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Could Flyers draft another Finnish winger with exciting tools? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Brent Flahr quipped that he hopes the Flyers won't be picking this high again in a long time.
Nonetheless, though, Flahr and his amateur scouting staff are confident about landing a really good player around the top five of the 2022 NHL draft.
"Yeah, I think we’ve gone over the players that we feel are the best five and we’ve gone over different scenarios of what we think the teams in front of us will take. There are still some unknowns, though," Flahr said June 10 in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "But I think we’re happy with the number of different players at the position, probably even a couple of more further. Depending on how it falls, maybe you trade back a couple of spots even or look to trade up. We’ll see how it goes."
Following a 25-46-11 season, the Flyers are slotted at No. 5 overall in this year's draft, which will be held July 7-8 at Bell Centre in Montreal. The Flyers have six total selections. The first round kicks off at 7 p.m. ET Thursday, while Rounds 2-7 follow Friday starting at 11 a.m. ET.
"I think it’s been well-documented, there’s no Connor McDavids in the draft or whatnot. But there is some depth early in the draft," Flahr said. "There’s different positions — there’s a few centermen, there’s a couple of right-shot defensemen with skill and size, there’s a couple of scoring right wingers, there’s a power winger.
"There are some interesting players early. I think it’s going to be a really interesting first round. … It’s going to be surprising I think to a lot of people, I think there could be a lot of surprises in the early going of this draft."
Leading up to July 7-8, we're breaking down draft targets for the Flyers at No. 5.
The 18-year-old Finnish native has all the scoring tools. The creative playmaker is NHL Central Scouting's second-ranked European skater and considered the third-best player in the draft by TSN's Craig Button.
For JYP in Liiga, Finland's top pro league, Kemell led all rookies with 15 goals over 39 games. He put up 23 points and 175 shots in 16:13 minutes per game.
"He has one of the best overall shots among the top tier of this draft class and has higher-end puck skills that allow him to beat defenders 1-on-1 and create better scoring opportunities for himself," DailyFaceoff.com's Chris Peters wrote. "At the U18 Worlds, he took over games at times in leading Finland to a bronze medal."
There's variance on where Kemell could go in the first round. His ceiling appears to be at the Flyers' No. 5 spot and his floor looks like just outside the top 10. An anonymous scout told The Athletic's Corey Pronman that he felt Kemell had the biggest chance to slide.
"I like the shot and skill, but I don’t see him as a driver in the NHL," the scout said to Pronman. "I think he’s close to a finished product physically too."
Fit with Flyers
The Flyers headlined their 2021 draft class with 5-foot-10, 179-pound Finnish right winger Samu Tuomaala. The club, which traded its first-round pick in the Rasmus Ristolainen deal, selected Tuomaala during the second round.
The Flyers haven't drafted many Finns; Tuomaala is the only one currently in their system. They likely want to enhance their chances at finding and developing more European talent. Last month, they brought on board Sami Kapanen, a former Flyer and Finnish native, for European player development and pro scouting.
Will the Flyers go with another Finnish right winger to lead this draft? They'll draft the best player available, despite going heavy on right wingers the last three years (Tuomaala, Bobby Brink, Tyson Foerster, Zayde Wisdom). But while Tuomaala is raw, he also has the tools. The Flyers are hoping he can turn into a scoring threat similar to Kemell. So perhaps the right winger depth sways them a tad.
"We have a few needs, especially when you’re looking two or three years down the road," Flahr said about replenishing at certain positions. "We haven’t drafted many centermen in recent years. … We’d certainly look there, left wingers. But things change. We’re not drafting these guys to necessarily play next year. So I think if there’s a dramatic difference, we’ll go best player. Doesn’t matter where they play. All being equal, maybe we would go position."
Regardless, the Flyers will draft the best player available at No. 5. They need more high-end scoring talent in their system and Kemell has the potential to really help.
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