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Best Draft Years in Flyers History

by Jay Greenberg / Philadelphia Flyers

Bobby Clarke at pick No. 17 in 1969, in the NHL’s first universal amateur draft, was the Flyers’ all-time jackpot.

Twice they have plucked their best player for a generation at No. 22 in taking Simon Gagne in 1998 and Claude Giroux in 2006.

Brian Propp at No. 14 in 1979 worked out for 369 Flyers goals and three trips to the finals. Mike Richards at No. 24 keyed the Flyers to a final. And then there were the longshots – Paul Holmgren at 108, Ron Hextall at 119, Rick Tocchet at 125, Pete Peeters at 135 and Gordie Murphy at 189 -- that paid big.

The Flyers have made their share of smart and fortunate picks in the draft. And every once in a while, they have made many in the same year.

These are the best Flyer drafts in their history:

Since Montreal had picks numbers four, six and eight, Bill Barber hoped to go fifth to Buffalo or seventh to Philadelphia, building franchises that needed more immediate help.

He got his wish at No. 7, and the Flyers received the best left wing of his time, fortunate picking considering that of the first six choices in what was considered to be a loaded draft, only Steve Shutt joined Barber in the Hall of Fame.

In the second round, at No. 23, the Flyers picked Tom Bladon, a regular defenseman on both Cup teams; at No. 39 they chose Jimmy Watson, who was a five-time All Star; and at No. 55 they took Alan MacAdam, who scored 240 NHL goals after being traded for Reggie Leach.

“No idea why I lasted that long,” says Watson, who had a Western Canada League defenseman of the year trophy to recommend him, along with a big brother already playing for the Flyers. Bladon was another Westerner, in the territory of Jerry Melnyk, the scout who had been so insistent the Flyers not be intimidated by Bobby Clarke’s diabetes. MacAdam was one of the first players taken out of the Maritimes, reflective of some thinking ahead of its time.

There may never have been another team that went four-for-the-first four like this.

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