The Philadelphia Flyers missed the playoffs this past season for the 2nd time in 3 seasons, earning them a top-10 draft pick in this year's NHL Entry Draft. They finished 6th in the Metropolitan Division with 84 points, 14 points out of a playoff spot. After firing Peter Laviolette when the team went 0-3 to start the 2013-14 season, Craig Berube stepped in to finish out the season, posting a 42-27-10 record in the remaining 79 games and losing to the Rangers in the opening round of the 2014 playoffs in 7 games.
With the significant drop-off this past season Berube was relieved of his coaching duties and long time
Fighting Sioux UND coach Dave Hakstol was brought in to turn their fortunes around. Hakstol posted a 289-141-43 record in 11 seasons with UND (174-97-31 conference record) and 4 NCAA Frozen Four appearances having been unable to win the National Championship game. Hakstol will have 2-first round selections in this years draft with the Flyers holding the Tampa Bay Lightning's first round pick coming from the Flyers sending Braydon Coburn down south in a trade deadline deal.
Flyers Prospect Pool
While the Flyers are definitely lacking at the forward position in the prospect pool, especially with center depth, they have some serious depth defensively and not a lot of spots for these kids. The excess in defense may not come to a head this season, as some of the kids are still at least year out from turning pro. Defensemen like Samuel Morin, Travis Sanheim and Shayne Gostisbehere round out a top 5 prospects as listed by Hockey's Future which include 4 defensemen.
With the established defensemen on the roster and a nice talent pool coming up behind them, I struggle to believe the Flyers would look to defense with their first pick in the first round. Unless Noah Hanifin were to magically fall to them (he wont), look for the Flyers to potentially draft forwards with both of their first round selections.
About Lawson Crouse
Crouse comes to us from the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. He's a sizeable winger measuring in at 6'4" and 215 pounds. This guy practically screams Flyers hockey. His size makes him formidable on the ice, often electing to go through the opposition as opposed to going around them. Nicknamed "The Sheriff" by his Frontenac teammates, Crouse is known for sticking up for his teammates, and isn't afraid to grit it up when called upon. His size makes him a hard-hitting power forward type that any team would be happy to have streaking down the wings. He was 6th in PIM on his team, racking up 70 minutes in the sin-bin last season.
Gritz isn't the only trait Crouse brings to the ice. He led the Frontenacs last season in both goals and points, scoring 29 goals and 51 points in 56 games. He also pocketed 6 goals in 5 games for Gold-Medal winning Team Canada at the 2015 World Junior Tournament. He's tough to get off the puck and his forecheck can be frustrating to the opposition's defense. He'll win pucks down low and create scoring chances. He has decent speed and his puck handling skill is pretty good too. On the defensive side of the puck he is relentless along the wall, and is good on getting in the shooting lanes. He is not afraid to sacrifice his body to block a shot either.
Wild about Lawson Crouse?
It's tough to slot Crouse into the current Wild roster. While he is definitely a 'High-Reward' draft prospect, his benefit to next year's roster would be minimal to non-existent. Bringing him in would be a boon to the Iowa Wild however. He'll be celebrating his 18th birthday the week of the draft, and may hone his skill in the OHL for another season or two before turning pro. After drafting Alex Tuch with their first round selection last year, I don't see Crouse being particularly high on the Wild's draft board. If he falls to 20 (which he could), I'm not sure the Wild wouldn't elect to find a pure center over a winger unless the drop-off in talent or potential is very noticeable.