As the general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, Ron Hextall was very focused on drafting and expanding the team’s prospect pool. Although it wasn’t too exciting, everyone knew that more likely than not Hextall was going to keep the picks he had going into the draft if not find ways to increase that total number of picks. Over the five NHL Entry Drafts where Hextall ran the show, the Flyers selected in the first round eight times. With a new general manager and seemingly a new mindset in place, perhaps Chuck Fletcher and company may want to buck this trend in an attempt to show that things have changed with the franchise. If Fletcher does decide to trade the team’s first-round pick at this year’s Entry Draft, what could the Flyers be getting in return?
In an attempt to take a realistic look at this option, let’s take a look at times a high-end pick has been dealt in recent history. Thanks to CapFriendly’s trade history page, we are able to find all the deals that have been made the weekend of or in the days leading up to an NHL Entry Draft. Since the Philadelphia Flyers would be giving up a pick that isn’t one of the very best in the draft but also isn’t barely in the first round, a look at trades where the sixth overall selection to the 16th overall selection were trades that seem like a fair comparison.
Going back to the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, there have been 27 deals where the sixth overall selection to the 16th overall selection have been dealt. Now again, in an attempt to try and give a realistic look at what the Flyers are working with, some of these 27 deals wouldn’t be a fair comparison. A few of the trades involved a deal being made at the NHL Entry Draft the year before either team knew what the final selection would be, such as the Brayden Schenn deal (both teams knew Philly was getting the 27th overall selection in 2017, but neither knew the 2018 selection would be the 14th overall). The Pavel Datsyuk deal to the Arizona Coyotes at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft also doesn’t relate to the Flyers’ current situation. If we also take away all the deals that were a 6th overall to 16th overall being moved for more picks (because I’m sure nobody wants the analysis of ‘hey, they can get picks with this pick’), we’re looking at ten deals where a pick has been moved for a roster player since the draft 13 years ago.
Trading the 6th to 11th overall
|Draft||Team trading pick||Traded to||What they gave up||What they got|
|Draft||Team trading pick||Traded to||What they gave up||What they got|
|2017||Arizona Coyotes||New York Rangers||7th overall (Lias Andersson) and Anthony DeAngelo||Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta|
|2015||Edmonton Oilers||New York Islanders||16th overall (Mathew Barzal) and 33rd overall (Mitchell Stephens)||Griffin Reinhart|
|2015||Los Angeles Kings||Boston Bruins||Martin Jones, Colin Miller, and 13th overall (Jakub Zboril)||Milan Lucic|
|2015||Calgary Flames||Boston Bruins||15th overall (Zach Senyshyn), 45th overall (Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson), and 52nd overall (Jeremy Lauzon)||Dougie Hamilton|
|2013||New Jersey Devils||Vancouver Canucks||9th overall (Bo Horvat)||Cory Schneider|
|2012||Carolina Hurricanes||Pittsburgh Penguins||Brian Dumoulin, Brandon Sutter, and 8th overall (Derrick Pouliot)||Jordan Staal|
|2011||Columbus Blue Jackets||Philadelphia Flyers||Jakub Voracek, 8th overall (Sean Couturier), and 68th overall (Nick Cousins)||Jeff Carter|
|2010||Ottawa Senators||St. Louis Blues||16th overall (Vladimir Tarasenko)||David Rundblad|
|2007||Toronto Maple Leafs||San Jose Sharks||13th overall (Lars Eller), 44th overall (Aaron Palushaj), and 2009 98th overall (Craig Smith)||Vesa Toskala and Mark Bell|
|2006||Minnesota Wild||Los Angeles Kings||Patrick O'Sullivan and 17th overall (Trevor Lewis)||Pavol Demitra|
As is tradition, let’s take a second to laugh at the Edmonton Oilers and the Ottawa Senators. With that out of the way, when looking at the history of how it’s worked out for teams trading the high-end pick the results are a mixed bag. Fletcher has only made a trade involving a sixth overall to 16th overall selection at the draft once, but I think it’s fair to say he wouldn’t make a Griffin Reinhart/Vladimir Tarasenko type move at this year’s draft.
Speaking of the Tarasenko deal, that trade and when the Vancouver Canucks traded Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils to draft Bo Horvat ninth overall at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft are the only two of these ten deals that saw a strictly player-for-pick deal. In the other eight deals, the team trading the pick is trading it with another asset to acquire the more proven commodity. That was the case in the most recent example of this type of trade back at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, when the Arizona Coyotes dealt Anthony DeAngelo and the seventh overall pick (which the New York Rangers used to select Lias Andersson) to the Rangers for Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta. Even though they had the advantage of working with a seventh overall selection and not the 11th, general manager John Chayka was still able to turn his high-end pick and a 21-year-old 2014 first-round pick with 39 games of NHL experience under his belt into a second-line center on most teams and a starting goalie that just happened to be backup on his former team. Chayka was also wise to also target a team that was heading into a rebuild.
