Aside from the occurrence of the Stanley Cup Finals, we have reached a slightly dull point in the hockey world. Franchises like the Philadelphia Flyers have been away from games for quite some time now and fans are becoming impatient waiting for the offseason happenings to occur. Luckily the 2019 NHL Entry Draft is less than a month away and action will start to pick up after the Stanley Cup is awarded to either St. Louis or Boston.
For relatively new General Manager, Chuck Fletcher, the time to place his first big stamp on the Flyers is just around the corner. There is a universal understanding among those a part of the Flyers organization that the time to start winning is now. The Stanley Cup might not be a realistic goal for next season, however, Fletcher knows that expectations involve a respectable postseason run. It’s not about building for the future anymore. It’s about making the Flyers a top team in the Eastern Conference now.
Holding the 11th-overall pick in the upcoming draft, Fletcher has plenty of options to explore. There are a lot of quality prospects at both at forward and defense, making the decision to address a particular position challenging. Of course, there is also the option of trading the pick for either an NHL-proven talent or more picks later on in the draft.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of the options the Flyers have regarding the 11th-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, shall we?
Draft a Forward
This year’s draft is flush with quality forward prospects. There may be a few teams that reach and pick a defenseman to address a need, however, there is truly only one prospect ranked in the top ten that mans the blueline. The rest, naturally, are forwards. This means that if the Flyers decide to select the best player available, which they should, it will be a forward.
Even though Philadelphia is picking right outside the top ten, there will still be a top forward prospect available. There’s a chance players such as Vasili Podkolzin, Matthew Boldy, or Trevor Zegras fall into Philadelphia’s lap. If not, there will still be some strong options in Peyton Krebs, Arthur Kaliyev, and Raphael Lavoie available. Either way, a great center or winger with legitimate NHL-upside will be there.
Draft a Defenseman
The first round might be filled to the brim with draft-worthy forwards but that does not eliminate the fact that the Flyers need to replenish its farm system with blueliners. The best defenseman in the draft, Bowen Byram, will be long gone by the time the Flyers pick. However, every other intriguing d-man could potentially still be on the board when Philadelphia is called upon to make a pick. If the Flyers chose to address the defense, they could turn to prospects such as Cam York, Victor Soderstrom, Philip Broberg, or Thomas Harley.
Personally, I think there will be a forward to good to pass on for the Flyers to select a defenseman. Yes, Philadelphia needs to restock its prospect pool with a new set of blueliners. However, the team also has a bunch of young defensemen in the NHL that make this a slightly less pressing matter.
Trade for NHL Talent
As I mentioned earlier, the Flyers want to contend for a cup sooner rather than later. The days of patiently waiting for all of the prospects to develop is over. Yes, Fletcher will be active in free agency but he will be just as active in the trade market. The 11th-overall pick will serve as a valuable trade trip. Philadelphia might have to use it in a package but they should be able to bring in a valuable piece to improve the NHL roster.
Of all the options, I find this one to be the most likely. Whether it’s the correct approach or not, Philadelphia’s focus is on the NHL roster, not the prospect pool. Fletcher is going to do his best to use his first-round pick as a bargaining chip to bring a player such as Jacob Trouba.
Trade Back in the Draft
Though this option is the least likely, it is still an option. If the Flyers like a prospect and they are confident he will be available later in the first round, they could trade back and acquire another pick in the process. If this was Ron Hextall we were talking about, I could see this happening. However, with Fletcher at the helm, I’d be shocked if this scenario occurred.
Mandatory Credit: Jose F. Morena/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP