Since we know that the Philadelphia Flyers received the No. 11 pick in the first round of the 2013 NHL draft, it’s getting more unlikely that they will be able to draft their first choice. Everyone knows that the number one sought out pick, Seth Jones, is pretty much destined to be drafted by the Colorado Avalanche. The next best player that the Flyers should target is Darnell Nurse, but their position in the draft order may prevent them from doing so.
So, whose the next player the Flyers really need to target in this year’s NHL Draft?
How about Finnish defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen.
The 6’3”, 200 pound native of Finland, embodies the big defensive style of play that the Flyers tend to favor. The team tends to like small forwards to get in the crease, and large bodies in front of their net blocking shots. Due to this, Ristolainen would be the right fit for this team. He also is probably the third best defensemen in this year’s draft class, so the Flyers need to draft him if none of the teams who pick before them do.
Ristolainen has spent majority of his career playing for Finland’s TPS team. He’s gone back and forth between TPS and their Junior affiliate since 2009, but with each season he had shown improvement. He also gained attention back in January as a member of Team Finland in the 2013 IIHF’s World Junior Championships.
In this past season he played a career 52 games with TPS, while remaining consistent with three goals and setting up his teammates at the net 12 times. Although his ability to get on the scoreboard may not look all that great, since he’s a defenseman, the Flyers want him more for his ability to prevent other players from scoring.
This year’s draft class is pretty stacked, so grabbing Ristolainen right away will be key to the team’s future success. Even if they don’t get this particular player, the main thing the Flyers really need to do this year is draft a defenseman.