With the NHL draft hoping to be done in about a month, it’s time to begin flashing back to the Flyers’ draft classes in the past two decades. In the second installment of Philly Sports Network’s “where are they now” draft series, we take a look at the 2001 NHL draft.
Before getting into the picks, it’s important to analyze the season leading up to the draft. During the 2000-2001 season, coach Bill Barber propelled the Flyers after replacing Craig Ramsey after 28 games. Despite a 12-12-4 start to the season, Philadelphia found themselves with a 43-25-11-3 record for a grand total of 100 points at the end of the season. Their performance earned them second place in the Atlantic Division and a playoff berth, where they’d quickly be eliminated in the first round by the Buffalo Sabres.
Their playoff run would land them with the 27th overall pick in the 2001 draft.
The 2001 NHL draft was very top heavy on talent. Ilya Kovalchuk and Jason Spezza went back to back to kick off the draft. Familiar faces RJ Umberger and Carlo Colaiacovo were selected before the Flyers had their pick as well.
On the clock with pick 27, the Flyers selected 18-year-old D-man Jeff Woywitka, from the Red Deer Rebels (WHL). The 6’3, 225 pound Canadian was drafted due to his point-scoring abilities as a blue liner. His 41 goals and 99 assists (268 games) earned him a spot in the Flyers’ prospect pipeline. One of his downfalls, however, was his lack of physicality- especially for his size. Woywitka himself even mentioned in a 2002 interview that he needed to improve his physical play if he wanted to make it to the big leagues.
Woywitka wound up getting his first NHL call up in 2005, but it wasn’t in a Flyers’ jersey. After only accumulating six points in 29 games with the Phantoms, Woywitka was traded in 2003 to Edmonton by Philadelphia with Philadelphia’s 1st round choice (Rob Schremp) in 2004 Entry Draft and Philadelphia’s 3rd round choice (Danny Syvret) in 2005 Entry Draft for Mike Comrie.
Woywitka wound up bouncing around the AHL and NHL third pairings, accumulating 55 points in 278 career NHL games. He retired in 2013 as a New York Ranger.
A fun fact is that Edmonton would end up packing Woywitka to get Chris Pronger, who would eventually find himself in Philly. In hindsight, maybe this pick landed the Flyers Pronger, who knows!
The Flyers did not have a second round pick in this draft, as they traded it to the Florida Panthers for Jiri Dopita. That pick would wind up in Calgary’s hands, as they drafted Andrei Medvedev.
However, the Flyers did not disappoint despite missing out on a high pick (at least, not at the time). They actually wound up drafting a significant piece to three Stanley Cup Championships… just not for them.
Philadelphia gambled on a NCAA prospect out of the University of Vermont. After only accumulating 27 points in 34 games in his first collegiate season, Sharp slipped a bit in the draft. The 6’1, 185 pound winger came into the 2001 draft as a “natural goal scoring prospect who is an incredible skater.”
After being drafted, Sharp immediately signed with the team and left college. He played the majority of his rookie season with the Phantoms, where he picked up 33 points in 53 games, while making three appearances for the Flyers. The next season, he fought his way onto the Flyers opening night roster, and wound up playing 41 games for Philly, where he piled up a mere seven points, but 55 penalty minutes.
He couldn’t get much going the following season either with only eight points in 22 NHL appearances, so the Flyers decided to give him a change of scenery. Sharp was traded to Chicago with Eric Meloche for Matt Ellison and Chicago’s 3rd round pick (later traded to Montreal – Montreal selected Ryan White) in 2006 NHL Draft.
Needless to say, however, that the Flyers wound up losing big time on this trade. Now retired, Sharp officially picked up three Stanley Cup Championships, 620 NHL points, and an Olympic Gold Medal. Not too bad for a third round draft choice.
After about four trades, the Flyers wound up without a fourth-round pick. However, they stockpiled a trio of fifths, and pairs of sixth and seventh-round picks as well.
Before Kimmo Timonen found his way in orange and black, Philly saw potential in the Fin’s younger brother, Jussi. The first of the Flyers three picks in the fifth round, Jussi was drafted off of his potential. His 6’0, 203-pound frame allowed him to control the pace of play in the corners, yet still have remarkable puck control because he was a forward as a kid. His lack of scoring is what kept him out of many teams’s draft boards, and ultimately, out of the NHL.
Timonen played in Finland until the 2005-2006 season, eventually coming to the Phantoms in 2006. His professional career was brief, playing in 14 NHL games and 60 AHL games for Philly, and then 33 games for Dallas’ AHL affiliate after being traded for “future considerations.” He returned back to Finland soon after, where he’s actually still playing at 36 years of age.
