can be found playing for the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors.

Like a magician, Lynden uses his unusual length and phenomenal stick-handling ability to create the illusion for the opposition’s defense that he is going to do one thing just to pull the puck back in tight to his body to do another. This sleight of hand allowed Lynden to score 18 goals and 21 assists for a total of 39 regular season points this year.

And, with guys like the already drafted Jagger Firkus, Brayden Yager, Matthew Savoie, and Denton Mateychuck all either aging out or potentially making the jump to the professional level next season, Lakovic is set to gain a lot more ice time, which should lead to a substantial rise in his point production.

Benjamin Kevan

The Flyers’ subsequent second-round pick should be coming from the Columbus Blue Jackets. It is a conditional pick that they acquired in a trade for defender Ivan Provorov. The only caveat to this is that the Blue Jackets have to end of the 1st round of this summer’s draft to decide whether they will give up their 2024 2nd round pick or their second selection in 2025. But with the Blue Jackets set to hire a new GM in the coming days and having that selection be the 36th overall pick to be made this summer, I think they will likely be holding on to it and thus forcing them to defer their 2025 second-round selection to the Flyers.

So, if that is the case, I would advise the Flyers brass to draft the USHL’s Benjamin Kevan with that pick. Ben, who plays for the Des Moines Buccaneers, was able to compile a near-point-per-game average in just his first season in the USHL, where he scored 24 goals and 33 assists for 57 points in just 59 games played. This feat earned him the honor of being named to the USHL All-Rookie Team this season.

Better still, to go with Kevan’s breakaway-type speed and finishing ability, the Bucs just added the young and talented Blake Zielinski with the third overall pick in the latest USHL Entry Draft, so with these two manning the helm next year, Des Moines bounty should prove plentiful.

Liam Kilfoil

Now, as far as what the team should do with their own 2nd round pick, I would recommend they take a look at a prospect who most experts are sleeping on right now, and that player would be Halifax’s Liam Kilfoil.

This season was Liam’s first in the Q, and while he only scored nine goals and eleven assists for 20 points in the regular season, the progression and skill set that showed through at times would lead me to believe that great things are still to come from this young man.

Kilfoil showed this season that he possesses the type of speed, pace, and strength that allows a player to take the puck from coast to coast unscathed. Let me give you an example: From a standstill, Liam shows the wherewithal to wait for a defender to throw himself off balance by lunging for the puck before he takes off down the ice. Once he has gained that initial space, he is off to the races. At speeds so fast, he can take the outside lane along the boards to get by defenders protecting the puck the whole time before making evasive maneuvers to allow himself to cut right in front of the oppositions net to create a scoring chance with his lightning-quick release while remaining seemingly untouched.

And that’s just one example of his early skill set. Many more traits were beginning to shine through towards the end of the season. To prove that, all you have to do is look at what he did in the playoffs, where he scored three goals in only four games.

Take my word for it: this player will be shooting up mock draft boards next season to the point where teams will be flying scouts on the teams’ plane to Halifax next season just to see him play in person.

Although it may seem very early to be talking about the 2025 draft, I guarantee you the Flyers organization has their scouts working overtime to begin to gather information on these players, given the fact that their literal future depends on getting these picks right that they have given up so much to acquire.

Prospect Watch: Matthew Schaefer

By |May 22nd, 2024|

Photo Credit: Erie Otters

With the 2024 NHL Entry Draft right around the corner, you would think that we here at Prospect Watch would be getting ready to sit back and watch our prognostications begin to unfold just as we said they would. Instead, we prefer to get a jump on the following year’s crop and to do that, I can think of no better prospect to start talking about than a guy who the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League chose to take number one overall in the 2023 Priority Selection Draft, and that player was 16-year-old defenseman, Matthew Schaefer.

Now, for those of you not yet familiar with Matthew or his game, let me tell you I have seen some defenders with size. I have seen some defenders with speed, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a defender who has been so lucky to possess both of these qualities and be able to utilize them so fluently together at such a young age.

