Hockey / Sports

Flyers end draft with focus on defense

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers continued to build their young defense, putting an emphasis on the position for the third draft in a row.

By the time the two-day NHL draft at the Wells Fargo Center ended Saturday, the Flyers had selected three defensemen and three forwards.

"It was a nice balance," general manager Ron Hextall said.

Hextall, the former Flyers goalie, had one gripe.

"I am a little disappointed we didn't get a goalie, but they just didn't fall where we hoped they would," he said.

The Flyers, who didn't make a trade during the draft, have selected 11 defensemen over the last three drafts.

After picking defenseman Travis Sanheim in the first round Friday, the Flyers added defenseman Mark Friedman, a Bowling Green recruit who had 10 goals and 30 assists in 51 games for Waterloo of the United States Hockey League, in the third round.

"I can bring offense and defense. I can be a power-play guy, a penalty-kill guy, and can be trusted in all situations," Friedman said.

The third drafted defenseman was 5-foot-8, 180-pound Jesper Pettersson, a seventh-round selection who helped Sweden win a silver medal at the 2014 World Junior Championships.

"Now, we've got Travis Sanheim, Friedman, and Pettersson," said Chris Pryor, the Flyers' director of scouting. "I think we've done a really good job of filling some of that gap maybe that we haven't had for a while."

The Flyers' first pick of the day, in the second round, was speedy right winger Nicolas Aube-Kubel, who was ranked 40th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting while playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. That was 13 spots higher than Sanheim.

"When I put the (Flyers) jersey on, it was very special," said Aube-Kubel, whose agent is Phil Lecavalier, brother of Flyers forward Vinny Lecavalier. "I heard the screams in the stands. It is amazing."

In the fifth round, the Flyers selected 17-year-old Swedish left winger Oskar Lindblom, ranked 23d among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

Pryor said Lindblom was projected as a potential late-first- or early-second-round pick a year ago and acknowledged that Lindblom had an inconsistent season.

"If you would have told me in the fall that we would be talking about him where we got him, we would be really excited, so we're happy," Pryor said.

The sixth-round pick was Radel Fazleev, an 18-year-old center who represented Russia in the under-18 World Junior Championships. In addition, he played in the Western Hockey League and was a teammate of Sanheim's in Calgary.

(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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