Future of Flyers First-Round Pick Still Uncertain Entering Draft
For the better part of the last decade, the NHL Draft has been a time of intrigue for the Flyers, especially when it came to building their future. Truth be told, they have several first-round picks from over the years that currently sit on the roster, from selections like Joel Farabee in 2018 and Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny in 2015 to potential players of the future like 2019 first-rounder Cam York.
The 2021 NHL Draft is set to take place on Friday night and continue into Saturday with Rounds 2 through 7. But this draft has a different feel for GM Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers. For the better part of two weeks now, Fletcher has made it public knowledge that while the Flyers will happy make their selection with the 13th pick in the draft, they are not afraid to move the pick in the right deal.
Fletcher once again shared that sentiment on Thursday afternoon following his most recent offseason move, sending Shayne Gostisbehere to Arizona with two 2022 draft picks to open up $4.5 million in cap space.
“Well, I was pretty adamant I wasn't going to use it to dump salary. I did make that decision. We're certainly ready to draft at 13,” Fletcher said. “I would say that I'm very open-minded to using it if we can add a player that can help us. I'm probably more active in listening on 13 this year than I would have been in previous years. In fairness last year, we really didn't have any cap space, so it didn't really make a lot of sense. This year, we have a little more flexibility. If something makes sense via trade, we'll certainly look at it and potentially do it.
“We're happy to pick at 13 too. We're open-minded and that's really what the last little while has been all about. Certainly, a lot of calls today and I'm sure there'll be a lot more going into tomorrow afternoon.”
In other words, it’s far from a certainty that the Flyers are keeping this pick.
This could very well come right down to the wire. The Flyers could be on the clock and get the offer that forces their hand and sends the pick elsewhere while improving their team in the process. The here and now is clearly very important to Fletcher and utilizing the first-round pick in this way would certainly have implications on the team this upcoming season.
Fletcher has stated several times leading up to the draft that the unique nature of this year’s NHL Draft makes him more willing to dangle the pick as a potential trade chip. Many prospects available saw very limited ice time, several not even playing this season at all due to CHL stoppages in the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a lot of unpredictability on draft boards around the league. A player taken in the first round could be viewed as a potential fourth-round selection on another team’s board. There is potential for mid-to-late round finds because of the lack of viewings from scouts.
It makes it all the more important for the Flyers to be prepared for anything that comes their way. If it becomes worth it to make a deal and include the first-round pick, you have to do it in an effort to improve your team. If not, there’s nothing wrong with keeping the pick and making another addition for your future.
It’s sure to be a wild weekend with teams looking to do anything they can to improve in the midst of a flat-cap world. There could be some crazy trades happening, and the Flyers may very well be involved.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.