Readying for the Flyers Offseason: The Draft

NHL Entry Draft
VANCOUVER, BC – JUNE 21: Rogers Arena hosts Round One of the 2019 NHL Draft on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Flyers finished the season in 29th place with a record of 25-46-11 (61 points.) They haven’t had this bad of a finish since the 2006-2007 season when they were last in the league with a record of 22-48-12 (58 points.) We all know what happened that off-season. The Chicago Blackhawks won the draft lottery, and drafted arguably the greatest American-born player in NHL history, Patrick Kane!

It should also be noted that the Flyers only finished one other season, which wasn’t shortened by a lockout or COVID, with as many points. In 1968, the sophomore season, Philadelphia had a record of 20-35-21 (61 points), in 76 games; but they made the postseason.

As of now, the Flyers have the fourth-best draft odds. They hold a 9.5% chance of landing the first overall pick, probably Shane Wright.

Odds are never in the Flyers’ favor. It’s not pessimism. Philadelphia held the first overall pick one time in franchise history. Mel Bridgeman was the first overall selection via a trade with the Washington Capitals in 1975. Even then, it wasn’t because the Flyers lucked out with a bad record.

2022 Draft Rules and Changes

The 2022 NHL Draft Lottery honors a few rule changes. Most notable is that a team cannot win the lottery twice in a five-year period.

How will the Edmonton Oilers build a Stanley Cup team? How will Buffalo Sabres remain mediocre?

The Philadelphia Flyers could luck into the top of the draft order, or fall as low as sixth. Everyone will know their position for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft tomorrow.

Realistic Prospects

Philly Sports Network’s, Eric Reese, did a piece on three of the top prospects. So as not to double-dip, I will be looking at different prospects, that in mock drafts, have been taken by the Philadelphia Flyers, slated to pick fourth.

Logan Cooley, C, USA U18 (NTDP)

If not for Wright, Logan Cooley would likely be the top pick in the draft. Cooley is the second-ranked North American skater, according to NHL Central Scouting. He is also ranked as one of the top two prospects on a majority of the draft boards, though committed to playing at the University of Minnesota next season.

Cooley is touted as the best two-way forward and potential Frank J. Selke Award winner. He has a strong two-hundred-foot game, which has become common among players from the USNTDP. At 5’10’ and 174lbs, the Pittsburgh native would look great in Orange and Black.

The positives in his game certainly outweigh the negatives. He has exceptional hands, skates hard, and his hockey IQ is off the charts. The only negative is his size, which considering he just turned 18, he is still growing and can develop his strength. During the 2021-2022 NTDP campaign (U18 and Juniors,) Cooley played in 75 games registering 111pts (40G, 71A.)

Philadelphia doesn’t need another playmaker. They need an all-world goal-scorer. Cooley has the skills to be a scorer in the NHL, but his vision, hands, and playmaking ability project him as more of a set-up man. His style of play has been compared to Jonathan Toews and Aleksander Barkov. I bet he goes to the Arizona Coyotes to play on a different college campus.

Cutter Gauthier, LW, USA U18 (NTDP)

Cutter Gauthier has climbed up the rankings, now the third best North American skater in the draft, per NHL Central Scouting. Gauthier will be a top ten selection. If the Philadelphia Flyers took him as a top-five pick, it wouldn’t be a reach.

Gauthier is 6’3″ and 210lb winger who was born in Skellefteå, Sweden where his father, Sean, was finishing up his pro career. He played most of his hockey in Michigan, however. From the USNTDP, Gauthier may be a top-six forward for an NHL team.

An exceptionally strong skater, Gauthier cuts through the ice. He has great edge work and is deceptively fast. His main attribute is his shot, which has pinpoint accuracy from anywhere. Gauthier is a sniper, a type of player that the Flyers desperately need.

In his 2021-2022 with the USNTDP (U18 and Juniors,) Gauthier amassed 93pts (53G, 40A) in 76 games. Gauthier compares his game to Clayton Keller, who he watched play in the USNTDP.

(Photo by Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire)