Draft Remains Important to Flyers Build
One year ago, the Flyers were among the luckiest teams at the draft lottery, jumping up 11 spots from 13th to second overall in the NHL Draft.
It set the Flyers up to get a game-changing player.
This year, as the draft lottery came and went, the Flyers were on the receiving end again. This time, it had nothing to do with a big move via the lottery. The St. Louis Blues did not move up in the draft lottery, meaning their 2018 first-round pick belongs to the Flyers officially. The Flyers will select at 14th and 19th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft.
While this is an offseason where the Flyers will have some cap flexibility and be able to push forward in their building process, much of what is already part of the roster has been built through the draft. That will not change this season either, now that the Flyers have two picks and the potential to strike big again at the 2018 Draft.
Should the Flyers choose to retain both picks in the first round, it will be the third time in four years the Flyers have had two picks in the first round of the draft. So far, the Flyers appear to have struck big in recent years.
Since Ron Hextall took over as GM, the Flyers have drafted extremely well. His first draft in 2014 saw the Flyers acquire Travis Sanheim and Oskar Lindblom. In 2015, Hextall selected Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny in the first round. Nolan Patrick was the big pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. The other two first round picks of the previous four years -- Morgan Frost in 2017 and German Rubtsov in 2016 -- just advanced to the CHL Finals and are really just starting to scratch the surface on their own potential.
The draft has been a fruitous bounty for many teams in recent years and the Flyers have certainly capitalized on that. With two more picks, the Flyers have several options to capitalize again.
Obviously, with so many prospects in the system, the Flyers do have the luxury to try to turn the two picks into a high-profile, top-10 target. Hextall will almost certainly explore a trade to potentially move up, but there is really no pressure if the Flyers simply retain the two picks and add two prospects.
At the same time, Hextall could also be looking to make a splash with the current roster and use one or both picks to work out a deal.
It’s a win-win for the Orange and Black.
While it’s difficult to see Hextall making a trade centered around draft picks -- something he has been adamantly against doing since he became GM -- the Flyers are at a crossroads in the building process where they need to take a step forward. This could be a spot where the GM sees a need to make a move or at least attempt to find a trading partner.
With the way Hextall has drafted and the Flyers have scouted over the years, there should be no worry if the Flyers do nothing more than utilize the picks. Perception is that this year’s draft is deeper than the previous year’s.
It’s a year where the draft may not be as much of an event for the Flyers, given their need to start building out the current roster. But in doing so, whether with the acquisition of veteran players or the addition of prospects to the NHL fold, the Flyers will need to keep the farm system well stocked as well.
With two picks and a wealth of solid prospects to choose from, Hextall will have the chance to also build on the Flyers already wealthy prospect pool.
Kevin Durso is Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.