Evaluating Experts' Mock Drafts for the Philadelphia Flyers

Michael PizzutilloCorrespondent IIIMay 24, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22:  Scott Laughton (3rd R), 20th pick overall by the Philadelphia Flyers, poses with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (L) and Flyers representatives during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As the Philadelphia Flyers evaluate their potential first pick in the NHL draft, many experts have already weighed in with their own mock drafts.

NHL.com's experts Steve Hoffner, Adam Kimelman and Mike G Morreale predicted three different sets of mock drafts, especially with Philadelphia's No. 11 selection. Hoffner and Kimelman believe the Flyers will focus on defense, predicting Darnell Nurse or Rasmus Ristolainen, respectively, will be the team's first-round pick. Where Morreale estimates Philly will concentrate on offense or best-available player, by selecting forward Hunter Shinkaruk.

The obvious and popular first-round pick would be selecting a blueliner for the future—something Philadelphia has not done since drafting Luca Sbisa in 2008. A year later, Sbisa would be traded to the Anaheim Ducks for future Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Pronger. Additionally, the Flyers have failed to fill the void of Pronger's absence in the lineup the last two seasons.

If the Flyers do take Nurse or Ristolainen, the team would be making an investment for the future, yet lacking an immediate impact for next season. Nurse, 18, who stands at 6'5" and weighs close to 200 pounds, enjoys throwing his body around—playing a Broad Street Bully style of hockey. And Ristolainen is an impressive two-way defender with incredible skills on both ends of the ice.

Philadelphia does lack an additional true goal scorer. Jake Voracek emerged this season and Wayne Simmonds contributed for most of the year, but the Flyers need a weapon on offense and Shinkaruk may be one of the best players available this draft. The young forward dominated the WHL with 37 goals and 49 assists in 64 games for the Medicine Hat Tigers this past season.

Additionally, Shinkaruk may be the most pro-ready player available to the Flyers and could make a rapid impact for the team.

Either way, the Flyers have gaping holes on their roster and issues that need to be addressed. It's likely the team will focus on defense, even if the experts' picks prove wrong. With the draft class being fairly deep, Philadelphia may have a plethora of talented players available at the 11th pick (see Ryan Pulock), and should be building for the future.