Ahead of the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery, the Philadelphia Flyers have the fourth-best odds at the first overall pick.
The Flyers have a 9.5% chance at snagging the first overall pick, winning the Shane Wright sweepstakes. The Montreal Canadiens, last in the 2021-2022 NHL standings, have an 18.5% in locking down the first pick. Both teams could slip further down the order.
Chuck Fletcher has to choose a player as close to NHL ready as possible. It would fit his narrative of an “aggressive retool.” Fletcher has drafted well in Philadelphia. This time, he has a first-round pick.
The Flyers have pressing needs at LW, C, RD, and G. Will Fletcher address one of those in the first round, select the best available player, or do both simultaneously?
Since the draft positions aren’t confirmed, I’m using the odds placement of each team.
Matthew Savoie will likely be available when Wright and Logan Cooley are off the board. That’s perfect for the Philadelphia Flyers. Between those three, they’re getting a heck of a center prospect.
He’s as fruitful a playmaker as Wright, scoring only four fewer points than the top prospect. If the Flyers, fourth-best NHL Draft Lottery odds, hold their position, Savoie is a steal. Wright and Cooley are likely locks as the first and second overall selections. They’re more well-rounded, but Savoie is as potent on the power play. An indictment on Savoie is that he passes when he should shoot.
Down the pipeline, Philadelphia has Tyson Foerster, Zayde Wisdom, Jon-Randall Avon, and Max Willman in their system. Patrick Brown will battle to remain on the fourth line in training camp. Morgan Frost, Jackson Cates, and Tanner Laczynski still need a qualifying offer. The Flyers will likely extend Frost, but drafting Savoie brings more competition to develop at a higher level and remain healthy.
Heading into an offseason stressing high-end talent, this is an opportunity for Fletcher to strike at a bargain. Savoie is one of the best skaters in terms of explosiveness to separate from defenders in transition and stamina to work the forecheck in the OZ.
Wright, Cooley, and Savoie might move off the board in that order. Fletcher has to decide if he wants to take an offensive or defensive approach. If the decision is offense, then there is a big left winger staring back at the Philadelphia Flyers.
Juraj Slafkovsky put Slovakia on the map, scoring twice to secure the bronze at the Olympics, where he was the MVP. At 6’4″ and 218lbs, that’s a lot of body to put into a wicked slap shot. Slafkovsky protects the puck at an elite level in this draft class. One scout compared his puck protection to Jaromir Jagr.
In 2022-2023, Fletcher will aim to move James van Riemsdyk. Oskar Lindblom needs to have his rebound season in a contract year. Already in the pipeline is Elliot Desnoyers. Isaac Ratcliffe is likely to receive an extension, whereas Matthew Strome needs a qualifying offer. Slafkovsky, after a season of development, would be ready to make an impression for the Flyers by the end of 2022-2023.
He’s a terror for opponents in the NZ. Slafkovsky would be a hit in Philadelphia.
If the Philadelphia Flyers maintain their fourth-best NHL 2022 Draft Lottery odds, they won’t lose out on other elite prospects. Thus far, I’ve only considered that the three teams with better odds will pick forwards. Simon Nemec could be available when the Flyers are on the clock, but I wouldn’t be surprised if an early team snatched him.
He is the best defenseman in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Say Philadelphia selected him and hired Rikard Grönborg to be the head coach. Suddenly, you have a match made in heaven. Nemec also played on the Slovakia Olympic team with Slafkovsky, notching an assist while Slafkovsky scored at a goal-per-game pace. A defenseman who will take risks to spring a play but stays defensively stable with elite two-way capability makes for another solid selection.
The Flyers lack depth at RD within their system. Wyatte Wylie is the only true RD remaining with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Ronnie Attard will probably head back to the Phantoms in 2022-2023 for assignment, which leaves Philadelphia relying on Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen at 1RD and 2RD. Fletcher could sign a UFA defenseman to play 3RD in 2022-2023, but it would serve as another band-aid. A long-term solution is acquiring depth, which Nemec ought to be at the top of the list.
We saw what losing a good, right-handed shot did when Justin Braun went to the New York Rangers. Nemec is great on the powerplay and penalty kill, which would relieve stress from Ellis and Ristolainen on special teams.
(Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon Sportswire)