Offensively, while on the rush, Matthew appears so poised that you would think he’s an NHL veteran of at least ten years. This is thanks to that aforementioned speed, which permits him to break away from a pack of defenders with ease and provides him (and his team) with endless scoring opportunities, which they then make look effortless.

But I assure you Schaefer is so much more than just some run-of-the-mill point-producing offensive defenseman. This young man has shown us this past season that he is wise beyond his years. What I mean by that is he has already appeared to have learned the importance of being patient while standing guard on the blue line. Matthew knows when to join the rush and when it’s best to stay back and protect his end of the ice. And we all know or at least are playing witness to just how invaluable a true two-way defender who can put up points as well as maintain a positive plus-minus rating can be in the playoffs.

As exciting as this prospect already is, it should be noted that he is only going to get better. In fact, one attribute that I feel should be both documented and monitored closely over the next year by NHL scouts is just how physical this young man is becoming. While reaching an age and maturity level where most are struggling just learning how to drive, Matthew (while only weighing in at 161 pounds this past season) was made to show that he could be relied upon to combat the advances of some of the leagues oldest, largest, and most talented competitors. And, if you had watched any of his games or even the video clips I provided you with in this article, you would have seen that Schaffer was able to do so flawlessly.

With most of the leagues around the world now preferring a kinder/gentler game, most defenders have become soft for fear of receiving a penalty. With that, sadly, it has become satisfactory to most coaches if a defender just throws out a lazy poke check to a speedy opposing winger who is able just to brush it off and keep advancing into the attacking zone. So as a result, these leagues have become more wide-open, leaving goalies to fend for themselves.

However, this is not the case with Schaefer. Despite him being known to throw out an effective poke check on the opposition, what sets him apart from the rest is while the forward drops his head to try and regain control of the puck, Matthew has been trained to follow said poke check, up by immediately putting on the brakes and lowering his shoulder. This is done in an effort to eliminate any threat of a potential goal by taking his man out of the play completely.

The last and seemingly most important quality that we’ll talk about Matthew possessing (that most players his age don’t) is his ability to lead. Almost instantaneously upon his arrival in Erie, Matthew appeared to become a leader of this rebuilding franchise. To this point, multiple teammates have gone on record saying it’s true when Schaefer walks into the locker room, it is almost like his presence demands respect. And it’s not because of an attitude problem or him being vain, far from it, because he’s one of the nicest, most wholesome kids you would ever want to meet.

What I think has developed this worthwhile quality is the fact Matthew has unfortunately had to deal with a lot of hardship in his young life with the loss of both his mom, whom he loved dearly, to breast cancer as well as his billet Mother in Erie, whose death was unexpected. Both women (or mother figures, if you will) in his life passed only a couple of months apart. And, when forced to deal with that kind of adversity, you do one of two things: you crack under the pressure or you press on like Matthew chose to do because it’s what his mother, who played mini sticks with him since he could first stand with a binky in his mouth would have wanted him to do.

Now, Schaefer’s three goals and fourteen assists for seventeen points this season for the Otters would be impressive for any 16-year-old defender playing in this league (especially), given all he had to go through this season. But for me, it was what he was able to do at the World Championships recently in Finland that proved to me that he at least belongs in the conversation of who will be named the top ten talents for the 2025 NHL Entry Draft.

This is because Matthew did not only play for Canada in the U-17 Tournament, where he scored four points in eight games. He also managed to make the cut to join their U-18 Team as well, where he tallied five points in seven games. In all these games, Schaefer showed that he could not only play with some of the best young talents in the world today, but in my mind, he was able to get the best of them.

So, if you get the chance next season to head up to Erie for a game, I would highly suggest it because with the Otters having both Malcolm Spence, who they took second overall in the 2022 Priority Draft, and Matthew Schaefer, who they took with the first overall pick in 2023 returning to play for them next season there’s no doubt that the cheers reverberating out of the Insurance Arena will be heard all the way across Lake Erie and up into Matthew’s hometown of Hamilton, Ontario.

Who Stays/Who Goes, and What Enticing Free Agents Might the Flyers Look to Add this Off Season?

By |May 10th, 2024|

Let us now take a look at what the team should do with the players who have expiring contracts and whom they might replace them with if they choose not to re-sign them.

