Over the years of Paul Holmgren's reign as general manager of the Flyers, that "best player available" never seems to be a defenseman. Don't think 'Homer' hasn't noticed and things need to change going forward if they are going to contend.
Holmgren spoke to CSN Philly about the draft and the possibility of taking a defenseman that early. Three names were discussed as possibilities: Darnell Nurse, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Ryan Pulock.
Nurse, 18, is the nephew of former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. Nurse stands 6'5", 192 lbs., and is highly considered to be one of the top defensemen in the draft. He is smooth on the blue line as he is big, plays physical, and is extremely mobile for a player his size. He mirrors his game after Chris Pronger and there is a resemblance. Nurse is strong with the puck on his stick and makes the high percentage play. His ability to recognize and execute the right play is up Nurse's alley as he is considered one of the smartest hockey players in the draft this year.
Ristolainen, 18, is a 6'3" 207 lbs. Finnish player who has shown the ability to move the puck and be more than just a capable offensive defenseman. He does not score a lot of goals but with a right-handed shot on the point and someone who sees passing lanes exceptionally well, Ristolainen is a valuable commodity. Ristolainen is surprisingly mobile for a player his size and has a physicality to his game. He is not overly physical or hard hitting but knows how to use his body to his advantage and does has somewhat of a mean streak that fits in well with the Flyers mantra.
Pulock, 18, is an offensively gifted defenseman who can really bring it with his shot from the point. Standing at just 6'1" 211 lbs. he can really generate power with his shot as it has been clocked at over 100 mph in skills competitions. In addition to his shot, he is an excellent passer who sees the ice very well. Pulock is steady with the puck and efficient with his passes which leads many to believe that he can run a NHL power-play almost immediately.
It would be surprising if Nurse was still on the board when the Flyers select but Ristolainen and Pulock should still be available. If anything it sounds like the Flyers will have options.
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