It was revealed at the NHL Draft Lottery over the weekend that the Philadelphia Flyers will be picking 14th (via St. Louis Blues) in June. In addition, the Flyers will also be picking 19th with their own draft choice. Having two draft picks inside the top 20 of the first round is uncharted waters for most teams. Aside from Philadelphia, the New York Islanders are the only other team to have two draft choices inside the top 20.
In a draft that is supposed to be fairly deep (unlike last year’s), the Flyers are set up nicely. The last time they had two first-round picks, they drafted Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny (2015). Both players have had a significant impact and general manager, Ron Hextall, will hope for the same from the picks from this year’s draft.
Having two picks gives Hextall options, all of which would help the team in the future.
Hang onto the Picks
If Hextall chooses to hang onto both draft choices, the Flyers will get two solid prospects to add to an incredible crop of young talent in their pipeline already. Players like Isaac Ratcliffe, Morgan Frost, Matthew Strome and Carter Hart all had great years in the CHL, and Ratcliffe and Hart will turn pro next year (Ratcliffe finished the year in the AHL).
Defensemen Sam Morin and Pilippe Myers and forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel all have the potential to crack the Flyers’ main roster next year, which would open up spots for the aforementioned junior players to crack the AHL roster (as opposed to the ECHL). With so many of the young prospects getting older, and inching closer and closer to NHL jobs, restocking the cupboard would be wise for Hextall.
The Flyers Could Opt to Move Up in the Draft
Using the two draft choices to move up inside the top ten could be what Hextall looks to do. With the Flyers looking to become more of a contender heading into next season, landing a pick inside the top 10 would allow them to draft a more NHL-ready player. Typically, first round picks outside of the top ten do not crack the NHL roster in their first couple of years; more seasoning is required.
The Flyers struggled with depth scoring all season long, so drafting a player who could make an immediate impact up front may be in the cards. Names like Brady Tkachuk and Filip Zadina stand out as forwards who would fit the profile of what the Flyers are looking for. Tkachuk and Zadina (who play for Boston University and the Halifax Mooseheads, respectively) are both natural left wings, a position at which the Flyers are thin.
Trade the 2018 Draft Picks
This seems like the least likely of options. As mentioned before, the Flyers are loaded with high-end prospects. They have several players (Morin and Frost are early favorites) who have the chance to make the team next year and who figure to be in the team’s long-term plans. Additionally, young stars Provorov, Konecny, Shayne Gostisbehere and Nolan Patrick will all be on the club for years to come.
Considering this, it is reasonable to assume that Hextall may look for a veteran NHL player to add to a roster that is littered with young talent. But not add just anyone; add a high-end, impact player. Adding a player that could catapult the Flyers into the elite class of NHL teams is attractive and dangling two first-round picks inside the top 20 of a strong draft class is especially appealing to rebuilding clubs who might be willing trade partners.
Related: NHL Draft Guide | 2018 Edition
One team that is in the process of unloading high-end players is the Ottawa Senators. The Senators were close to dealing star players at the deadline and could be tempted by the Flyers’ picks. The Flyers’ best option may be to play it safe and continue to build through the draft, but you have to ask: can you imagine the Flyers with Erik Karlsson?