Looking at the current Philadelphia Flyers prospect pool, it is clear to see which position is in the biggest need of an upgrade. At one point in time, Philadelphia’s position of strength, regarding prospects, was on the blueline. It included the likes of Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Samuel Morin. Now, all of those once-promising prospects are key pieces to the NHL roster.
At first glance, drafting a defenseman with the 11th-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft seems like a logical choice. Philadelphia needs to start refilling the blueline prospect cupboard. What better place to begin this mission than the first round of the upcoming draft?
Though defense might be the biggest “need” heading into the draft, it is unlikely Chuck Fletcher selects a defenseman in the first round. Will there be some draft-worthy blueliners available at pick 11? There sure will be. Prospects such as Moritz Seider, Cam York, and Victor Soderstrom could potentially still be on the board at that time. However, very intriguing forwards will also be available, some too good to pass up on.
The first round of the 2019 draft, especially the first half of it, is flush with potentially game-changing forwards. Of course, Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko are the top dogs and will be long gone by the Flyers pick. However, one would be foolish to think that they are the only two forwards with elite-level potential.
Aside from Bowen Byram, 11 of the first ten draft picks could be forwards and very few people would claim that poor picks were made. Of course, some teams will value a defenseman slightly higher than a forward causing top-ten worthy prospects to slide. Whoever, it is that slides, Fletcher would be foolish to pass on them.
In a first round as deep as this, prospects such as Kirby Dach, Dylan Cozens, Matthew Boldy, Vasili Podkolzin, and Cole Caufield may slide out of the top ten. If that’s the case, Philadelphia will be at the ready to scoop up whoever drops to them.
Yes, selecting a forward in the first round will not do anything to bolster its blueline prospect pool. However, it will increase the likelihood of bringing in a future key piece to the franchise. Chuck Fletcher is not an idiot, contrary to the opinion of some, and will look to address the need on defense as early as the second round.
The 2019 NHL Entry Draft is less than two weeks away. The first round promises to be exciting and unpredictable. However, one thing is almost certain. The Flyers will draft a forward with the 11th-overall pick.
Mandatory Credit: Jose F. Morena/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP