Analysis of Flyers draft picks, 2004 to 2009, shows frightening results

I wonder where this jersey is now. (Photo by Getty Images)

The news over the weekend that the Philadelphia Flyers have lost two more prospects for nothing -- goaltender Nic Riopel and forward Dave Labrecque, both 2009 draft picks -- is just the latest example of organizational failings when it comes to prospects.

We've been over it a number of times: in the salary cap era, you need to develop young talent. Young players are cheap and vital to success when there's a limit on how much money you can spend.

Why do we think Andreas Nodl is so important on the Flyers? He's young, he plays huge defensive minutes and can occasionally chip in on offense. The Flyers could go sign Saku Koivu, who has similar numbers, to replace Nodl's minutes, no big deal. Minus the nearly $2 million difference in cap hit.



GP TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel QoT G/60 A1/60 A2/60 P/G0 GF/60 GA/60 Corsi Rel PDO OZ% Cap
Nodl 67 12.26 0.88 1.71 0.66 0.51 0.29 1.46 2.56 1.68 -0.9 1025 43.8 850000
Koivu 75 14.33 0.88 1.64 0.61 0.45 0.5 1.56 2.57 2.9 -3.1 1008 41.3 2500000
Dupuis 81 13.39 0.83 1.33 0.72 0.55 0.39 1.66 2.71 2.16 -9.2 1018 48.9 1400000

Or, they could go get Pascal Dupuis. Same thing, double the cap hit.

If there were no cap, the Flyers could just go sign Brad Richards this summer, trade James van Riemsdyk and a 2012 first round pick for Roberto Luongo and all of our problems would be solved. Well, we're not in that world anymore. Stuff like that isn't even conceivable.

It's ever-important to have fresh young talent in the pipeline, and the only way to do that effectively and consistently is through the draft. That's why we're all concerned with the Flyers losing prospects for nothing. It's just more evidence that since 2004, the Flyers have done almost nothing with the draft. It's the sole reason this situation exists.

I put together this chart of the Flyers draft picks between 2004 and 2009. Why those years? 2003 was a wildly successful draft for the Flyers (and most teams that had a first round pick -- we had two), but after that is really when the downturn and the lack of emphasis on the draft began. We're leaving 2010 out as well because it's just so recent that we don't know how any of the players are going to pan out (and all of them are still Flyers property regardless since it hasn't even been a full year yet.

Here's the code for this table: players in GRAY are no longer in the Flyers organization. Players in RED are completely out of hockey. Players in GREEN are NHL players drafted by the Flyers who aren't with the organization anymore.

Players in ORANGE are still with the organization and have a hope of becoming impact players with the Flyers. Players in purple are in the organization but have little to no hope of sticking with the big club at any point. We'll provide reasons for that afterward.

Not surprisingly, you're seeing a lot of gray here. 

Year Rd Pick Player Pos. 2010-11 Team League 2011-12 Status
2004 3 92 Rob Bellamy RW Nottingham Panthers EIHL (UK)
2004 4 101 R. J. Anderson D Binghamton Senators AHL
2004 4 124 David Laliberte RW Providence Bruins AHL
2004 5 144 Chris Zarb D Dundee Stars EIHL (UK)
2004 5 149 Gino Pisellini RW Wheeling Nailers ECHL
2004 6 170 Ladislav Scurko C prison, murdered a referee
2004 6 171 Frederik Cabana C Ravensburg Tower Stars 2nd Tier (Germany)
2004 8 232 Martin Houle G Riviere du Loup 3L LNAH (Quebec)
2004 8 253 Travis Gawryletz D Lake Erie Monsters AHL
2004 9 286 Triston Grant LW Rochester Americans AHL
2004 9 291 John Carter C

Year Rd Pick Player Pos. 2010-11 Team League 2011-12 Status
2005 1 29 Steve Downie RW Tampa Bay Lightning NHL
2005 3 91 Oskars Bartulis D Philadelphia Flyers NHL Signed
2005 4 119 Jeremy Duchesne G St. Georges CRS Express LNAH (Quebec)
2005 5 152 Josh Beaulieu C Rapid City Rush CHL
2005 6 174 John Flatters D

2005 7 215 Matt Clackson RW Adirondack Phantoms AHL UFA
Year Rd Pick Player Pos. 2010-11 Team League 2011-12 Status
2006 1 22 Claude Giroux RW Philadelphia Flyers NHL Signed
2006 2 39 Andreas Nodl RW Philadelphia Flyers NHL RFA
2006 2 42 Mike Ratchuk D Fort Wayne Komets CHL
2006 2 55 Denis Bodrov D Moscow Spartak KHL
2006 3 79 Jon Matsumoto C Charlotte Checkers AHL
2006 4 101 Joonas Lehtivuori D Kalpa SM-Liiga (Finland)
2006 4 109 Jakub Kovar G Ceske Budejovice Czech
2006 5 145 Jon Rheault RW Abbotsford Heat AHL
2006 6 175 Michael Dupont G

