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Taking a closer look at Jett Luchanko and why he makes sense for the Flyers

Flyers' Jett Luchanko (Philadelphia Flyers/X)
(Philadelphia Flyers/X)

The Philadelphia Flyers turned plenty of heads on Friday night during the first round of the 2024 NHL Draft.

With a first round chock full of talent, the Flyers had the likes of Zeev Buium, Cole Eiserman, Konsta Helenius, Michael Brandsegg-Nygård, and others at their choosing at 12.

The Flyers made a deal with the Minnesota Wild and traded back to the 13th pick while Minnesota selected the defenseman Buium – a consensus top-10 pick. Philadelphia gained a 2025 third-round pick from the Wild as a reward for moving back one pick.

And with the 13th pick, the Flyers went off the board and selected Jett Luchanko.

With the other talent left on the board that could’ve been chosen, you can understand why plenty of Flyers fans were left scratching their heads at this seemingly out of the box pick. Luchanko at his highest was seen as a pick to be made in the late teens, while other draft rankings had him as a high second-round pick.

But let’s take a closer look at Luchanko.

Jett Luchanko is a 17-year-old center who spent the 2023-24 campaign with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League. With a team-leading 74 points (20g, 54a) in 68 games, Luchanko had a very productive season but still has a lot of room to grow.

Standing in at 5’11” and 187 pounds, Luchanko doesn’t have a ton of size, but his main asset is his speed. He has a quick first step and can get from point A to point B in a flash. That speed can help him get past defenders with ease and once he’s all alone, he has a tremendous pair of hands that will embarrass almost any goaltender.

Luchanko isn’t necessarily a “fancy” player, but his puck-handling ability is absolutely incredible to watch.

Luchanko also has a fantastic ability to read plays and break up opponents’ opportunities. He can then go to the other end and setting up his teammates for high-quality scoring chances.

His playmaking is another facet of his game that really stands out. Luchanko is a crisp passer who can spot his teammates in the perfect place at the perfect time, and he had the opportunity to showcase that at the IIHF Men’s U18 World Championship earlier in the spring.

Luchanko can be a factor on both the power play and penalty kill with the way he plays. His footwork and speed can put him in position to set up plays and open the ice up to shoot, but he is an aggressive player for his size and isn’t afraid to hound after pucks either.

There’s no doubt that he will take some time to develop. Luchanko possesses a lot of raw talent, but he won’t turn 18 until August and he’s going to need another couple seasons in Guelph to get NHL-ready.

The pick still makes sense, however. Luchanko represents a dire position of need for the Flyers. It’s not a secret that they’re thin at center throughout their pipeline and even in the NHL. General manager Daniel Brière mentioned as much during his press conference last week.

“If we have a hard time deciding between two players, and one’s a wing, one’s a center, we might lean into a center because let’s face it, we’re lacking centers coming up throughout the organization. We haven’t tried to hide that, it’s a reality.”

Brière was confident in Luchanko’s ability to become a long-term NHL center during his media availability after the first round concluded as well.

“He’s a center. The way he plays, the way he works, the way he’s a complete player, first of all. Very young still. Played on an OHL team, and what he did and how he got better and better as the season went on, we feel that yes he’s a center, absolutely, and we feel he’s just starting to tap his potential.”

2023 third-round pick Denver Barkey was the only real center prospect they had until drafting Luchanko, and having those two up the middle in the future with a budding offensive core that contains Matvei Michkov, Tyson Foerster, Owen Tippett, Joel Farabee, and Morgan Frost alongside veterans such as Sean Couturier and Travis Konecnypending an extension – is an exhilarating thought.

Sure, there was other talent on the board that may end up being better. But the Flyers still selected a very solid player with plenty of upside on both ends of the ice. When Luchanko reaches the NHL, he could easily step in as a speedy center on a line alongside Michkov, Foerster, or Tippett and become a lethal playmaker with an incredibly high hockey IQ.

Managing Editor at Flyers Nation. Proud lifelong supporter of the Philadelphia Flyers and all things hockey related. Steve Mason's #1 fan.

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