As reported by Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, the NHL is throwing around the idea of holding the NHL Entry-Draft in June. While this is par-the-course during a typical NHL season, this isn’t a typical NHL season.
Regardless of the hurdles the league and its owners would have to clear, it’s an interesting concept. While many, if not all wrinkles would be ironed out by the time the draft rolls around, there will still be some questions fans and analysts alike.
The biggest question mark is obviously the draft order. How are you supposed to determine the draft order when the season isn’t over yet? That’s a problems that the Flyers will be presented with. They currently sit in a playoff position, so their draft pick slot is currently up in the air.
This move will impact many things across the board for NHL franchises. Outlooks, approaches, and actual moves will be determined based off of when the draft is held. The way the Flyers will be impacted? It shouldn’t hurt them too much, if at all.
The Flyers are currently in the second seed in the Metropolitan Division, pitting them against the three-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round if the playoffs happen. Regardless of whether they move on or are ousted in the first round, their draft approach shouldn’t be altered. The organization has invested a decent bit of draft capital in forwards recently. Having previously stocked up on quality defensive prospects, it may be time to revisit that approach this offseason.
The deeper and deeper the Flyers get into the playoffs, the less and less it will matter that the draft is before the playoffs. Even in a deep draft like this years, playoff teams likely won’t draft someone who is ready to step right in and make an impact at the NHL level the very next season. You’re not getting Quinton Byfield or Alexis Lafreniere outside of the top two picks, so go win the Stanley Cup, and don’t think twice about draft position.
This may be the part of the offseason that presents the biggest challenge if the draft were to be held in June. Going into the offseason, general managers and coaches alike map out their plan of attack. The order of events has always been draft, then free agency. If the order is reversed, it may have an effect on how other teams do business in the offseason.
For the Flyers, it’s business as usual. Where they’re projected to pick, they won’t be able to snag a player from the draft that can make an immediate impact. Since that’s the case, the draft has no bearing on next years roster. Free agency will likely go as-planned for the Flyers, with the events of the draft having little to no impact on how the Flyers approach free agency.
Perhaps even more difficult than free agency, the trade market at the draft may end up being very limited, or kabashed in its entirety. Every year, the draft is good for at least one big move involving a trade. If teams have yet to play their playoff rounds, trades involving players may be either difficult to complete, or just not possible.
The Flyers, again, find themselves in a solid position regarding the draft’s trade market. Philadelphia likely won’t find themselves trying to move up too far in the draft. Yes, more top-quality prospects are always a good thing. However, the Flyers farm is very talented, and giving up too much for just one impact player may not be in Chuck Fletcher’s best interests.
Freeing up cap may be an option, with contract extensions looming for Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, and Phil Myers. Surely, the league will have rules in place that will spell out how to go about these trades. The Flyers don’t figure to be key players in the draft day trade market anyway, so it should hold little to no impact for them.
All in All
The Flyers are in a solid position if Gary Bettman decides to hold the draft in June, before the playoffs. Whatever issue arises, the Flyers are in a great spot to be able to dodge that problem. Their secondary scoring is very competent. Their top lines are performing as top lines should. Goaltending is much better than years past. Defense is performing up to the task most nights than not.
A June draft before play resumes is extremely unconventional, but the Flyers are well equipped to handle the problems that may arise given the position the league is in.
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