2006 7 205 Andrei Popov RW Chelyabinsk Traktor KHL
Year Rd Pick Player Pos. 2010-11 Team League 2011-12 Status
2007 1 2 James van Riemsdyk LW Philadelphia Flyers NHL Signed
2007 2 41 Kevin Marshall D Adirondack Phantoms AHL Signed
2007 3 66 Garrett Klotz LW Bloomington PrairieThunder CHL RFA
2007 5 122 Mario Kempe RW Djurgardens IF SEL (Sweden)
2007 6 152 Jon Kalinski LW Adirondack Phantoms AHL RFA
2007 6 161 Patrick Maroon LW Syracuse Crunch AHL
2007 7 182 Brad Phillips G Bloomington PrairieThunder CHL
Year Rd Pick Player Pos. 2010-11 Team League 2011-12 Status
2008 1 19 Luca Sbisa D Anaheim Ducks NHL
2008 3 67 Marc-Andre Bourdon D Adirondack Phantoms AHL Signed
2008 3 84 Jacob DeSerres G Saint John Sea Dogs QMJHL
2008 6 178 Zac Rinaldo C Adirondack Phantoms AHL Signed
2008 7 196 Joacim Eriksson G Skelleftea HC SEL (Sweden)
Year Rd Pick Player Pos. 2010-11 Team League 2011-12 Status
2009 3 81 Adam Morrison G Saskatoon Blades WHL
2009 3 87 Simon Bertilsson D Brynas IF SEL (Sweden)
2009 5 142 Nicola Riopel G Greenville Road Warriors ECHL
2009 5 153 Dave Labrecque C Shawinigan Catarctes QMJHL
2009 5 172 Eric Wellwood LW Adirondack Phantoms AHL Signed
2009 7 196 Oliver Lauridsen D Adirondack Phantoms AHL Signed

The numbers: 45 total picks between 2004 and 2009. 34 of them are out of the organization completely, of which two are in the NHL on other clubs, four are completely out of hockey and one is in prison for murdering an official.

That leaves 11 players who are still controlled by the Flyers organization, of the 45 total draft picks between '04 and '09. That is just silly bad. Let's break down those players by draft year.

2004

None. Not one player selected by the Flyers in the '04 Draft is still in the organization.

2005

Oskars Bartulis: one of the four players since '04 to become a regular on the Flyers roster, and can we even really call it that? We all love Oskars around here, but he's at absolute best a No. 6 NHL defenseman. 

Worth noting that the Flyers also selected Steve Downie this year. Can't bust 'em for that, he turned into Matt Carle (eventually). 

2006

Claude Giroux: Yep.

Andreas Nodl: Okay.

2007

James van Riemsdyk: We all know it should've been Patrick Kane, but ultimately, I think we can safely say we're happy with this pick. They didn't take Kyle Turris, thank God.

Kevin Marshall: the abundance of NHL talent on the blueline has allowed the Flyers to give Marshall time to develop, and it does look as though it's paying off. Marshall could be NHL ready sooner rather than later, but he's one of just a handful of draftees in this period who haven't already cracked the NHL that still has a chance. 

Garrett Klotz: Klotz played most of this season in Indiana with the CHL's Bloomington PrairieThunder. He's an RFA this July 1 and I wouldn't expect the Flyers to send him a qualifying offer. He's not worked out, plain and simple. 

Jon Kalinski: Kalinski had potential and made a lot of billboards in the Philadelphia area thanks to Virtua Health, but this past season he was passed over by undrafted guys like Mike Testwuide and Ben Holmstrom. He's had attitude problems as well, and he's basically missed his shot at the Flyers. An RFA, he also might not get a qualifying offer.

2008

Luca Sbisa was drafted in '08, the last time the Flyers had a first round pick. He (and another pick) turned into Chris Pronger, so it wasn't completely worthless for the team. Again, worth noting. 

Marc-Andre Bourdon: Bourdon still has an outside chance of making the Flyers in time. He definitely took a step backwards this past year thanks to an injury and he's behind Marshall and undrafted Erik Gustafsson when it comes to the depth chart. Even if he does make it, you can't imagine him being any better than a No. 5 guy, tops. 

Zac Rinaldo: I can't believe he's on the list, but he's on the list. Rinaldo does apparently have some hands somewhere in his repertoire, but the guy is completely unhinged and pretty reckless on the ice. He can make the NHL solely based on that (and remember, he played in a f'ing playoff game this year based on that) but his skill will never show at the NHL level. 

2009

Eric Wellwood: He's the best prospect in the organization now. He's speedy and quick and has good hands, but he's no future star in the making or anything. Not that we should look down on Wellwood at all -- he is what he is and that's not a bad thing -- but the fact that he's the best we have in the cupboard is less than ideal.

Oliver Lauridsen: Lauridsen joined the Phantoms late this season after his college career ended with St. Cloud State, but he only played a handful of games before getting hurt. He's signed for two more seasons, but we listed him in purple for several reasons: chief among them, he has at least three guys ahead of him on the depth chart right now. An NHL future with the Flyers is going to be tough for him. 

***

And that's it. To find a true impact player that's been drafted by the Flyers, you need to go back to 2007 and James van Riemsdyk. We'll be generous and say that four players they've drafted since 2004 have been impact players on the Flyers, plus Luca Sbisa and Steve Downie.

So, a total of six impact draftees out of 46 total players drafted. Six in six years might sound okay, but also remember how lightly we're using the term impact. We called Oskars Bartulis an impact player. 

There's potential for three or four others still, but none of them will become Danny Briere or Claude Giroux or JvR or even Ville Leino. We're talking depth guys. In six years of drafting, that's just unacceptable. Plain and simple. 

The cupboard is bare and there's not much hope for it filling up any time soon. The draft has been an essentially useless tool for the Flyers for six, probably seven including 2010 and potentially even eight years depending on how 2011 goes. 

Perhaps we could equate the Philadelphia Flyers farm system to the life of George Costanza.

Yep. That's kind of how it is. 

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