At the 2015 NHL Draft, the Maple Leafs are scheduled to select fourth overall and the Flyers seventh overall. Trades involving picks in the top 10 aren’t overly common, but have happened a few times over the past couple of years. The Flyers haven’t traded up within the top 10 since 2002, since they packaged Ruslan Fedotenko and two 2nd round picks to select Joni Pitkanen.
However, there is reason to believe that this could be the year for the Flyers’ to make some noise early on in the first round. Ron Hextall has armed the Flyers with six picks in the top 100 of this year’s draft, something they haven’t had since 2003 (the same year they selected Mike Richards and Jeff Carter).
The team’s two biggest needs are another dynamic scoring talent to play behind the tandem of Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek and a franchise defenseman. If the Flyers move up to #4, they would be in a prime position to acquire either one of those.
Leafs Say #4 is Available
The Maple Leafs have made it very public that they are willing to deal the #4 overall pick. Leafs’ Assistant GM Kyle Dubas offered the following a few days ago:
“It’s something we would definitely look at,” Dubas told Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star. “If someone else was adamant about a player, we’re pretty comfortable with the players in that cluster.
“We need to be acquiring as many draft pick assets as we can, as many prospects as we can. If there was something that made sense, we’d be open to listening and having some thorough discussions on the fourth pick.”
If the Flyers offer the right package, the pick could be theirs. According to the NHL Draft Pick Value Chart (which assigns a point value to each pick), the #4 pick has a value of 53.4. If the Flyers packaged their #7 overall pick (point value of 43.1) with Tampa Bay’s 1st round pick this year (29th or 30th), they would be giving up a total value of 57.3 points. To balance things out, the Leafs could throw in a 3rd or 4th to get the deal done.
Since the Flyers would still retain four more picks in the top 100 after that, they can afford to sacrifice some assets and still acquire numerous quality prospects with their other picks.
Who Would Philadelphia Target?
Ron Hextall has stated that if the team has a defenseman and a forward really close together on their board for their top pick, they would likely lean towards the forward. Considering the plethora of defensive prospects added over the past few years, it’s no surprise that Hextall is looking to now address the organization’s biggest weakness in terms of depth.
Behind Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, I believe there is a clear tier of three players before a dropoff to the next tier. In that tier are defenseman Noah Hanifin, and forwards Mitch Marner and Dylan Strome. After them, good luck getting a consensus on who the BPA is. You could argue at least six players.
To get an in-depth scouting report on each player, click on their profile below:
Any of Hanifin, Marner or Strome would be a tremendous addition that fills a big hole for the team. Hanifin could be the #1 defenseman the team has missed since Chris Pronger, Strome would form a tremendous 1-2 punch at center with Claude Giroux, and Mitch Marner is capable of playing both center and wing.
Strome and Marner finished 1-2 in scoring in the OHL this year with 129 and 126 points, respectively. Strome is a classic big, playmaking center whereas Marner is on the smaller side but has dynamic hands, speed, and evasiveness.
One of the above players will go #3 overall, so it will be a tossup between two of the above who the Flyers could select at #4. Hextall’s comments would indicate that they would lean toward a forward, but without knowing what the Flyers’ draft board looks like, it’s impossible to know.
Don’t Expect to Hear Rumors About ItSince Ron Hextall began his tenure as GM last year, he’s done a very good job of keeping things under wraps. Unlike during Paul Holmgren’s tenure, very little has gotten out about trade talks or impending organizational moves under Hextall. Whether he’s told his staff he won’t accept it or reporters don’t know who to talk to in his front office, nothing gets out.
The best example of this was the hiring of Dave Hakstol, which was completely out of left field. Nobody even reported that the Flyers had spoken to him once, despite the fact that Hextall had courted him for a significant period of time.
If the Flyers do trade up, it will likely be a surprise when it happens. Hextall proved he was a savvy GM when he flipped Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen at the deadline. This could be the next big move for the organization. It would go a long way towards filling a glaring hole in the future.