Wednesday, August 3, 2016

30 Teams in 30 Days - Philadelphia Flyers

The city of brotherly love, Philadelphia is next.

1. Travis Konecny - Sarnia Sting
He was good in Ottawa, but it wasn't until the trade to Sarnia that his game really turned around. IMO, he was maybe the best player in the league in the 2nd half of the season. Every time I saw Sarnia play, he was absolutely fantastic and impacted the game on so many levels. His speed impacted the game on the forecheck, off the rush, and defensively. His skill level impacted the game by creating scoring chances nearly every time he stepped on the ice. His confidence was at a new level with the puck. And his physicality is growing to be a very underrated component to his game. Of his 101 points, only 28 of them (including just 5 goals) were with the man advantage. He's such a dangerous player 5 on 5. Unfortunately for him, (and the Sarnia Sting), he suffered a shoulder injury in the playoffs and this was IMO, the main reason why the Sting didn't get out of the first round after loading up for a Memorial Cup run. Them's the breaks. Next year, Konecny can return to the OHL for one more ride. But I just don't see that happening. I think he makes the Flyers next year because of the versatility in his game. Similar to the way Robby Fabbri made the Blues this past season, Konecny can find success bringing energy to a checking line to start until he gains confidence in his offensive game. The only way he goes back to junior is if Philadelphia isn't convinced he can handle the NHL physically. Of course, if he's back in the OHL, he could definitely be a candidate for the Red Tilson and should be part of a competitive Sting team.

2. Connor Bunnaman - Kitchener Rangers
Bunnaman was a solid selection by the Flyers. Reminds me a lot of Nick Paul from his original draft year (and they were drafted in similar spots). Real big kid who plays a heavy game. Already solid at both ends, and has the potential to dominate along the wall. As his skating improves, he should become more of a consistent offensive threat because the hands are underrated IMO. At this point, he's a winger, but again, if the skating improves I think he could slide back to center (his natural position), just as Paul did. Kitchener is losing some big offensive pieces next year, but they've got some great depth and should still be a solid team. Bunnaman has a chance to be a top 6 forward, but could find himself back on the third line too. Either way, he should see some time in all situations for the Rangers. I think a realistic expectation would be the 50 point mark (maybe 20/30). Then the big jump could happen in 2017/2018.

3. Anthony Salinitri - Sarnia Sting
Finished the year well (8 goals in his final 11 regular season games) and I think that likely secured a draft spot for himself. Probably didn't hurt that the Flyers had a good look at him this year while scouting Travis Konecny too (especially since they saw some time on the same line together). Salinitri is an extremely quick center who plays the game at a very quick tempo. He definitely has some goal scoring potential as he learns to harness his speed. The hands need to catch up to the feet a bit too, and adding strength will help him to be a bit more consistent. Salinitri flashes a bit of a pest game and I think that the development of a physical/energy component is going to be key moving forward for him as a smaller player. There's certainly potential there as a strong two-way asset. Depending on the players that return to Sarnia (be it Konecny or Zacha), Salinitri could even have a shot at being the 1st line center next year. Either way, he should be a lock for the top 6 and he'll see more powerplay time. I could definitely see him potting 25 goals.

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