2014 NHL Draft: 5 Perfect Fits for Philadelphia Flyers
The 2013-14 campaign has been a season of ups and downs for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Three straight losses out of the gate got Peter Laviolette fired and despite a win in Craig Berube's first game behind the bench, the Orange and Black still dropped seven of their first eight tilts overall.
The club found its groove in the season's second month, claiming nine victories and 20 points in the standings in November, but that momentum was quickly lost when the Flyers lost four of their first five contests in the calendar's final month.
Philly managed to recover, winning six of its final seven games in December, but has been completely mediocre in the new year (6-6-2).
Last night's triumph over the Detroit Red Wings put the Flyers back inside the postseason picture in the Eastern Conference, but Philadelphia is still, at best, a borderline playoff team.
And for clubs like that, it's never too early to start thinking about next year.
With that, here's a look at five players eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft that would be a perfect fit for the Flyers.
Alex Tuch, Forward
The Flyers and their fans have always loved a good power forward.
At 6'3" and 213 pounds, Alex Tuch projects as a rugged NHL power forward for many years to come. Despite his size, he's a solid skater with strong balance who uses his big frame to protect the puck and win battles along the walls.
He's an impressive forechecker with a nose for the net. In 37 games with the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP) this season, the Baldwinsville, N.Y., is tied for the team lead with 22 goals. As responsible defensively as he is dangerous offensively, Tuch currently leads all Ann Arbor skaters with a plus-24 rating.
Committed to Boston College, Tuch was recently ranked 21st among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's 2014 midterm rankings so he should be available late in the first round should the Flyers slide into the playoffs.
Joshua Ho-Sang, Forward
Today's NHL is all about speed, skill and creativity.
Joshua Ho-Sang possesses all three in abundance.
The 18-year-old native of Thornill, Ontario, may be small (5'11", 165 lbs.) but he's incredibly skilled and is an above-average skater.
What's more, Ho-Sang is tremendously dynamic and often turns heads with his puck possession and creativity in the offensive end.
In 47 games this season with the Windsor Spitfires (OHL), he's produced 23 goals and 62 points and is nearly a point-per-game player in two seasons in Windsor (106 points in 110 games).
Ho-Sang still needs to work on his game outside of the offensive zone but is already starting to take strides in that department recording a plus-25 rating to date this year after ending last season at minus-23.
Ranked 18th among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's 2014 midterm rankings, Ho-Sang should be a mid-to-late first-round selection and would bring some wow factor to south Philly.
Anthony DeAngelo, Defense
Defense was such a priority for the Flyers in last summer's draft the team did something it had only done once in the prior 10 years—draft blueliners with each of the club's first two selections.
And while the Orange and Black hold Samuel Morin (11th overall selection in 2013) and Robert Hagg (41st overall last year) in high regard, the team is quickly discovering it's impossible to have too many good, young defensemen in its system.
Current Philadelphia defenders Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros are both set to become unrestricted free agents at season's end, which means the Flyers will once again be in search of bodies on the back end.
Anthony DeAngelo is the kind of player who could patrol Philly's blue line for the next decade.
Slightly undersized (5'11", 165 lbs.), DeAngelo makes up for any lack of physical stature with his tremendous skating and offensive instincts.
In just 41 games this season with the Sarnia Sting (OHL), DeAngelo has already compiled 13 goals, 47 assists and 60 points.
He still needs to bulk up to be able to compete at the NHL level and must improve his positioning in the defensive zone (minus-24 this season), but DeAngelo's offensive tools might make him too good to pass up.
The Flyers have discovered first hand this season just how important that first outlet pass from the defensive zone is in creating offense at the other end, and DeAngelo could go a long way towards improving just that.
A native of Sewell, N.J., DeAngelo was ranked 10th overall among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's 2014 midterm rankings and would be a perfect hometown pick for Philadelphia.
Roland McKeown, Defense
Roland McKeown is a prototypical do-it-all defenseman.
A native of Listowel, Ontario, McKeown combines good size (6'1", 195 lbs.) with strong skating and incredible hockey sense. Never the flashiest player on the frozen surface, McKeown excels by thinking the game better than most and ensuring he's in position during each and every sequence.
Still, he possesses solid offensive tools and has already managed eight goals and 32 points in 44 games with the Kingston Frontenacs (OHL) this season. McKeown is excellent at distributing the puck and has a strong shot from the blue line.
But it's the way McKeown simplifies the game that sets him apart.
Ranked 15th overall among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's 2014 midterm rankings, he's exactly the kind of intelligent player the Flyers would be lucky to get late in the first round this June.
Thatcher Demko, Goaltender
The Flyers have been without a franchise goaltender since Ron Hextall. Could 19-year-old Thatcher Demko be the answer?
Philadelphia may have its netminder for the near future in Steve Mason (recently inked to a three-year, $12.3 million extension) but what about long term?
Demko is the highest rated North American netminder in the NHL Central Scouting's 2014 midterm rankings and could present Philly with quite the goaltending duo down the road when paired with 2012 second-round selection Anthony Stolarz.
At 6'3" and 195 pounds, Demko already possesses NHL size and is a prototypical butterfly-style stopper. He makes himself big in net and has outstanding lower coverage when down in the butterfly. His lateral post-to-past movement is good, and he displays excellent confidence when coming out to challenge shooters.
In games this season with Boston College, Demko is 7-1-2 while boasting a stingy 2.17 goals-against average coupled with an equally impressive .919 save percentage.
What's more, the netminder's character is off the charts. He's the kind of special talent the Flyers could build around for the next decade.