Flyers, the NHL Draft Lottery, and ‘the Bedard Sweepstakes’

2022 NHL Entry Draft
Hockey team participate during the second day of the 2022 NHL Draft on Friday, July 8, 2022 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)
(Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)

Following a 31-38-13 finish to the 2022-2023 season, the Philadelphia Flyers enter the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery with the seventh-best odds to land the first-overall pick. What are those exact odds? 6.5%.

Mel Bridgman is the only player to be selected first overall by the Flyers in franchise history. Including Bridgman, a baker’s dozen within the top ten picks in their draft class made an impact, including Peter Forsberg, Bill Barber, and Ken Linseman.

In 2023, all eyes are on Connor Bedard when an NHL team goes on the clock.

The Flyers and the NHL Draft Lottery

An innovation from 1995, the NHL made a bold attempt to even the ice across the league, making the Draft Lottery exclusive to teams who missed the postseason. The catch was no team could move more than four spots from where they finished in the standings, meaning the worst five teams were exclusively eligible for the first overall pick.

The first NHL Draft Lottery selection by the Philadelphia Flyers was James van Riemsdyk in 2007, with the second overall selection.

Flyers' James van Riemsdyk
Flyers’ James van Riemsdyk (Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)

Since 2013, the teams who did not qualify for the postseason were eligible for the first overall pick, using a weighted system based on their season finish.

In the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Samuel Morin went eleventh to Philadelphia. Another defenseman followed in 2015 when the Flyers selected Ivan Provorov seventh overall.

Flyers' Ivan Provorov
DETROIT, MI – JANUARY 21: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov (9) looks on during an NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings on January 21, 2023 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire)

Then, by 2016, the top three picks in the NHL Entry Draft were up for grabs in the NHL Draft Lottery. Additional parameters for the Draft Lottery include not being able to jump more than ten places from the finishing standing and the inability to win two lotteries in a five-year span; preventing conventional tanking.

Nolan Patrick went second overall in 2017 to Philadelphia. Then, in 2019, Cam York at fourteenth. After 2019-2020, the Flyers failed to make the playoffs. Chuck Fletcher traded the 2021 first-round pick in a package deal for Rasmus Ristolainen, and then last offseason, Cutter Gauthier was the latest NHL Draft Lottery selection at fifth overall.

Flyers' Cutter Gauthier
MONTREAL, QC – JULY 07: Philadelphia Flyers pick Cutter Gauthier stands between management during the first round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft on July 07, 2022 at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire)

‘Connor Bedard Sweepstakes’

Daniel Briere has a simple job at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft if the Hockey Gods bless the Philadelphia Flyers. Gary Bettman will make his opening remarks, put the Flyers on the clock, Briere will lock in the pick, and Bedard embarks to Philadelphia.

After all, this is the ‘Connor Bedard Sweepstakes.’

Bedard played two complete seasons with the Regina Pats. His first stint with the Pats lasted fifteen games, and Bedard totaled 28 points (12G, 16A). Over the last two full seasons, he competed in 119 games, notching 243 points (122G, 121A). That doesn’t include his 2023 postseason efforts in the WHL, with 20 points (10G, 10A) in seven games.

The undisputed top prospect in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft is the highest-scoring skater across the draft class. Ironically, he won the Bobby Clarke Trophy in the WHL for tallying the most points in the season.

In the only time in franchise history where the Flyers had the first overall pick, they had to make their own history. Briere isn’t afraid to be aggressive on draft day, ala making a deal to move forward in the draft as Keith Allen did. Allen traded Bill Clement, Don MacLean, and the eighteenth overall pick for the top draw at the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft.

But, the Hockey Gods could shine on Philadelphia. The NHL would love for Bedard to revitalize one of its biggest markets leaguewide. A reason to believe puts the Flyers fans back into the Wells Fargo Center.

The 2023 NHL Entry Draft is scheduled for Wednesday, June 28th and Thursday, June 29th from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. It’ll air on ESPN.

(Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)