14. Philadelphia Flyers (from St. Louis) – Jesperi Kotkaniemi
Kotkaniemi quietly raised his draft stock throughout the season. Now some say that he might be the best center in the draft. Obviously, this mock has three centers going before him but that’s just based on preference. With the center crop not being as deep as it has been in recent years, it will all come down to which one a team likes if they want to pick a center.
With all the craziness that has been going on with the NHL Combine, there are teams that have expressed a lot interest in him. Montreal, Detroit and Chicago all took him out for a steak dinner, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go earlier. However, the Flyers are the benefactor of him falling here.
Kotkaniemi played 57 games for Assat Pori last season, scoring 10 goals and 29 points. He had three goals and nine points in nine games with Finland at the Under-18 World Championships and even set up the gold medal-winning goal. It will be interesting to see if he can improve his offensive output in his second season in Finland’s top league. He should also play for Finland again in the Under-20 World Junior Championship this holiday season.
Kotkaniemi would only add to the young core that the Flyers are building. If they add a center like him, they could potentially have a top-three of Nolan Patrick, Morgan Frost and Kotkaniemi. That trio, is pretty scary and that’s without even bringing up Claude Giroux.