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DRAFT: What can happen?

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren admitted what each and every one of the 29 other teams in the NHL are thinking. They would very much like to have as many first and second round picks as possible.

Round 1: to TOR in exchange for Kris                    Versteeg on Feb. 14, 2011
Round 2: to PHX in exchange for Dan
                 Carcillo on Mar. 4, 2009
Round 3: 84th overall (from PIT)
Round 4: 116th overall
Round 4: 118th overall (from TB)
Round 5: to DET in exchange for Ville                  Leino on Feb. 6, 2010
Round 6: 176th overall
Round 7: 206th overall

What Holmgren didn’t admit was if the Flyers, who do not have a selection until the third round (84th overall), were planning on sneaking in to move up in the draft and acquire a first-rounder.

“Just like any other draft we go in with an open mind, listening and seeing what’s available. Obviously, there are teams trying to jockey for positions right now. I think there are a few teams from what I can gather that have later picks that are trying to move up,” said Holmgren. “It just seems likes there’s a lot of talk right now anyway around the league, so there could be a lot of things happening as we get closer to Friday.”

It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that the Flyers do indeed make a play and move up.

After all it’s happened before.

The Flyers traded two second-round picks in 2002 to secure the No. 4 overall pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning. A pick in which they selected defenseman Joni Pitkanen.

Of even lesser known, the Flyers traded forward Daymond Langkow in 2001 to the Phoenix Coyotes, who in turn sent their 2nd round pick in 2002, as well as their first round pick the following year (2003) to the Flyers.

That first rounder in 2003 turned out to be Jeff Carter and allowed the Flyers to acquire both Carter and Michael Richards with two first round picks.

That being said, another strong argument is that although the Flyers lack a pick in the top 80, they do own a total five picks in the draft, including two in the fourth round.

History has also proven that later picks can turn out to be hidden gems. Look no further than Kimmo Timonen (10th round – 250th overall – LA Kings) or Kris Versteeg (5th round – 134th overall – Boston Bruins).

“I think they improve drastically; it’s another stab at a prospect,” added Holmgren on the difference between quantity of picks and quality. “I think we have made some deals for higher picks that have given us good players that are still of a good age that will be good players for a number of years… Whether anything happens or not, I don’t know, but right now our first pick is at 84 of the 3rd round and there is a chance that we can get a good player there.” 

The latter part is what Holmgren, and really any good scout will tell you is the basis of the entire draft process. Finding a good player no matter what his position is.

“Obviously we are going to try to draft the best player available regardless of the position. We probably need to strengthen all areas, and that’s kind of where the open mind comes in.  When we get to that point we’re not just going to try for one position. If you look on our reserve list we could probably add something in every category.”

One thing is for certain however. There isn’t an immediate or pressing need to re-stock and develop players in a hurried manner. The current Flyers roster is, as most experts would agree, still very deep and as it turns out, still fairly young.

“I think if you look at our team right now, we are very strong down the middle and I think our NHL team we have a couple older guys on the back end, Kimmo [Timonen] and Kris [Versteeg] but we do have some good guys that are fairly young, Braydon [Coburn], Matt Carle and [Andrej] Meszaros, are still all still fairly young if you consider their age.”

With draft week upon us, the time is now to open up the floodgates for speculation, but the one thing every Flyers fan should know is that work done by all Flyers scouts, management and executives extends well before and well beyond the actual NHL Draft.
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