Flyers Draft

Flyers could have shot at Yakemchuk, a defenseman with ‘rare combination'

The 6-foot-3 defenseman had a 30-goal, 71-point season for the WHL's Calgary Hitmen

NBC Universal, Inc.

Despite overachieving for the majority of the 2023-24 season, the Flyers still have a rebuilding mindset. The club's decision-makers know there's a need for more talent and that the entry draft remains the best avenue to acquire it.

"The bulk of it still needs to be done through our young guys, mostly through the draft," general manager Danny Briere said in April.

The Flyers will have a good opportunity to augment their future when the 2024 NHL draft arrives June 28-29 at the Sphere in Las Vegas. The first round is Friday at 7 p.m. ET, while Rounds 2-7 are Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Like last summer, the Flyers could have up to 10 picks, including two first-rounders. Barring a trade, they'll make their top overall selection at No. 12. Briere believes the Flyers "can get a very talented player" at that spot.

More: Trade candidates? How many picks? Five Flyers things to know for the 2024 NHL draft

In the first round of the 2023 draft, the Flyers took a swing on Matvei Michkov at No. 7 and grabbed Oliver Bonk at No. 22. They should also have two first-round picks in 2025.

Leading up to the 2024 draft, we're breaking down targets for the Flyers at No. 12.

Next up:

Carter Yakemchuk

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 202
Shoots: Right
Team: Calgary Hitmen

Scouting report

There's a lot of intrigue to Yakemchuk and it goes well beyond his size and right-handed shot.

He's immensely mobile and skilled for a big defenseman. But he's not all flash. He likes to defend with some nastiness and physicality.

"He scored 30 goals and he had over 100 minutes in penalties," Dan Marr, the vice president of NHL Central Scouting, said two weeks ago in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "That's a rare combination."

Yakemchuk's 30 goals for the WHL's Hitmen ranked second among all defensemen in Canadian major junior hockey this season. Only Zayne Parekh of the OHL's Saginaw Spirit had more with 33 and he's a potential top-five pick in this draft.

Adding 41 assists, Yakemchuk finished second on Calgary with 71 points in 66 regular-season games. His 120 penalty minutes put him in a three-way tie for the WHL's fifth most. The long and lithe blueliner can dance around defenders with the puck on his stick and likes to quickly close gaps when he's in coverage.

"I don't know if he has fully matured into his body yet, so the upside with him is very, very intriguing," Marr said. "When you see him with the puck at the offensive blue line and in the offensive zone, you'd swear he's a forward. He has got that type of skill set, that type of offensive capabilities to him.

"He's tough, he defends with a purpose, he's not afraid to utilize his size. It takes a lot to get over 100 minutes in penalties."

Yakemchuk, who is considered older for his draft year, turning 18 last September, will have to refine his defensive game. That is common for most prospects. Defending at the junior level is different than defending against pros. In three seasons with the Hitmen, Yakemchuk owns a minus-33 rating.

He's the 11th-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting and considered the 17th overall prospect by TSN's Bob McKenzie has Yakemchuk at No. 13 and TSN's Craig Button has him at No. 15.

"There are parts of his game that just have to be taught yet, which he'll learn at the NHL level," Marr said. "I think as he becomes a pro, his defensive game will tighten up even more than what it is. But he has got the skating, which is very elite for someone his size, to where he has got the mobility and the agility to stay with the forwards when he's defending."

Jenn Pierce/Calgary Hitmen

Fit with Flyers

The 2024 draft class is heavy on defensemen. There's a possibility four or five go in the top 10, so Yakemchuk could be the next one up for the Flyers if they view him as the best player available at No. 12.

The righty-shot component is always attractive to NHL clubs. If the Flyers were to draft Yakemchuk, they'd have a chance at a bright future on the right side when you include the 19-year-old Bonk and the 22-year-old Jamie Drysdale, among others.

Flyers amateur scout Mark Greig has long watched the WHL and the club has plucked a few blueliners from Calgary's program: Travis Sanheim (2014 first-round pick) and Egor Zamula (2018 undrafted free-agent signing).

The Flyers need to find more answers for their future on defense and really build from the back to the front. Yakemchuk has the potential to help them prevent goals and also create them on the power play.

"He has got all the ingredients to be a complete package and it's just going to take some experience and maturity before it all comes together," Marr said. "You draft him now and then two to three years down the road, this is what you're projecting. I kind of think he's an easy projection. He's one of these players that could go top 10 or he could slide a little bit, you just never know how the teams are going to approach it."

More targets

Flyers should like Helenius, 'one of the top talents in the draft'

Flyers draft target Catton has 'ingredients' to be first-line center

Flyers draft target Iginla has impressive NHL lineage and 'very high ceiling'

Eiserman, 'the best goal scorer in this draft,' an option for Flyers?

'The full package' Connelly has interesting draft case for Flyers

With 'no real holes to his game,' Jiricek an option for Flyers at No. 12

Is Brandsegg-Nygard close to pro-ready and a possibility for Flyers?

Sennecke, a big winger set to 'explode offensively,' will be on Flyers' radar

Should Boisvert, a future 'impact center,' have Flyers' attention?

'He's a special, special hockey player' — Greentree a fit for Flyers at No. 12?

Subscribe anywhere you get your podcasts: 
Apple Podcasts | Youtube Music | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | RSSWatch on YouTube

Contact Us