The Philadelphia Flyers hold the 2nd overall selection and 11 total picks (possibly 12 – conditional pick) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Seeing as we’re less than 2 weeks away from Draft Day, let’s take a look at the Flyers success at the draft table over the years.
The Ron Hextall era Philadelphia Flyers are a much different iteration than past teams. Instead of trading away picks for experienced hands Hextall has been acquiring and hording picks. If the team stands pat the Flyers will select 11 more young men this year for a total of 30 picks in the last 3 years! It’s a philosophy that Ron brought with him from working with the Los Angeles Kings.
The Kings have arguably been the best team on Draft day over the past 10 years. I say arguably because the Ottawa Senators have had slightly better average results from worse picks, and the Blues have been the best in the 1st round. Each can make a case, but the Kings have 2 Stanley Cup Championships in that period.. which is tough to argue against. The “build from within” mentality was a strong part of those Championship runs in LA.
Flyers Draft Picks Average NHL Games Played vs. LA, VAN, NHL Average
The above graph is an average of NHL games played by players picked in each round . Not necessarily played for the team that picked them, but played in the NHL in general. It’s more of an exercise in seeing which Scouting Staffs have picked the best players over the last 10 drafts (06-15). It’s very evident that there’s a huge drop-off in talent between round 1 and round 2, while there’s a more gradual decent after that into the later rounds of the draft.
The Literal Kings of the Draft
Los Angeles has consistently outperformed the NHL Average in rounds 1 to 4 while falling back to the mean in later rounds. Their average 1st round selection was 11th out of 30 teams, and those 1st rounders have played the 4th most average games in the league. In fact the only team to pick higher than the Kings and have more games per prospect is the Oilers who of course have the highest average pick.. but let’s not beat that dead horse.
- There’s only been 1 real flop among their 1st rounders, defenseman Colton Teubert, who’s now playing in the German league. Other 1sts; Doughty, Lewis, Schenn, Hickey, Bernier, Pearson, Forbort, and Kempe are NHL regulars, or are on their way to becoming regulars (this time-frame excludes Anze Kopitar who was a 2005 1st round pick).
- They’ve had a string of good 2nd rounders; Toffoli, Clifford, Voynov, Oscar Moller, and someone Flyers fans should be familiar with, Wayne Simmonds.
- Their 3rd/4th rounders have dressed for twice the NHL average; Jeff Zatkoff, Alec Martinez, Dwight King, Andrew Campbell, Nic Deslauriers, J.F. Berube, Linden Vey, Jordan Weal, Andy Andreoff, Nick Shore, Michael Mersch, and Hudson Fasching.
- Sliding back to the NHL Average in the late rounds isn’t a big deal. They’ve still snagged a couple guys like Jordan Nolan, and Andrei Loktionov that brought them to the mean.
What’s Wrong In Vancouver?
After looking at the best, it seems fitting to look at the worst. The Canucks have done very poorly, and there are a few reasons why. Working against them drafting talent was the success of the Sedin twins, and management’s “win-now-or-die” attitude. Well they didn’t win the big one, and now they’re dying.
It should be noted that they traded a lot of picks. In 2010 in particular their first pick was in the 4th round at 115th! They also had the 4th lowest average 1st round pick in the league. If you pool these circumstances together with below average scouting (or maybe development?) you get the perfect storm of bad prospects and almost no pipeline.
- There are a few young 1st rounders that will have NHL careers; Virtanen, Shinkaruk, Horvat, McCann, and Boeser should all be NHLers (to some degree). But the older these picks get the more questions people have had about their careers. Niclas Jensen, Jordan Schroeder and Brendan Gaunce are AHL/NHL go-betweens, Cody Hodgson never fully materialized, and Michal Grabner looked like his career would fade to nothingness until a recent resurgence. Then there’s an outright miss, Patrick White..
- In the 2nd round the situation is even more desperate; the exception being recent pick Thatcher Demko. Taylor Ellington, Yann Sauve, and Alexandre Mallet never made it. If Anton Rodin can become a regular that would certainly help, but it took him a long time to get here.. 7 years.
