The chances were comically slim.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall probably had better odds of being asked to vacate his seat on the flight home from Finland than what really happened. He was overseas at Ilkka Sinisalo’s life celebration — the ex-Flyer recently passed after a battle with cancer — and the team didn’t send president Paul Holmgren to Toronto for the NHL draft lottery either.

Why bother?

Well, amateur scout Dennis Patterson was there to see it first: the 2.4 percent chance that the Flyers jumped up from 13 to No. 2 actually happened. Hextall, who had just gotten home from the airport, saw it on TV.

“You know what, I feel like we had a lot of bad luck this year and I’m hoping this is a turning point for some of that to be turned around,” Hextall said on a conference call with reporters. “This is a big point for our franchise. We’re obviously going to get a very good player and hopefully in years we’ll look back and see this as a huge turning point for us.”

All three teams — New Jersey will go first and Dallas third — moved up in the lottery. The Flyers have selected second overall only once in franchise history, when they took James van Riemsdyk in 2007.

2017 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game
Nico Hischier is one of the top two players in the NHL Draft. (Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images)

This year’s draft has two clear-cut players at the top and a lot of question marks beneath them. Centers Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier were ranked one and two respectively by the NHL’s central scouting service.

The Flyers will likely end up choosing whichever player Devils GM Ray Shero does not…right?

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