To make things easier, I will break them down into positions. First up, we will take a look at what the team has offensively.

On the front lines, the Flyers look pretty set since most of the players will be returning next season to play out the remainder of their contracts. And to add to that, Briere has already shown that he wishes to be proactive instead of reactive in nature (like past administrations) by getting a jump on things given his recent re-signing Owen Tippett, who was due to be a restricted free agent this summer to a new eight-year deal worth over $49 million. They also decided to bring back center Ryan Poehling for an additional two seasons to the tune of $1.9 Million a season.

In addition to these NHL re-signings, Danny also chose to sign a 25-year-old 6’4 220-pound winger named Oscar Eklind out of the SHL to a one-year prove-it type deal. Eklind is a fast-moving power forward who was able to score 17 goals this season for the Lulea HF and should pose a real threat to take someone’s spot on the Flyers out of camp.

Also, management has inked their recent NCAA National Champion-winning prospect, center Massimo Rizzo, to a two-year entry-level contract. Rizzo, of course, played for the University of Denver this past season, scoring 34 points in 30 regular season games played for the Pioneers.

Thus leaving the soon-to-be 23-year-old restricted free agent Bobby Brink as the only piece offensively to have to re-sign this off-season. However, even though re-signing him should come easy, seeing that he is a (RFA) restricted free agent. He could prove to be a viable trade chip if the Flyers wished to package him up in a deal in an effort to move up in the draft, considering he showed some real promise in his first entire season with the team, where he was able to score 11 goals, and 12 assists for 23 points in 57 games played.

But this does not mean the team should not seek help offensively come July 1st, for they have a bunch of forwards with expiring contracts next season that include unrestricted ones like Cam Atkinson, Travis Konecny, and Garnet Hathaway. Not to mention restricted ones like Noah Cates, Morgan Frost, and Tyson Foerster.

So, although signing a potential free agent right now would make it a little crowded, my thought process would be to try and cut some dead weight and save some money at the same time. A way to do that would be to buy out 34-year-old Cam Atkinson this summer, whose point totals took a drastic nosedive this past season. This move would save the Flyers a total of $3,516,666 next season but force them to have to pay $1,758,334 the following season as well as in the form of a cap penalty.

Yakov Trenin

With this move, though, the Flyers could look to sign a guy like UFA forward Yakov Trenin. Trenin is a 27-year-old 6’2 201 pound human wrecking ball. Throughout his time in Nashville and even now with Colorado, his unrelenting, aggressive play style has allowed him to move up and down the lineup when needed, mainly when injuries occur.

He can play center as well as wing and is known around the league to be a very high-energy guy. And while he may not be the most talented player out on the ice, he is one to watch still as he is a guy that will undoubtedly outwork you!

For example, Yakov is a 200ft player who lives to deliver massive mind-erasing hits to unsuspecting players on the opposition who are taking their time gathering the puck out of the boards in both their defensive and offensive zones. Not to mention, Trenin has the admirable trait of being willing to stand up for his teammates. Fearless in his approach, Yakov is but one of few players who have been crazy enough to drop the gloves on more than one occasion with the “Nephilim-like” Zdeno Chara.

But beyond all that, the one thing that should make Trenin a definite target over others this off-season is the fact that he is Russian and could help ease the transition for Philly’s star prospect Matvei Michkov, who the team have hinted at the possibility of maybe being able to break free from his contract in the KHL so can join the team as early as this upcoming season.

Now, Yakov is coming off a deal that paid him $1.7 million a season and is rumored to be looking to get a much-deserved raise. But the Flyers may not have to pony up more than you think to acquire his services this off-season. Because Trenin was traded to Colorado and the Avalanche are stacked and therefore only using him to center their fourth line. Not to mention the fact that this off-season, Colorado is set to lose more than half of their offense as well as their defense to free agency, which includes names like Casey Mittelstadt, Jonathan Drouin, and ex-Flyer Sean Walker, whom all they will have to pay dearly for.