- 3rd/4th rounders; Nikita Tryamkin and Kevin Connauton are the only 2 to make any difference. Joe Labate and Alex Grenier are the only others to play an NHL game.
- round 5-7; Frank Corrado, Ben Hutton, and Gustav Forsling.. Hutton looks like he could have a promising career.
How About The Flyers Results?
As you may have guessed from the initial graph the Flyers are somewhere in the middle. Their average 1st round pick was 14th in the league, but the average games played by those picks ranks 8th. So their 1st rounders are outperforming a number of other teams. Sadly, that’s where it ends.. if we combined all the Flyers picks and treat them as a whole they rank 21st in the league in average games played.
Just like LA, Philly haven’t really missed in the 1st round; Giroux, Van Riemsdyk, Sbisa, Couturier, Laughton, Konecny, and Provorov are all NHLers. Among this group are a couple of players who were disappointments in terms of top-end skill, but they’re all at least worthy of an NHL shift.
Travis Sanheim, and Sam Morin are knocking at the door with the Flyers affiliate in Lehigh Valley. Either could easily make the team out of training camp this September and continue the Flyers good reputation of drafting the in 1st round. Let’s not forget last year’s 1st rounder German Rubtsov who’s been impressive, and this year’s upcoming 2nd Overall pick (Patrick or Hischier).
Clearly the Flyers scouting staff has done a great job at finding top-end talent.
The wheels fall off in the 2nd. Only Andreas Nodl fashioned himself an NHL career of any kind. Forgotten disappointments like Kevin Marshall, Mike Ratchuk and Denis Bodrov bring the Flyers way down the list. Philadelphia have the 5th worst results drafting in the 2nd round.
Sprinkled among the mistakes are a few promising youngsters like Nic Aube-Kubel, Anthony Stolarz, and Robert Hagg. Hextall went all in on 2nd rounders last year picking Pascal Laberge, Carter Hart, and Wade Allison. With this group moving forward the poor record in the 2nd is bound to change.
A couple 3rd/4th round Picks are paying dividends for the Flyers right now, but as a whole they’ve been in the bottom 1/3 of the league at getting value out of mid-round picks. Shayne Gostisbehere and Nick Cousins are regulars right now, and both could be staples for years to come. Michael Chaput is the only other pick to make an NHL impact. The rest have been misses with the odd Tye McGinn, or Marc-Andre Bourdon almost making it.
There are a few long term projects in the current pipeline like goalies Felix Sandstrom, and Matej Tomek, defenseman Mark Friedman, and grinders Leier and Goulbourne with the Phantoms. There’s also World Juniors stand-out Mikhail Vorobyov to be excited about.
12 days from now Philadelphia hold 2 picks in round 3 and 3 picks in round 4, so a change for the better in terms of average games played is likely just around the corner.
Rounds 5 – 7
In terms of “warm bodies” the Flyers picked a few; the infamous Zac Rinaldo, and Pat “I Play With Connor McDavid” Maroon. That’s not entirely fair to Maroon, but safe to say McDavid is making him look way better than he actually is. Between them they’ve made up almost 600 NHL games. Of the other 28 picks in these rounds only Eric Wellwood, Jon Kalinski, and Oliver Lauridsen ended up playing more than 5 NHL games. Wellwood of course had a somewhat promising start to his career, but due to a freak skate/Achilles tendon injury was forced into retirement.
When you look at that group of guys it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. The funny thing is that’s almost exactly the NHL average for late round picks! Managing to pick a couple NHL regulars in 10 years of 5th, 6th and 7th round picks is decent.
In terms of grabbing late round steals though, the Flyers haven’t had any results to show. That may change in the coming years with fresh ink on a contract for 5th rounder Oscar Lindblom who dominated the Swedish league as a 20 year old this year. 2 other late round Swedish choices, teenage defensemen Linus Hogberg and David Bernhardt, also played professionally last season. We may be looking at a late round Swedish renaissance.