Flyers and Phantoms Future Prospects Pool Grows by 10
June 29, 2023
The Philadelphia Flyers selected ten players during the 2023 NHL Draft Wednesday and Thursday from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., including eight players during rounds two through seven today. Philadelphia selected five forwards, three defensemen, and two goaltenders, including six Canadians, two Russians, one American, and one Slovakian.
Many of these players will eventually make their way to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms but not right away. All of the players selected this week are only 17 or 18 years old. However, there will still be an exciting sneak preview of many of these future Phantoms and Flyers at PPL Center when the NHL again arrives to downtown Allentown in September with the Flyers vs. Rangers Rookie Series.
While these players likely won’t be suiting up for the Phantoms for a few years, they will still get to play for the Philadelphia Flyers alongside other top prospects in the pair of games at PPL Center coming September 15-16.
On Wednesday, Philadelphia selected right wing Matvei Michkov with the seventh overall selection of the 2023 NHL Draft. Michkov, 18 (12/9/04), collected 20 points (9g, 11a) in 27 games with Sochi of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) after being loaned to the club by Ska St. Petersburg. The 5-foot-10, 172-pound native of Perm, Russia, finished fourth on the team in scoring, despite playing at least 28 games fewer than the players in the Top Three. The left-shot right wing won a junior league championship in 2021-22 after tallying 30 goals and 21 assists for 51 points in 28 games. His 30 goals were tied for the 10th most in the league. He was named Best Forward and Most Valuable Player representing Russia at the 2021 Under-18 World Championship where he led all skaters in goals and points (12g, 4a – 16 pts) in seven games while earning a silver medal.
“Matvei’s been a world-class player since he came on the scene a number of years ago. We didn’t get the live viewings, but we spent a lot of time watching over the last few years. We are just really excited to get this type of talent. It does not happen very often,” said Brent Flahr, Vice President and Assistant General Manager. “We got to meet with him in Voorhees last Friday and got a comfort level with his personality. He’s very driven. He wants to be the best. We are excited for him to be a Flyer. Meeting him here again with the entire staff, everybody got a comfort level. We are just really fired up to get him.”
“I’m glad to be a Flyer. I have no words,” said Michkov. “This is my dream, and my dream is to win the Stanley Cup.”
With the second pick for the Flyers that night and the 22nd pick overall in the 2023 NHL Draft, the Flyers selected Oliver Bonk from the London Knights. Bonk, 18 (1/9/05), tallied 10 goals and 30 assists for 40 points in 67 games with the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). The 6-foot-2, 180-pound native of Ottawa, Ontario, ranked fifth on the team in assists and eighth in points. The right-shot defenseman also collected 11 assists in 21 playoff games with London. He ranked fourth in playoff points amongst defenseman in the OHL. He also appeared in five games for Canada in the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. His dad, Radek, played in the NHL with Ottawa, Montreal, and Nashville.
“Oliver’s a defenseman that we are very high on. He is a coveted right-shot defenseman. Very cerebral. Excellent puck mover. Solid defender. Just steadily improved throughout the season. He’s a good-sized kid, but he is just growing into his body. We feel he is just scratching the surface at this point,” said Flahr. “He’s very aware of what he is, what he is good at and what he needs to work at. Obviously, we are just excited to get him.”
“It feels great. A dream come true. I don’t even remember walking down the stairs. Just a dream come true,” said Bonk.
On Thursday, Philadelphia received the 51st overall pick in the second round from Chicago in exchange for Philadelphia’s sixth-round pick, 167th overall, in this year’s draft and a second-round pick in 2024 NHL Draft.
Philadelphia selected goaltender Carson Bjarnason in the second round with the 51st overall selection. The 6-foot-3, 186-pound native of Brandon, Manitoba, posted a record of 21-19-5 with a 3.08 GAA, .900 save percentage, and three shutouts in 27 games for Brandon. The left-catching goaltender earned the Top Manitoba Born Player Award and the Three Stars Award. The 17-year-old (6/30/05) helped Canada earn a Bronze Medal as the team’s starting goaltender at the Under-18 World Championships, tallying a 4-2-0 record with a 3.51 GAA and .849% save percentage in six games. He appeared in the 2023 CHL/NHL Top Prospects game and denied 16 of 17 shots in the 31 minutes he played.
“Carson was one of the top-rated Canadian goalies coming into the season. He’s big. He’s athletic. He has dynamic movements. Our goalie coaches and goalie scouts have been very high on him,” said Flahr. “He’s had a big role in Brandon the last couple of years and he has a chance to be a Hockey Canada goalie here going forward. We are excited to get him.”
The Flyers selected goaltender Egor Zavragin from Mamonty Ugry in the third round with the 87th overall pick. He becomes just the second Russian goaltender drafted by the Flyers in franchise history behind Ivan Fedotov in the 2015 NHL Draft. Zavragin, 17 (8/23/05), recorded an 11-6-1 record with a 2.49 GAA, .920 SV%, and one shutout in 21 games for Mamonty Ugry of the MHL. The 6-foot-2, 183-pound native of Novosibirsk, Russia, added a 2-2-0 record in four playoff games for Mamonty Yugry, accumulating a 2.68 GAA and .927 SV%. The 17-year-old (8/23/05) goaltender ranked third in save percentage, T-3rd in wins, and fourth in goals against average amongst 17-year-old goaltenders in the MHL.
