Despite the criticism Chuck Fletcher received this offseason, his keen eye for finding talent in the draft shouldn’t go unnoticed. The NHL draft is always a hit-or-miss event, and it’s been evident with the Philadelphia Flyers during the last decade.
The Flyers’ prospects from 2019-2022 are trending upwards. Reasonable doubt underlines Philadelphia ahead of the 2022-2023 season, but Fletcher should receive praise for his ability to replenish needs through the draft.
The 2019 NHL Draft was the first for Fletcher as the Flyers’ general manager. He made seven selections during the draft, with Cam York highlighting the class.
York proved in 2021-2022 that he’s ready for a full-time role in the NHL. He currently fits the third-pair the best but has the skill to play top minutes. The former fourteenth overall pick will be competing to solidify his spot on the roster during training camp, and the odds are leaning in his favor.
Two other selections during the 2019 draft who have made their Flyers debuts are Bobby Brink and Ronnie Attard. Both players signed their entry-level contracts this past spring and showed they are not far off from being with Philadelphia full-time.
Brink’s playmaking abilities add more skill to the Flyers’ right wing, and Attard brings another much-needed right-handed shot on defense.
Five selections were made by Philadelphia during the 2020 NHL Draft. Tyson Foerster, Emil Andrae, Zayde Wisdom, Elliot Desnoyers, and Connor McClennon were all added to the prospect pool. Now, only four players remain from the draft class as McClennon’s rights were released by the Flyers in June.
Foerster, Desnoyers, and Andrae competed for their respective countries during the 2022 World Junior Championship. Foerster and Desnoyers won gold with Canada and Andrae captained Sweden to bronze.
Foerster has been a highly rated prospect since being drafted. His ability to play center and on the right wing makes him versatile, accentuating his strengths: a shoot-first mentality.
Desnoyers has seen his stock rise each year in Philadelphia’s system. Making the 2022 Canada WJC team was no easy feat, but Desnoyers showcased his ability to overcome and adapt. He’s a two-way forward who likes to model his game after Sean Couturier and Patrice Bergeron.
Andrae had a dominant WJC campaign, skyrocketing his stock within the Flyers’ system. He’s gained attention from all across the NHL, making him one of the league’s most exciting defensive prospects.
Wisdom had a successful junior career and played well during a short stint with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in 2020-2021. He’ll be back with the Phantoms for the 2022-2023 season, to continue his promising development.
Philadelphia traded away their thirteenth overall selection for Rasmus Ristolainen in 2021 but still made six selections. Highlighted by Samu Tuomaala who was drafted 46th overall, Fletcher and the Flyers found talent in the later stages.
Fletcher has found success with late-round draft picks in Minnesota. Talented players can slip into the later rounds for various reasons. It was noticeable when Fletcher selected Kirill Kaprizov, Erik Haula, and Darcy Kuemper during his tenure with the Wild.
Fletcher selected Owen McLaughlin in the seventh round in 2021. McLaughlin will be playing at the University of North Dakota next season. He averaged more than a point per game with the Sioux City Musketeers in the USHL during 2021-2022 and models his game around Mathew Barzal.
McLaughlin was given a bona fide offer by Philadelphia in June. If all goes well with the development of McLaughlin and he eventually signs a contract with the Flyers, he might be another late-round Fletcher success story.
This most recent draft was one that Philadelphia had to nail. After one of the worst Flyers seasons, owning the fifth overall pick was the earliest Fletcher had drafted in his career as a general manager.
Cutter Gauthier was the selection and he sits at the top of the prospect pool. He was the best forward available and brings upside with him to Philadelphia. He has future top-six potential, drawing comparisons to Jeff Carter, but likes to model his game after Mark Scheifele and Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Aside from Gauthier, Fletcher could have struck gold in the later rounds. Devin Kaplan fell into the third round and the Flyers chose him with the 69th overall pick. He’s a power-forward who uses his size to win board battles, fitting John Tortorella’s identity of being a hard team to play.
Don’t sleep on Alex Bump. He’s the top high school player in Minnesota, named the AP Minnesota Player of the Year.
(Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire)