Tage Thompson, Luke Kunin, Jake Bean among NHL prospects Flyers interviewed at combine


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With the Flyers stockpiling defensemen in recent drafts and their need for goal scoring, conventional wisdom suggests they're looking for a forward this year.

But from talking with prospects at the 2016 NHL combine this weekend, it became clear general manager Ron Hextall and his crew are doing their homework on all prospects.

The Flyers have the 18th pick in the first round this year and have 10 picks overall, five of which come in the first three rounds. The draft takes place on June 24-25 in Buffalo.

It seems unlikely Hextall will be able to move into the top 5 from his positioning in the first round, and moving into the top 10 also appears unlikely based of Hextall's history.

Hextall values assets, especially draft picks, and moving up would cost a significant amount. At the combine, it appears they didn't interview prospects projected to go in the top 10. For example, they didn't talk with Pierre-Luc Dubois, a likely top-six pick.

A realistic possibility for the Flyers is a trade into the top 15, if they were to fall in love with a prospect, as the cost of moving up a few slots would be much more affordable.

The object of the combine is not only to watch players work out, but also to get to know them — what makes them tick, if they fit with the culture of the organization.

What we've learned at the combine is the Flyers have interviewed three projected first-round forwards and a defenseman, too.

With that said, here is a list of players the orange and black have interviewed thus far.

Projected first-rounders:

Luke Kunin
At 6-foot, 192 pounds, the Wisconsin star center was the player with the best vertical leap. That attribute has been linked to speed bursts in players and this one has a knack for getting down the ice quickly for scoring chances. He's also a terrific playmaker. He interviewed with 28 other teams, too.

Jake Bean
The defensive partner of budding Flyers star Travis Sanheim, the Calgary Hitmen's top left-side defender has decent size (6-1, 173), a frame to build on and his speed with the puck is tremendous. This pairing may have been the best in junior hockey this season.

German Rubstov
The 6-foot-1, 189-pound Russian center is pretty strong and there's room for improvement there. His fast shot, shifty skating and excellent stick and puck control make him an attractive pick. He's already a solid two-way player who is intending on playing in the QMJHL next season. The U-18 doping scandal that kept most of Team Russia from participating in the U-18 world junior championships hasn't affected his reputation as a player.

Tage Thompson
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound pivot will return to the University of Connecticut for his sophomore season. His goal is to weigh in at 215-220 pounds. For now, most are drooling over his measurables and solid 32-point freshman campaign. This power forward interviewed with all 30 teams.

Second round and beyond:

Vladimir Kuznetsov
The 6-foot-2, 214-pound right winger has a nickname of the "Russian Tank" for a reason. He had his guns out at the combine. Only four or five teams interviewed him — the Flyers included — and he seemed very keen on playing in Philadelphia. Kuznetsov scored 25 goals last season for the Acadie-Bathurst Titans in the Q. He has a pro shot and a physical edge to his game. The Flyers could use one of their four second- or-third round picks on him.

Tyler Benson
This 6-foot, 196-pound left winger was the captain of the Vancouver Giants this past season. He's very talented, but he played just 30 games because of a lower-body injury. He's no longer thought of as a first-round pick. He's a real wild card.

Adam Fox
This 5-foot-11, 185-pound defenseman could go in the third or fourth round. He has excellent speed and a high hockey I.Q. He played for the NTDP.

Lucas Johansen
The talented offensive defenseman met with 27 teams. At 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, Johansen completed 11 pullups, showing skinny doesn't always mean weak. The Kelowna star is the younger brother of Ryan Johansen, the Nashville Predators' star center.

Vitali Abramov
A 5-foot-9, 175-pound right winger, Abramov starred for Gatineau. He had 93 points in 63 games last season. His speed and 38 goals were impressive. He could be a second-round steal.

-CSNPhilly.com's Tom Dougherty contributed to this report.

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