This is a fair trade to reference when looking at the Flyers’ position based on the fact that if Fletcher actually does The Thing it will most likely result in a second-line center coming back in the deal for Philly. Again, the Flyers don’t quite have a pick as high as the seventh overall, but they aren’t looking to add both a second-line center and a potential starting goalie for years to come. Unfortunately, some of the rebuilding teams it would make sense for the Orange and Black to work with on a deal are within the division and it doesn’t seem too likely an NHL general manager would want to trade a roster player for a first-round pick within the division.
Looking at a few teams outside the division that should be thinking rebuild and want to clear cap space (Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators, and Vancouver Canucks), there are technically some options for second-line center or top-four defenseman. The Ducks are paying Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf over $8 million each season and Ryan Kesler nearly $7 million, so grabbing Adam Henrique or one of Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, or Josh Manson could result in a player coming to Philly solely as cap relief for Anaheim. The Red Wings now have Steve Yzerman running the show, so Fletcher won’t be stealing Dylan Larkin or Andreas Athanasiou from him anytime soon. Frans Nielsen, Darren Helm, and the entire Red Wings’ blue line aren’t worth acquiring with the 11th. Thanks to the Yzerman hire, former Detroit general manager Ken Holland has become the Edmonton Oilers’ general manager. Looking at his recent work with the Red Wings, perhaps Fletcher may be able to talk Holland into dealing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins while retaining some his of his $6 million cap hit over the next two seasons. There aren’t any pieces from the other three aforementioned clubs that should require the 11th overall in a deal that would make any of us excited for next season.
There are other avenues to work the pick into a deal that brings the Flyers an above-average roster player for next season and the best way to go about that might be what the Calgary Flames did a few seasons ago to acquire Dougie Hamilton. With the Boston Bruins looking to deal Hamilton, the Flames dealt a 2015 first-round pick and a pair of 2015 second-round picks to general manager Don Sweeney instead of attempting to offer sheet the d-man. In the summer of 2015 a package of a team’s first, second, and third-round picks would have been the compensation for giving a restricted free agent a deal with a cap hit of $5,478,987 to $7,305,316, which is what the Flames signed Hamilton for that summer. One may ask why Calgary would make that offer considering they’d lose a pair of second-round picks rather than a second and third, but when you think of how much general managers lose their shit over offer sheets providing a similar package to the team possibly losing the player and letting them make the decision is probably the smarter idea.
This is how the Flyers should approach acquiring Jacob Trouba. Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Winnipeg Jets are projected to have $23,872,503 in cap space this offseason, but both Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor are coming off entry-level contracts while they only have seven forwards and four defensemen are under contract for next season. Pair that with the fact it doesn’t seem like Trouba is going to make Cheveldayoff’s life any easier and the American rearguard could be in the Orange and Black next season at the right price.
The Jets aren’t the only talented team who will possibly need to cut ties with young, high-end skaters this summer due to cap concerns. The Toronto Maple Leafs are projected to have $5,265,301 in cap space for next season, but the trio of Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen, and Andreas Johnsson are restricted free agents (and would all look good in a Flyers’ uniform). It also doesn’t help that Auston Matthews’ cap hit jumps from $925,000 this season to $11,634,000 next season. With nine forwards and five defensemen under contract, perhaps Kyle Dubas will be listening to offers on the three skilled forwards mentioned above (the first option isn’t likely, but the latter two aren’t crazy), Nazem Kadri (three more years at $4.5 million cap hit), or Jake Muzzin (a stretch due to how much he gave up to get Muzzin this season, but Dubas may be forced to move his one remaining year at $4 million if other things don’t go Toronto’s way).
The Tampa Bay Lightning are another team with a ton of talent and a cap problem. Projected to have $5,076,669 in cap space for next season, general manager Julien Brisebois has Brayden Point, a 23-year-old forward who potted 41 goals and produced 92 points this past season, coming off an entry-level deal. They also have Nikita Kucherov’s and Yanni Gourde’s cap hits increasing by over $4 million from this season to next. With only three other restricted free agents at the NHL level (including our buddy Danick Martel) and three defensemen becoming free agents (including our other buddy Braydon Coburn), Brisebois may need to deal one of his forwards. Considering position and cap hit, Tyler Johnson seems like a piece the Lightning could be open to moving.
There’s a pretty good chance Fletcher will hang on to the 11th overall pick. However, if he does want to change the trend of what the Flyers have done recently at the NHL Entry Draft, these might be realistic deals Fletcher is looking at if he’s contemplating dealing the first-round pick.
*Stats and info courtesy of CapFriendly, Hockey Reference, and NHL.com