We discussed last week the rumors that the Philadelphia Flyers might move up in Friday, and to be honest it seemed a little far-fetched. It seemed just ... too easy of a rumor. Like the Edmonton-based guys who first brought it up were just throwing a wild idea at the wall with hopes that it would stick.
People always think the Flyers are going to do something crazy, but it just seems too crazy to move all the way up to the No. 1 pick with the draft in your own building.
But a week later, we have more people talking about it. This time it's CBC's Elliotte Friedman, one of the most plugged-in and reputable hockey reporters out there. From his weekly "30 Thoughts" column:
3. As we head towards Philadelphia, site of Draft Smorgasbord 2014, who are the teams to watch? Well, Florida is atop the list, because of its willingness to separate itself from the first overall selection. Other teams don't believe GM Dale Tallon will make his final decision until Thursday night, so there might be a lull beforehand. Why show your best offer on Tuesday when it might not matter for 48 hours?
12. Finally, there's Philadelphia. It would be a surprise if the Flyers, hosts of this draft, did not at least inquire about what it would take to get near the top -- if not right at it. This is a franchise unafraid to take bold swings.
Moving to the top of the draft would be fun. I still worry about what it would cost, and my opinion on whether or not it'd be worth it is solely dependant on what the cost would be -- something that's literally impossible to know right now. All indications are that Florida is willing to shop that top pick and there are several teams interested, so it could be pricey. But there's really no way for us to know what the cost will be until the deal actually goes down, and it's hard to gauge feelings on a potential deal as a result.
Man, though ... that'd be a hell of a way to kick off Ron Hextall's tenure as general manager, wouldn't it? He's talked about building from within and using draft picks in a smart way. Grabbing and using a top five or even top 10 pick would be a pretty strong way to send that message.
For the record, Aaron Ekblad would be a really, really great pickup for the Flyers on defense. Really great. Here's what ISS Hockey says about him:
Ekblad may not have the dynamic flair of some former first overall picks but he is close to a sure thing as you will find in this year’s draft. A physically and mentally mature inpidual who possesses great poise to his game. Ekblad has consistently proven he not only belongs but excels when faced against older players. He has the ability to jump into a NHL lineup as early as this fall. He is a consistent performer who has fared well this season despite the heavy scrutiny and microscope of being near the top of the rankings since the season started. ISS #1 defenseman has the hands, feet, head, and intangibles that make him a potential corner piece on the back end for his NHL club.
And here's what McKeen's says about him:
Ekblad is a man amongst boys and is a highly coveted right-handed defenseman .. presents the most physically ready player for the NHL next season.
He is an NHL-ready 18 year old defenseman. He is going to be a good NHL player. He doesn't need much development. He's not going to step in this coming season and play 20 minutes a night, but in two or three years he can and likely will absolutely be that guy. It might be worth the price given the Flyers current position and outlook on defense. Let's see if Hextall decides to pay it.