“Egor is one of our high-rated goalies that we had. We had a group of goalies that we were high on, and he was one of them. We thought he has too good a value to pass up,” said Flahr. “He is a talented kid. He is over in a good program over there. Obviously, we have time for him to develop.”
With the Flyers selecting Bjarnason and Zavragin in the third round today, it marks the 14th time the Flyers have drafted multiple goaltenders in the same draft.
Philadelphia selected center Denver Barkey in the third round with the 95th overall selection. The 5-foot-9, 155-pound native of Newmarket, Ontario, spent the 2022-23 season with London of the OHL and recorded 59 points (22g, 37a) in 61 games. The 18-year-old (4/27/05) also posted 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points in 20 playoff games with London. The left-shot center represented Canada in the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, registering four points (2g, 2a) in five games.
“Denver Barkey is one of the favorites of our staff. He’s a little under-sized, but dynamic and offensive junior. High-speed. Lots of energy. He’s going to be a fan favorite wherever he plays,” said Flahr.
The Flyers selected forward Cole Knuble in the fourth round with the 103rd overall selection. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound native of Grand Rapids, Mich., tallied 30 goals and 36 assists for 66 points in 57 games with the Fargo Force in the United States Hockey League (USHL). The right-shot center led his team in goals and points to earn a spot on the USHL First All-Star Team. The 18-year-old (7/1/04) also received the Curt Hammer Award as the USHL’s gentleman of the year. On the international stage, he netted four goals in four games for Team USA at the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He is committed to University of Notre Dame. His dad, Mike, appeared in 1,068 NHL games, including 338 games for Philadelphia.
“Cole is USHL Player of the Year. He went through the draft last year. Really worked hard at getting stronger this year. Dramatically improved his skating,” said Flahr. “Just a real sound two-way player. Really hard-working kid. He’s got some Flyers-sized as well.”
Philadelphia selected forward Alex Ciernik in the fourth round with the 120th overall selection. The 5-foot-10, 179-pound native of Wolfsburg, Germany, tallied three goals and nine assists for 12 points in 25 games in the HockeyAllsvenskan where he split time between Sodertalje and Vasterviks. The left-shot winger also produced nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points with Sodertalje J20 of the J20 Nationell. The 18-year-old (10/8/04) collected three points (2g, 1a) in five games with Slovakia at the 2023 World Junior Championship. His father, Ivan, played in the NHL with Ottawa and Washington.
“Alex is a highly skilled kid. Terrific skater. His father is an ex-player and a skills coach now over there. He had a great start to the season and on the Slovak team. Playing in Sweden with Sodertalje, his role diminished a little in the second half. Maybe lost his confidence a little bit,” said Flahr. “His skill set is very high-end. We are very excited to see how he develops going forward. He knows he needs to get stronger. He is playing on a team where he is going to have a big role.”
The Flyers selected defenseman Carter Sotheran in the fifth round with the 135th overall selection. The 6-foot-3, 197-pound native of Sanford, Manitoba, produced four goals and 19 assists for 23 points in 68 games with Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League (WHL). The 18-year-old (6/26/05) right-shot defenseman tallied one assist in nine playoff games this season.
“He is a big body. He is another guy that got better and better. He has got some rawness to him, but he is big, long, and rangy. He can defend and started to add some dimensions to his game in the second half,” said Flahr.
Philadelphia selected forward Ryan MacPherson in the sixth round with the 172nd overall selection. The 6-foot, 176-pound native of Windsor, Ontario, tallied 25 goals and 36 assists for 61 points in 49 games with the Leamington Flyers of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOHJL). The left-shot center led his team in assists and ranked second in goals and points – trailing only his twin brother, Connor, in both categories. The 18-year-old (3/2/05) added a league-leading 38 points (14g, 24a) in 24 playoff games to help Leamington win the Sutherland Cup. Aside from his offensive prowess, Ryan was named the Top Defensive Forward in the GOJHL’s Western Conference. He will play for Penticton in the BCHL next season and is committed to University of New Hampshire for the 2024-25 season.
“Real good motor. [Rick] Pracey compares him a little bit to Noah Cates as far as compete and the way he plays a two-way game,” said Flahr. “At that point in the draft, it’s a no-brainer. Those are the kind of guys I typically like to target later just for a longer path, and you have time to develop.”
The Flyers selected defenseman Matteo Mann in the seventh round with the 199th overall selection. The 6-foot-6, 222-pound native of Sackville, New Brunswick, tallied five assists and 52 PIM in 45 games with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). The right-shot defenseman skated for Team Red at the 2023 CHL Top Prospects Game, where he fired two shots on goal. Off the ice, the 18-year-old (12/31/04) was named the Scholastic Player of the Month for February of 2023 in recognition of his studies at Athabasca University.
“Matteo Mann is a tower. He is a huge, huge man already. Obviously, he has got a longer path. He’s got to work on some things,” said Flahr. “Again, he is a big rig. He is long. He can skate and defend. He has been around the game a long time. He missed some time due to injury. He is a project, but he is a kid with lots to work with.”