The Flyers added a Swedish defenseman who is already playing pro hockey with their 2nd pick.
Emil Andrade is an 18-year-old currently playing for HV71 in the SHL, the top Swedish professional hockey league. The Flyers drafted him in the 2nd round with the 54th overall pick. He graduated after a really fantastic season in the SuperElit league, where he managed to score 11 goals and add 27 assists for 38 points in just 40 games. Against the men this year at just 18 he’s put up an assist in 10 games.
He’s also got international experience playing in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and showing out at the World Juniors U18 tournament for Sweden, with a goal and 11 assists over the 13 games of the tournament.
What he doesn’t have is height, which is why this a player like Andrae falls into the 2nd round. At just 5’9″ Andrae is undersized for a forward, let alone a defenseman. Even with the height restrictions of the old guard loosening in the modern game, Andrae is still small. Being around 185 pounds helps, as does Andrae’s willingness to play a more physical style than you’d expect from a player around his size.
He’s known for pushing the play offensively and has very good edges and evasiveness on the blueline. His offense has been the highlight of his game so far, but he’s never really faced much criticism for his defensive play. That he plays a physical game likely propelled him into the 2nd round. The rub is will his Swedish success translate into the North American game and ice surface. He’s had success at the junior level and was deemed good enough to play with men, but for his size, his skating has graded out as just average. He’s gotten by on his aggressiveness and vision. With less room to move and a more physical style of play does Andrae’s game and body have the mettle to stand up?
The answer to this question likely won’t come for a few years still. He’s been compared to former Flyers stalwart Kimmo Timonen and another undersized Fletcher drafted defenseman in Jared Spurgeon. If Andrae evolves into that it will be a pleasant surprise and the pick will be praised for years to come. While there are great changes in the game today, a 5’9″ defenseman will always have an uphill battle to become an NHL regular.
We’ll keep looking at the Flyers Day 2 draft picks as the days go on. If you missed our preview of their 1st round pick Tyson Foerster be sure to check that out.