Flyers focus on offense on second day of draft

Posted: June 26, 2011

Despite playing the recently completed season with three aging defensemen - Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, and Sean O'Donnell - the Flyers continued to emphasize offense Saturday during the second and final day of the NHL draft in St. Paul, Minn.

In the two days, the Flyers drafted six players - five forwards and one defenseman.

After taking highly touted center Sean Couturier on the first day, the Flyers chose center Nick Cousins (third round, 68th overall); defenseman Colin Suellentrop (fourth round, 116th overall); left winger Marcel Noebels (fourth round, 118th overall); right winger Petr Placek (sixth round, 176th overall); and right winger Derek Mathers (seventh round, 206th overall) on Saturday.

General manager Paul Holmgren acknowledged it would have been nice to have drafted more defensemen, but he said that the team opted to take the best players available - and that, in his staff's opinion, they happened to be forwards.

Cousins, who will turn 18 next month, is a small, scrappy center who accumulated 68 points for Sault Ste. Marie in the OHL last season. The 5-foot-10, 166-pounder was drafted with one of the two picks the Flyers acquired from Columbus - Couturier was the other - in the Jeff Carter deal.

Holmgren made Cousins sound like a young Ken Linseman, a former Flyer known as an agitator.

"He's an energy player with good skills," the GM said. "He's one of those guys who get under the skin of teams a bit."

Suellentrop, 18, is a physical 6-1, 190-pound stay-at-home defenseman who also played in the OHL (Oshawa) last season.

Noebels, 19, a Germany native, is a sturdy 6-2, 195-pounder who had 54 points in 66 games with Seattle's WHL team last season.

The Flyers added more size by selecting the 6-4, 210-pound Placek. The 18-year-old had 13 points for the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut last season and will play this fall at Harvard.

The Flyers finished the draft by choosing the bruising 6-3, 226-pound Mathers. The 17-year-old had 171 penalty minutes and five points in 55 games for Peterborough of the OHL. Sounds like a future Jody Shelley.

"We got bigger, and I think we added skill and competitiveness," Holmgren said.

Now he will turn his attention to his restricted free agents - Wayne Simmonds, Jacub Voracek, Darroll Powe, Andreas Nodl, and Dan Carcillo. Holmgren will try to re-sign winger Ville Leino, who can become an unrestricted free agent on Friday, and decide whether to re-sign O'Donnell.

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