So, in my mind, Yakov could bring the Flyers more bang for the buck than he could Colorado. Besides, this underrated player seems like he would not only be a fan favorite here in the City of Brotherly Love but also appear as he would flourish in Tortorella’s system. To the point that I would expect him to reach a new career high in goals under John’s tutelage. (NOTE: his previous career high in goals is 17).

Moving on to defense, we can now begin to see some holes appear as the team has multiple veteran UFA defenders, such as 36-year-old Erik Johnson and 37-year-old Marc Staal, to make decisions on.

In my mind, it should have been to the point that they both should have been told at the team’s exit interviews. Thanks for what you did for the team this season, but we will no longer need your services moving forward.

This in no way is to say that they did not play a role. Both players brought an extensive amount of knowledge and experience to a very youthful defensive core. Still, with that being said, the team would benefit from an upgrade in that area. However, I don’t see the need for multiple veterans to offer their guidance to their youth. Thus, potentially providing a roster spot for one of their impressive blueliners in their system to make the big clubs’ opening night roster next season: Yegor Zamula, Ronnie Attard, Emil Andrae, Adam Ginning, Helge Grans, and/or Oliver Bonk will all prove to be options who could fight for this spot.

So, which veteran blueliner should Philadelphia look to sign this offseason, you might be asking?

Jani Hakanpaa

Well, if I had my choice, it would be Dallas’ towering 6’7, 225-pound defender who goes by the name Jani Hakanpaa. Jani is 32 years old and is set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Now, while his statistics of two goals and ten assists for twelve points this season may not blow you away. His defensive prowess should. Hakanpaa is a force that is not to be messed with in his own zone.

Whether it’s clearing his goalie’s porch, laying a huge hit to regain puck possession, or standing up for teammates after the opposition has laid a dirty hit, Jani can do it all with punishing force.

And, while he may not be known for his offensive skill set, it should be known that in due-or-die situations when his team is down, Hakanpaa has proven to let one rip right past the goalie from atop the point.

So, I think the Flyers would be crazy not try to offer the league’s most underrated defenseman, (who is currently playing over twenty minutes a game for the Stars right now in the playoffs), a contract come July 1st. Especially since he has never been paid over $1.5 million a season in his entire career and has gained more playoff experience than most of the players combined currently on the Flyers roster throughout just the last three seasons.


For the first time in my life, I feel confident enough to say that there is depth between the pipes in Philadelphia!

This, of course, comes as much more of a surprise given the fact that the Flyers lost Carter Hart to legal troubles mid-season.

So, it should go without saying that the team should look to let Hart’s expiring contract go to the wayside, given the fact that they will still have Samuel Ersson playing on his rookie deal and just re-signed the long-awaited “Russian Bear” Ivan Fedotov to a new two-year deal that will pay him $3.275 million a season.

With that being said, the team should let their 27-year-old pending UFA goalie Felix Sandstrom walk as well, seeing that he has been with the team for parts of four seasons and has yet to impress.

Still, if the Flyers wanted some short-term reassurance given the fact that Ivan’s stats this season upon joining the club late in the year were as follows: a 4.95 goals-against-average (G.A.A.) and a .811 save percentage (SV%). It might make sense to give Fedotov just a little more time to get used to playing on the smaller ice surface.

Scott Wedgewood

So if they felt such a need I guess I would suggest taking a look into what it would cost them to sign a player like Scott Wedgewood. Scott is a 31-year-old netminder who you may remember from his days playing for a struggling New Jersey team, but for me, it is the body of work he has been able to put up while in Texas that should have grabbed the Flyers’ attention.

For example, over the last three seasons playing as a backup in Dallas and making just one million dollars, Wedgewood has been able to average a 2.83 G.A.A. and a .907 SV%. And, if those stat lines weren’t impressive enough, you’d be surprised to find out that he was able to tally 16 regular season wins this season.

But I would not want the team to offer him anything longer than a one-year deal, given that they have the likes of goalies Alexei Kolosov, Carson Bjarnason, and Yegor Zavragin all developing at a pretty fast pace in their system as we speak.

And, if the Flyers are capable of pulling off these simple acquisitions I listed above, I think that they would be in a much better position to start next season than they were this past September.

*As always, let me know what you think*

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