With this season coming to a close, and the Philadelphia Flyers most likely missing out on post season play, I figured this would be a great time to start looking forward to the draft this off season. The draft will be held in Vancouver, BC and the Flyers will be picking in the middle of the pack.
Earlier this season, there was “Lose for Hughes” which wasn’t far from being an unlikely chance, with the Flyers being dead last in the NHL in what was supposed to be a year they made a push. The Flyers have never had the number 1 overall pick, the the highest they have picked is number 2, most recently Nolan Patrick after moving up 11 spots in the draft.
After going on a recent surge, the Flyer made a push for the playoffs, but ultimately will miss it after being unable to come up big when it mattered the most. While at this time they have not officially been eliminated, they have unofficially be eliminated from the playoffs.
So lets look ahead to the off season. The Flyers have plenty of picks and prospects. They have all their draft pics for the upcoming draft, plus an additional 3, with New Jersey’s (3), Arizona’s (6), and Montreal’s (7). Plenty of cap room, $32,657,501 before re-signing anyone to be exact according to CapFriendly.com.
When Ron Hextall was General Manager, it was pretty obvious what they would do during the draft. Hoard all the draft picks and never trade them away at all. With Chuck Fletcher coming into his first off season as GM, its up in the air on what he will do depending on the market and on other factors.
But for now, we’re going to focus on the draft. What do the Flyers do? What should the Flyers do? We’ll explain.
If the Flyers were picking in the top 5, you keep the pick. But with the Flyers picking in the middle and already with a plethora of prospects that will most likely make the NHL at some point, the answer for me is easy.
Trade it. Trade it with a prospect. Trade it with a roster player. Unless a player is taken in the top 2 spots, the likelihood of them making the team immediately is slim to none. Most likely they will need to finish their time out in the CHL and then a year in the AHL if they aren’t already AHL eligible. So with that, I want a roster player now. Not a prospect, I want someone who can come in and make a difference now.
Sure, Artemi Panarin will be a FA this off season along with others, but if you can add in another player, say like a veteran Top 4 defense to help shore up the defense who still has some time on his contract, not just 1 or 2 years, but 3 or more, absolutely make a trade. Then you can still offer Panarin money in the off season to and hope he will sway towards Philly.
Also, landing a vet defenseman, plus Panarin, in addition to the already skilled roster we have, some coaches *ahem, Quenneville*, may push the Flyers more to the top of their list of places they would like to coach.
There have also been talks of possibly going after another teams high valued RFA, something that almost seems forbidden by the NHL GM’s since its rarely ever done. Some teams, such as the Leafs and Lightning will not be able to afford to sign all their RFA’s, so it is a possibility that Fletcher will use that to his advantage.. Will he? Probably not. Offer-sheeting another teams high valued RFA is pretty much career suicide.
So, ultimately, just trade the damn pick or offer sheet someone.
Some mock drafts out there have the Flyers picking Philip Broberg, a two-way defenseman. The Flyers have plenty of defensemen prospects and young defensemen in general, that I don’t think it would be in their absolute best interest to snag a d-man.
If I were the Flyers, I would try and get Alex Newhook, a sharp center man who is confident with the puck. Or I would try and get Arthur Kaliyev, a fast right winger who can make great plays. He isn’t afraid to get to the front of the net and knows how to shoot.
I want to see the Flyers package some combination of their 1st round pick, maybe a 3rd or 4th round pick, and maybe a good prospect or NHL caliber player to trade for a 2C or veteran defenseman. The free agent markets for these positions (outside of Duchene and Karlsson) don’t look great so they’ll probably need a trade to bring in good players to fill these holes without seriously overpaying. The Flyers need to compete next year and holding out on draft picks only sets their window to compete back another 2-3 years, and wastes more of Giroux’s and Voracek’s prime years.
By Mike Bailey (@mbailey010), Julia Kender (@JK_Kender), And Brian Adams (@Wx_Adams)
Photo Cred: NHL