A Look Back at the Flyers' 2004 Draft

There has been a lot of talk about draft picks around here lately since the Flyers don't have a 1st or 2nd round pick in this upcoming draft.  With that in mind, when Hockey Wilderness took a look at their former drafts, it made me wonder:  How well have the Flyers drafted recently?

Just a reminder:  Broad Street Hockey's Draft Pick Tracker is a phenomenal tool for you.  It's located on the left hand sidebar, or through that link right there.

Without wanting to go too far back, I decided to look at the draft immediately before the lockout.  Needless to say, this draft might be an excellent parallel.  And not necessarily good news.

First, the Flyers did not have a first or second round pick that year, either.  They were traded for "win-now" deals, with veterans coming the other way.  Clearly, they didn't work out.

Jump after for good news/bad news.

We all know the bad news:  the Flyers don't have a first or second round pick in 2010.  Want to know the good news?  The Flyers are used to this.  The amount of picks going in and out of Philadelphia between the trading deadline and the draft is startling.  So with that, we'll look at the 2004 draft.

The Flyers started dealing picks for 2004 all the way back in 2002.  They got a conditional 5th round pick when they traded Jiri Dopita away, but the condition wasn't met.  They were left with just a 3rd for him, which could still be considered a victory.  From there, the Flyers made a litany of moves.  A quick rundown: gave up their 7th round pick, their 2nd round pick, acquired a 2nd round pick, a 6th round pick, another 6th round pick, another 6th round, a 7th round, a 9th round, a 7th round, then traded away their 1st round, acquired a 5th, traded away one of their acquired 7th rounds, received a 5th, received a 4th, traded away the 2nd they got (once again leaving them without one), acquired an 8th, and lastly traded away a 5th and two 6th rounders.

For those who stopped reading, that's 12 coming in and 8 going out.  Here's what became of those picks:

First Round - Traded to Edmonton with Jeff Woywitka and a 2005 third-round pick for 21 games worth of Mike Comrie.  While Woywitka hasn't been all he was hyped to be, he's a steady NHL defenseman.  The third-round pick became Danny Syvret.  The Flyers first-round pick became Rob Schremp, a largely disappointing player for the Oilers.  Even more frustrating is when you look at players taken after this pick.  Now, to avoid bias, I only look to the first 5 players selected after:  Cory Schneider, Jeff Schultz, Mike Fistric, and Mike Green.  The fact that Washington drafted Jeff Schultz over Mike Green is a little surprising.

Grade - F.  The Flyers essentially gave up Jeff Woywitka, a 1st and a 3rd for Sean Burke, Ben Eager, and Branko Radivojevic (the three players acquired for Comrie 54 days later).  This trade didn't make sense at the time and it makes even less sense now.

Second Round - Traded to Phoenix with Guillaume Lefebvre and Atlanta's 2003 3rd round pick for Tony Amonte.  This trade looks significantly better than the previous one, as the Flyers got 15 points in 13 games out of Amonte, plus 7 more in 13 playoff games that year.  The second round pick turned out to be Brandon Dubinsky, a steady contributor for the Rangers.  Two of the next three players selected after Dubinsky:  Alex Goligoski and David Krejci.  Alex Goligoski sure would look good in orange and black, but this was a good trade at the time and is still not a poor one. 

Grade - B.  Rental trades are hard to judge (this one was a deadline deal), but the Flyers didn't give up a whole lot.  Amonte was a big part of the team that lost in the second round to Ottawa, and all it took was Lefebvre, a previously acquired third-round pick, and a second-round pick that was flipped to New York.  Not bad.

Third Round - Rob Bellamy, 92nd Overall.  Bellamy had 5 points in 52 AHL games entering this year, adding 5 points in 47 games this year.  He's also not a fighter, with only 32 penalty minutes in his career.  There isn't much to say about him.  He's just not very good.  Players drafted after Bellamy:  Thomas Greiss - San Jose backup and Team Germany starting goalie - two spots back; Johan Franzen 5 spots back.

