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"Flight Plan" Episode 1 review: A short look inside the draft war room

What did we learn from Episode 1 of Flight Plan?

The Flyers debuted "Flight Plan," their new web video series, on Tuesday night, and the eight-minute first episode focused on the scouting staff as they prepared for this year's NHL Draft. You can watch it here.

The entire episode centered on a debate over the team's draft board, which took place the Friday before the draft at the Wingate hotel in Mount Laurel. Director of Scouting Chris Pryor led the discussion, while OHL scout Dennis Patterson, QMJHL scout Todd Hearty and WHL scout Mark Greig seemed to return the most input.

Going clockwise around the table in the room, it looks like this is the group you see: Neil Little, Todd Hearty, Mark Greig, John Paddock, Dennis Patterson, Dave Brown, Ilkka Sinisalo, Don Luce, Wade Clarke and Chris Pronger. I can't say I'm one-hundred percent certain on all of these, but it's my best guess. All are scouts except for Paddock, the director of player personnel, Brown, the head of pro scouting, and of course Pronger.

Based on the debate in the room, this was the Flyers' final ranking of prospects vs. Central Scouting's rankings, ISS Hockey's rankings and the ultimate order of selection:

Flyers order Position Actual CSS ISS
1. Nathan MacKinnon C 1 2 1
2. Seth Jones D 4 1 2
3. Jonathan Drouin LW 3 3 4
4. Elias Lindholm C 5 3 Euro 10
5. Aleksander Barkov C 2 1 Euro 3
6. Samuel Morin D 11 23 32
7. Mirco Mueller D 18 9 35
8. Nikita Zadorov D 16 22 8
9. Darnell Nurse D 7 4 6
10. Rasmus Ristolainen D 8 4 Euro 11
11. Sean Monahan C 6 5 9
12. Josh Morrissey D 13 27 21

This wasn't the order when the conversation started, though. It appeared as though the Flyers originally had Monahan and Nurse ahead of Morin before, just two days ahead of the draft, altering their draft board dramatically to what you see above.

How'd they reach this consensus? Again, Pryor led the talk while Patterson, Hearty and Greig were the one primarily leaned upon for their opinions. Pryor originally mentioned that he thought Morin should be ahead of Nurse, and from there the debate began. How did each of those CHL scouts sway the final order?

  • Hearty talked about how much he liked Morin, pointing out his "hardness" while also saying that he's "gotta get goin," an apparent knock on his NHL-readiness. Remember, that was probably the biggest concern with drafting Morin so high. He's not considered as NHL-ready as some of the others on the list. Hearty was also a proponent of taking a chance on a defenseman because "they're not perfect," but ultimately standing firm on the overall upside of Morin's game versus the other players.
  • Patterson thinks Morin "knows his game" better than Nurse, seemingly saying that Morin can see his ultimate NHL role better than Nurse. He also talked about Morin's upside over Mueller's "if he hits." "You're reaching, but he's a 6'8 guy. Where do you find these guys?" ... "I think Morin has more meanness. He will whack you with his fuckin' stick and give you that stuff." Patterson was high on Morin and went to bat for him several different times. "I don't know if he'll hit it, but he's got the most upside."
  • Greig liked Monahan over Morin. "He's a little closer to being what he is, not necessarily that down the road that matters. I like his overall package. I think he's a good two-way player. There's some reach in him but there's gonna be value whether we like him or we don't." He also had Mueller ahead of Morin, but he said that he wouldn't argue that distinction much and that he's seen Morin enough to be comfortable with the selection. Remember, Greig is the WHL guy and Mueller was a WHL player. Morin played in the Q.
  • At one point around the 6:20 mark of the video, I believe it was Greig who pointed out that "Monahan is like Couturier."
A few other notes on the decision-making process here:
  • Holmgren was ultimately the one leading the philosophy, decidingwhether or not a forward or a defenseman should be ranked higher on the list. The Monahan vs. the defensemen debate was likely settled by him based off of the clues we see in the video. But he wasn't even in the room for much of the debate about the order otherwise, leading us to believe that the GM is mostly letting his scouts call the shots with the nitty, gritty this player vs. that player stuff.
  • Greig talked about how the CHL scouting process works. He, as the WHL scout, will see the top-ranked WHL players eight to 13 times during a season, and the "crossover" scouts from the OHL and the Q will make trips and see those guys three to five times. After compiling all of that information, they make their overall evaluation on a player.
  • I thought it was extremely interesting that nobody from the coaching staff -- as far as we can tell -- was in the room. Does Peter Laviolette have any say into which player the Flyers select with their first round pick? He was at the draft table on draft day, of course, but not in the room on this day.

In the end, it seems as though the draft went pretty well for the Flyers. They settled on Morin as the top non-Seth Jones defenseman in the draft while other teams ranked Nurse and Ristolainen higher. If the Flyers had selected seventh, for example, where the Oilers selected Nurse, it appears as though Morin would have been their pick regardless.

The first episode of Flight Plan was a bit short, but after parsing everything that was said, we still learned a lot about the team's decision-making process. It's easy to read into what we saw either positively or negatively, but remember ... this is only eight minutes long and it's basically only one little conversation. There's still a lot we didn't get to see, but hey, it's better than nothing.

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