Bernd Bruckler and Roman Malek
The Flyers spent their next two picks on accumulating goaltender depth in their prospect pipeline.
The first of the two, Bernd Bruckler, was chosen 150 overall. After one season in the USHL, Bruckler started 28 games, where he posted a solid 2.48 GAA and .918 save percentage. More importantly, he saved .924 percent of the shots he faced in the playoffs that season in his seven playoff appearances.
After being drafted, Bruckler committed to the University of Wisconsin, where he would play all four seasons. He never made it to the NHL, but earned short stints with several minor league teams. Brückler finished the 2005–06 season by taking the Espoo Blues of the Finnish SM-liiga into the playoffs. He posted a fantastic save percentage in his nine regular-season games, registering three shutouts. He would wrap up his career following the 2015-2016 season after signing a bunch of one-year deals to play overseas.
Roman Malek was chosen eight picks later at 158 overall. Málek was a goalie who played a modern butterfly style. He was excellent laterally and has fast reflexes. Despite his size not covering up much of the net, he had a stellar glove hand to make up for it, which is why the Flyers loved him that late.
He would never end up playing in North America at all, unlike Bruckler. Malek found himself posting above-average numbers for many teams in different Czech leagues, but nothing good enough to play professionally here. He is now a Goalie Coach in Slavia Prague and runs Goalie Service Camps for young goalies. Recently, he also built a training goalie net for his offsprings to practice during the coronavirus pandemic, which is working out pretty well.
The Flyers found some gold later in this draft, taking Dennis Seidenberg with the 172nd overall pick. The solid defenseman hardly let any person or any shot past him. His egregious natural defending and shot-blocking ability helped springboard him to the NHL quicker than most sixth-round picks. Coming out of Germany, Seidenberg played for a handful of German professional and international league clubs before being drafted in ’01. Averaging nearly a point per game between all games played in the two years leading up to the draft, Seidenberg earned himself a chance with an NHL club.
He would stay with his German club for one more season following the draft. However, this would change as he would find himself making an NHL impact a mere 19 games after his AHL career kicked off. Seidenberg would play in a total of 92 games in orange and black, picking up 38 total points. He would be traded 29 games into the 2005-2006 season to Phoenix by with a 4th round pick (later traded to NY Islanders – NY Islanders selected Tomas Marcinko) in 2006 NHL Draft for Petr Nedved and Phoenix’s 4th round pick (Joonas Lehtivuori) in 2006 NHL Draft.
Seidenberg would go onto play a long career. Accumulating 859 total NHL games throughout 15 seasons, he would contribute 359 career points. He retired following the 2017-2018 season.
With their other sixth round pick, the Flyers would select high scoring Russian forward Andrei Razin. Razin would pick up 357 career points in 511 games playing in Russia, earning him a chance at the NHL.
However, Razin would be another player to never come over to the states. He remained in Russia for the entirety of his playing career. The 5’11, 187 pound winger/center combo continued to dominate in Russia. Playing for four other teams until the 2007-2008 season, Razin earned 483 total points in 649 games played, both professionally and internationally.
To wrap up the Flyers 2001 draft, they took back-to-back D-men in the seventh round.
The first of their picks was Theirry Douville at 208 overall. Douville was a towering defensive prospect, standing at 6’5, 230 pounds. Being a young 18 year old at the draft because of his birthday, Douville also had a later start to his Juniors career. Between 105 games in the QMAAA and QMJHL, Douville could only scrounge together 11 points.
Because of this, the closest he would get to the league would be the ECHL (2 seasons) and AHL (3 games). He would go back to Canada to play hockey at a lower level until 2012. Douville then took a hiatus until 2016 where he would play for the St-Pierre Gentilly Ford until his “official” retirement in 2018.
To wrap up their draft, Philly would select David Printz at 225 overall. After a slow start to his career with four down seasons with the AIK J20 team, Printz worked his way to the AWHL. There, he would accumulate a solid 36 points in 54 games for the Great Falls Americans in 2000-2001, earning him some draft attention.
Following the draft, he would return to Sweden to play for the AIK J20 team, and eventually sign a contract to play for the Trenton Titans (2 games) then the Phantoms (50 games) in 2004. Printz continued play for the Phantoms until his first call up in 2005-2006, where he played one game for the Flyers.
The next season, he would find himself in orange and black for 12 more games. However, he would never score an NHL point in his career. Despite bouncing around to Germany a couple times, Printz would return home to the Swedish Hockey League, where he still plays to this day at the age of 39.
Mandatory Credit – © Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports