Flyers Assistant GM Chris Pryor Talks Building Through Draft, Draft Approach
In less than two weeks, the Flyers will utilize nine more draft picks in continuing to build the prospect pool. Those decisions will ultimately come down to GM Ron Hextall, who has helped the Flyers stock up on draft picks over the years and has the Flyers farm system well-stocked with prospects carrying high potential.
Assistant GM Chris Pryor, who was previously the team’s director of scouting, certainly has an understanding of the importance of the NHL Draft and its role in Hextall’s plan for building a championship-caliber team. With the draft quickly approaching, Pryor discussed the team’s approach to the draft and the scenarios that come on the night of the first round.
“We’re probably no different than most teams now. You’re built through the draft,” Pryor said in an interview on the Flyers official website. “Since Ron’s come in, I think you’ve seen him accumulate draft picks, which accumulates prospects, which in turn you’re starting to see the fruits of labor over the last few years with some of our kids coming in. With the lay of the land it is now, I think it’s of vital importance.”
The big question that typically goes around at this time is what the Flyers approach will be on the night of the first round. Is there a specific position they are targeting, or are the Flyers going to take the best player, no matter which position he plays?
“We stick to the theory that we’re going to take the best player available at that time,” Pryor said. “A lot of it depends on where you’re at with your first few picks, I think you try to take the best player available.”
This year’s draft is regarding as a fruitful one, especially on the defensive end. The Flyers have stocked up on defensemen in recent years, seeing several emerge at the NHL level in the last three seasons, but there is really no wrong way to turn with so many good prospects available and two first-round picks at their disposal.
Having two first-round picks can bring more scenarios into play. The Flyers could look to package the two picks into one pick in the Top 10 to take a potentially better player on their board. The Flyers could also stick with both picks and select players at different positions to try to further build the prospect pool. They could even look to trade down and turn that into more picks throughout the remainder of the weekend.
With so many scenarios in play, preparation is key.
“We try to go through all the scenarios as much as we can and Ron tries to prepare the staff in case certain scenarios come up,” Pryor said. “That’s the purpose of having your scouting meetings. If this comes up, would we be willing to move up, willing to move back. If you move back, who are we looking at? If you move up, who are we targeting? So you go through all of those different types of situations that could arise at particular points and hopefully you covered all those bases and had those conversations so if the phone does ring, we went through the exercise already.”
The draft has been one of Hextall’s strong points in recent years. In addition to players like Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Nolan Patrick, Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Sanheim and Oskar Lindblom all breaking through to the NHL recently, Hextall also drafted players like Morgan Frost and Carter Hart, who are also generating a great amount of buzz from fans and analysts.
It’s important to note that players like Frost and Konecny were the result of draft day scenarios that Pryor referred to, making a move to get a player the Flyers really like on their draft board.
“You can never prepare enough,” Pryor said, “but from a preparation standpoint we’ve tried to do the best we can leading up to that point so that we don’t get caught off-guard and I think we’ve done our due diligence here. We feel comfortable going that we’ve covered a lot of those bases.”
The NHL Draft begins on Friday, June 22, with the first round and is completed with Rounds 2-7 on Saturday, June 23.
Kevin Durso is Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.