The Philadelphia Flyers organization and its fan base has spent much of the last decade focused on prospects. Ron Hextall took the team into its first real rebuild in franchise history and was quickly established as a great drafter. But with his picks now having plenty of time to marinate, there are few names that have truly emerged as stars. His strategy of trying to find the diamond in the rough in the first round followed by taking minimal risks later in the draft by selecting safe, two-way players hasn’t paid off well.
Chuck Fletcher has been at the helm of three drafts for the Flyers so far and his crop of draft picks have taken on a much different identity than his predecessor. More often than not, Hextall seemed to go quantity over quality, which has been the opposite of Fletcher’s approach.
The wheeling and dealing to secure the players the organization wants has been Fletcher’s speciality. Cam York, Bobby Brink, Zayde Wisdom and Elliot Desnoyers have all been players Fletcher has made trades to acquire.
Fletcher’s approach for the players he drafts seems simple enough- find players with plenty of raw skill and let them develop. Crazy, right? Not every gamble will pay off, but taking a bigger risk now and again has the potential to net a bigger win at the end of the day.
Tyson Foerster and Samu Tuomaala are perfect examples of this. Young, speedy goal scorers whose overall game isn’t quite polished to perfection yet. The kind of guys who can rack up points in their respective junior leagues but have enough talent to build a future beyond their teenage years. The hockey IQ paired with their overall talent paints a promising picture when the eventually make the jump to the NHL.
Zayde Wisdom seems like a more refined version of players Hextall was looking for. Good character, hard working talent, but has far more on-ice potential than the likes of Connor Bunnaman, Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev among others.
Drafting in the NHL is always a crapshoot. What seems like a promising year can eventually turn into nothing. It’s a lesson the Flyers have learned the hard way from the Hextall era. But there are ways to be proactive with an approach. For Fletcher, his years in Minnesota were lackluster to say the least when it came to his ability to find talent in the later rounds of the draft. Whatever he changed up when he arrived in Philly has worked. Trusting his scouts and not being afraid to make a trade or two to land a player his crew is high on is seemingly paying off in spades. We’re still years away from reaping what he has sewn, but so far Chuck Fletcher seems to be a perfectly fine farmer.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: si.com / hockeydb.com