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The Flyers opted to not sign Connor McClennon before Wednesday's 5 p.m. ET deadline, making the 2020 sixth-round pick a draft-related unrestricted free agent.
It was a tough decision for the Flyers and one that might draw some ire or head scratching.
At the junior level, the right winger put up 43 goals in 62 games for the WHL's Winnipeg ICE. No Flyers prospect netted more goals this season than McClennon, who went on to finish with 81 points. He added 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) through 15 games of the WHL playoffs.
"I was really impressed with him," Medicine Hat general manager and head coach Willie Desjardins said last month after facing McClennon six times during the regular season. "He always attacks, he has great speed, he's always on the hunt. He's not a guy that waits for something to happen; he's always a player that's trying to make something happen. Super competitive, really a guy you'd love to have on your team."
McClennon, who turns 20 years old this month, is regarded as a quality kid and junior player. But he's a smaller winger at 5-foot-8, 160 pounds. With his size, there were some concerns about other areas of his game that needed more development for the next step.
Trying to project if a junior player's game will translate to the pro level against men is a difficult and inexact science. For example, Morgan Frost had 42 goals and 112 points over 67 games for the OHL's Soo Greyhounds in his third year at the junior ranks — not even his final year. The talented 23-year-old center is continuing to refine his game with the Flyers in an effort to score at the NHL level.
What also likely played a factor in the Flyers' decision on McClennon was the team's young trio of right wingers Bobby Brink, Tyson Foerster and Zayde Wisdom turning pro next season. That could have limited McClennon's opportunity moving forward.
The Flyers went winger-heavy in the 2020 draft. They decided to part ways with one of those four wingers Wednesday. McClennon will look for his next shot elsewhere.
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