As GM Chuck Fletcher himself said earlier today, it’s still early in the off-season. The Philadelphia Flyers have another eleven days and a few hours yet to decide what they want to do with their first-round selection this year, the No. 11 pick. With that said, it sounds like Fletcher would prefer to forget about that countdown and instead trade the Flyers’ 2019 first-rounder. Speaking to the media this morning, Fletcher revealed that he’s “mentioned to teams that we’re in play, but there hasn’t been a big push for the pick yet”, adding that “it’s certainly a good chip that if moved, it could help” to land a major piece for the team.
While teams aren’t generally looking to trade away their first-round pick, one of the more valued assets in the NHL, nevertheless a pick as high as No. 11, the Flyers are one of the few teams who would be comfortable passing up a top selection for the right price. Philadelphia held picks No. 14 and 19 in the first round last year and grabbed forwards Joel Farabee and Jay O’Brien. Farabee was Hockey East’s Rookie of the Year at Boston University and is a candidate to break camp with the Flyers next season. O’Brien admittedly struggled in his first collegiate season, but the BCHL-bound prospect is likely to pay off down the road. The team also nabbed big defenseman Adam Ginning in the second round. Philly also had two first-round picks in 2017, the first notably being the No. 2 pick used on Nolan Patrick and the other being No. 27, which landed Morgan Frost, who has since recorded back-to-back 100+ point seasons for the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds and will also fight for a spot next season. Fellow OHL star forward Isaac Ratcliffe fell to the team in the second round, while they got a steal in another forward, the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Noah Cates, in the fifth round. With a young, deep defense corps and wunderkind keeper Carter Hart already in place in the NHL and such a strong pipeline of prospects, especially at forward, skipping the first round this year would not hurt the Flyers, especially if they can use the pick to add an established veteran player to the roster.
However, the team is obviously prepared to make the pick if Fletcher and company are unable to find the right move. “If we keep (the pick) and stay at 11, we’re going to get a good player,” Fletcher said. Assistant GM Brent Flahr also spoke with the media, praising the depth of this draft class:
At number 11, somebody will fall to us… I think from 3 to 15 there will be a lot of the same names, but teams will have them ordered differently and I think that bodes well for us… The way we look at it, we will take the best player at 11. I think as we go in the draft, we have some young defensemen that are in the NHL right now, and a couple coming, but we probably like to add defensemen depth to our organization going forward, whether it’s at 11 or the second or third round, we will see.
Judging by Flahr’s comments and the aforementioned organizational forward depth, Flyers fans can likely expect one of two things with the No. 11 pick: either the team could trade it, as appears to be the favored route of Fletcher, or if they are unable to or simply decide to keep it, could target a name like Cam York, Philip Broberg, or Victor Soderstrom to add a top defenseman to the pipeline. We’ll find out in less than two weeks as the NHL Draft draws close.