Grade - D.  This is bad, very bad.  I don't know who scouted Bellamy, but his career high in points is 18, achieved his senior year at Maine.  He's not a scorer.  The scouts completely dropped the ball on this one.  But at least they didn't give away a first-round pick for next to nothing.

Fourth Round - R.J. Anderson, 101st Overall.  Have you heard of him?  No?  Me neither.  His college career high in points was 12, with 26 career NCAA points.  He has 31 points split between two ECHL teams this year, none of which are the Flyers' affiliate.  I have no idea (nor do I care) who owns his rights.  This is a bust.  Players drafted after Anderson:  Nobody, really.  Don't recognize anybody.  But Tyler Kennedy went two spots before him.

Grade - C.  They drafted him out of high school (really?) but there wasn't anybody picked after him that was really any better.

Fourth Round - David Laliberte, 124th Overall.  Decent pick since he came up this year and potted two goals.  He put up 48 points in 78 AHL games last year and has added 37 in 50 games this year.  Definitely a pleasant surprise.  As Frank Seravalli said in his inventory, "He is a hard worker who is always buzzing in the offensive zone. His positioning is solid and he doesn’t shy away in the defensive zone. Could use some more speed to be really effective."

Grade - B.  It's too soon to give them a better grade - what has Laliberte actually done so far? - but there's only one player drafted after Laliberte I'd take over him.  Kris Versteeg was picked 10 players down, but he bounced around quite a bit before catching on in Chicago.  Good pick here, but until he shows something in the NHL, can't give more than a B.

Fifth Round - Chris Zarb (144th Overall) and Gino Pisellini (149th Overall).  Both really bad picks, but the only player selected around here worth noting is Mikhail Grabovski, drafted 150th.  He put up 48 points in 78 games last year, and he added 25 in 42 games this year.  Zarb played 4 games for the Phantoms last year while Pisellini played in 32 games in 06-07.  Nothing to write home about.

Grade - C.  It's tough to give a terrible grade when the success rate is so low down here.  I don't recognize any other player drafted in the 5th Round.  So... average sounds good.

Remaining Rounds - Ladislav Scurko (6th Round, 170); Frederik Cabana (6th Round, 171); Martin Houle (8th Round, 232); Travis Gawryletz (8th Round, 253); Triston Grant (9th Round, 286); John Carter (9th Round, 291).

Nothing to write home about here.  Cabana, Houle, and Grant are familiar names - to me at least - but nothing to write home about.  Adam Pardy was taken 173rd overall, so minor miss there.  Brandon Yip was taken 7 spots after Houle, another minor miss.  Pekka Rinne - he of the new two-year contract - was taken 258th overall, five spots behind Gawryletz.  Pretty big miss, but at this point in the draft, not even Nashville expected him to be very good. 

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The only picture of Martin Houle on the ice in a Flyers jersey I could find.  He has a career save percentage of 0.667.

 


Conclusion

This was a really, really bad draft for the Flyers.  They drafted 11 players and the best one is David Laliberte.  That's pretty much all you need to know about the draft, but there's more you should know.  Only three players made it into the NHL - Triston Grant 8 games, Laliberte 11, Martin Houle 1 - for a grand total of 20 combined NHL games played. 

What I find troubling is that the Flyers went with the "quantity over quality" argument in this draft, loading up on later round picks while going without a first or second rounder.  While we can agree that the 1st round pick was a terrible, terrible, terrible trade - seriously, picture Mike Green in orange and black - we may disagree about the 2nd round pick. 

Going forward:  this shows just how important first and second round picks are, but also just how important it is to know what to do with them.  Edmonton drafted Rob Schremp and not Mike Green.  Hell, Washington took Jeff Schultz over Mike Green.  But the question that I am left wondering:  How did the Flyers scouting department/front office bungle this draft so terribly?  Maybe they knew it would be a bad draft - seriously, it was a terrible draft - and rather risk drafting a bust in the 2nd round, they went for a ton of lower round guys hoping one of them would hit.  I'm not sure.  Either way, the team left with one marginal NHL prospect out of 11 players drafted.  That's not a good ratio.

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