Over the next few days, Josh will be directing attention away from the Flyers, who are a bit painful to watch, by looking at potential draft targets for the Flyers this season.
5. Nikita Popugaev – RW/LW, WHL
It isn’t often that a best player available pick might also fit an organizational need, but a stocky Russian might just fit that mold. At 6’6, 197 lbs, 18-year-old Nikita Popugaev saw a huge rise in points between his freshman (70gp/16-31, 47) and Sophmore (40gp/22-29, 51) seasons for the Moose Jaw Warriors. He’s off to a decent start with his new club, the Prince George Cougars, and hopes to see another big spike in points per game.
Despite his mammoth size for an 18 year old, he has wicked hands and a laser of a wrist shot. He’s not a guy who’s going to blow people away with speed, although he did win the fastest skater competition in a KHL draft showing, and also hasn’t shown to be physical, but he is good along the boards and creates space for teammates. Nikita has drawn comparisons to Rick Nash and some have compared the young Russian to Evgeni Malkin, but a safer comparison would be another 6’6 winger; Kazakhstani Nik Antropov.
He is expected to fall somewhere between 16-24 in the draft, exactly where you can expect the Flyers to be picking.