On October 6th-7th, 2020, the NHL will host their 58th Entry Draft. For the Flyers, it’s all about making sure the new era continues the right way. The virtual draft will be the first of its kind throughout NHL history. Players born between January 1st, 2000, and September 15th, 2002, will be eligible for selection in this draft. Non-North American players born in 1999 are also eligible along with those drafted in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, but unsigned and born after June 30th, 2000. Within those restrictions is a bevy of players that will be important to team depth in the 2020-2021 season while replacing potential players who may be taken by the Seattle Kraken in the NHL Expansion Draft before the 2021-2022 season.
Metropolitan Division rivals, the New York Rangers, have the first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. It is important that the Philadelphia Flyers effectively replace players who will likely be gone, such as Justin Braun, Derek Grant, and Nate Thompson, with exceptional youth. The Flyers must keep the Seattle Kraken expansion draft in mind too, perhaps replacing potential players like James van Riemsdyk, Shayne Gostisbehere, or Robert Hagg. Additionally, this draft offers the opportunity to add pieces for powerplay purposes and rotational purposes at the goaltender position. Philadelphia’s powerplay has been mediocre at best in recent memory, and Brian Elliott is closer to the twilight of his career.
However, the 2020 NHL Entry Draft provides an opportunity to make a blockbuster trade. Could the Philadelphia Flyers add a stud playmaker on draft day by putting together a trade package? A key issue with the Flyers is that big contracts are tied up with players who are not producing. What if there was a way to turn a bad contract into a good contract? I think Philadelphia would jump at the opportunity.
Round 1; Pick 23; RD Braden Schneider
Braden Schneider is an appropriate pick to replace Justin Braun. Chuck Fletcher signed Braun at the beginning of 2019-2020 because he wanted a veteran to toe the line on the third pairing. That took the opportunity away from Mark Friedman, who did not do a bad job in his six games played (1 assist, 1 point, plus/minus of 0). Yegor Zamula and Samuel Morin are left defensemen too, so Schneider makes sense on the right side. The Philadelphia Flyers are noticeably deeper at forwards than they are defensive.
In sixty games played, Braden Schneider tallied 42 points. He’s a playmaker and was the alternate captain for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the CHL. Alain Vigneault values a right-handed shot, which explains Justin Braun’s continued usage in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. Schenider’s strength is his passing in transition and wrist shot from the blue line. His NHL player comparison based on his hockey-style is Brent Seabrook.
Round 2; Pick 54; Winnipeg Jets Trade
Originally, I had Luke Tuch penciled in as the selection with the 54th overall pick. While I would be ecstatic if the Philadelphia Flyers simply selected Tuch, I think this pick presents a golden opportunity in a package trade to the Winnipeg Jets.
I’ve scheduled a pick in this draft to replace Shayne Gostisbehere if he were selected by the Seattle Kraken in their expansion draft. The Philadelphia Flyers have depth at the center position which doesn’t mean Nolan Patrick is as valuable as he once was. This pick would be a sweetener in the pot for the Winnipeg Jets to fork over Patrik Laine. The Jets need a center and defense. Gostisbehere showed that he still does have value in the latter end of the 2019-2020 season while Patrick is a young, cheap option for Winnipeg if he is cleared to continue his career.
For what it’s worth, the Winnipeg Jets could draft Luke Tuch. That would be Patrik Laine’s replacement. The Philadelphia Flyers would land a dual-wing threat in Laine, and his pay would be worth the production as Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk are unknowns in the long-term aspect. Laine is only 22-years-old. His youth is worth the $6.75mil contract, and Philadelphia doesn’t sacrifice any talent. It works out equally for both parties.
Round 4; Pick 116; C Ilya Altybarmakyan
Ilya Altybarmakyan would be a selection that offers depth value to replace Derek Grant and Nate Thompson. He’s an evenly balanced center, scoring forty points in 51 games with St. Petersberg in the MHL. Altybarmakyan continues to improve every season, and 2019-2020 was his career-best. He’s a right-handed shooter and his brother, Andrei, plays for the Chicago Blackhawks.
There is a red flag regarding Ilya Altybarmakyan. He was previously suspended by the IIHF Disciplinary Board due to a doping violation. Cocaine was found in his system after sampling. The Philadelphia Flyers already experienced this roller-coaster with Jori Lehtera. Altybarmakyan has serious potential as a fourth-round selection, but his character flaws may push him away from NHL franchises.
Round 5, Pick 147; LD Justin Bergeron
Justin Bergeron is a replacement if Shayne Gostisbehere leaves to the Winnipeg Jets during the second round or if the Seattle Kraken selects him in the expansion draft. Gostisbehere is a defenseman with a purpose for the powerplay. Consider Bergeron for that scheme, but at a total bargain in comparison.
A noticeable playmaker, Justin Bergeron registered 42 points in 57 games while splitting time with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and the Rimouski Oceanic during 2019-2020 in the QMJHL. He regressed a little bit, but that is expected when you go to a different team in the middle of the season. The year before, Bergeron played the entire 2018-2019 season with the Huskies. He’s a great skater with a high hockey IQ, quick wrist shot, and excellent puck placement for one-timer passing. Improving defensive physicality and awareness is vital, but very coachable in the Philadelphia Flyers system.
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Photo by Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire
Eric is a University of Delaware graduate with a degree in English. While in school, he began writing for different publications such as The Highlight Network, Amps and Greenscreens, and he did color commentary for the University of Delaware Men’s and Women’s lacrosse teams throughout the 2013 season as an alumni. Prior to being featured with Philly Sports Network, he began a pro-wrestling podcast with a childhood friend called the Totally Over Podcast. As an avid sports die-hard for all things Philadelphia, Eric is also a proud supporter of West Virginia University.