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Talks Heat Up as Draft Day Approaches

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
Vancouver, BC – When all 30 general managers and their staffs convene in one location, there are sure to be plenty of discussions according to Flyers Assistant General Manager Paul Holmgren. Especially when it's the annual NHL Entry Draft.

"There's always a lot of talk at this time of year amongst the GMs, teams trying to move up in the draft, teams maybe trying to move backwards," said Holmgren on Friday morning. "There's a little bit of talk about players changing teams. Anytime you get all 30 general managers in one town it sort of breeds the environment as far as sharing ideas and seeing what is available and what you can do to improve your team."

That being said, the Flyers have had discussions with other teams about moving up in the first round. Right now, Philadelphia owns the 22nd overall pick. Trading up, however, would come with a price.

"We've had some conversations with other teams about moving up. Whether we can or not remains to be seen," said Holmgren. "It's a costly venture, and I think in order to get one of these top players that are available in this draft you've got to get up in the top six, seven or eight.

"The top seven or eight guys are the guys you really look to move up for. In other words, to move to the 10th pick, we might get the same pick at 22. I think there's so much similarity once you get past the first group of eight players. Unless we get into that top tier, I would rather just stand pat. I think that's the way we all feel right now."

Even if the Flyers are unable to move up in the draft, they have a multitude of choices with three second round picks. In addition to their own, Philadelphia received Los Angeles' second round pick as compensation for Dean Lombardi becoming the General Manager of the Kings as well as Phoenix's pick which was acquired on draft day last season.

Philadelphia also has the option to swap fourth round picks with Phoenix as part of the Petr Nedved trade last season. If they choose to do so, the Flyers will have six of the first 101 choices.

Holmgren and the Flyers staff are confident that even if they are unable to move up, they will be able to find some quality players in the early rounds.

"In the 22nd pick, we have a group of players that we have identified and we'll just wait and see what is available. It's about four or five guys, and obviously there are ones that we like better than the other guys.

"If we had to pick at 22 it wouldn't bother me one bit. I think we'll come up with a good player and a good young prospect. We've got three picks in the second round, and I think we're going to get good players with those picks as well."

Still, if the Flyers decide it is in their best interests to move up, they will be getting a player whom they view will be more ready for the NHL than someone that will be drafted later in the first round.

"If you can get into that top tier, it's our belief that you're getting more of an impact player and perhaps a player that can play sooner than some of these other players."

Downie Headed to Philadelphia

Speaking of draft choices, Philadelphia first round pick last year, Steve Downie, will arrive in town shortly to begin training at the Flyers' practice facility in Voorhees, NJ.

"Steve is probably going to come into Philadelphia here within the next week or two for the summer and spend the rest of the summer training and getting ready for the upcoming season," said Holmgren. "Obviously, he has another year of junior eligibility but I'm looking forward to seeing how he does in training camp with our team."

Downie posted 50 points (16g, 34a) in 34 games with the Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey League last season, along with 109 penalty minutes.

At the World Junior Championships in Vancouver, he helped Team Canada to the gold medal with six points (2g, 4a) in six games and was named to the all-tournament team.
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