The Philadelphia Flyers have nine draft picks in next week’s 2019 NHL Entry Draft. They entered the offseason with ten, but general manager Chuck Fletcher decided to flip a fifth-round pick to the Winnipeg Jets for Kevin Hayes’ signing rights in an attempt to fill a roster need. In his pre-draft press conference yesterday with assistant general manager Brent Flahr, Fletcher addressed the possibility of moving the team’s highest pick in this draft to possibly fill another roster need.
Fletcher on possibility of trading the No.11 pick: "It's early. I've mentioned to teams that we're in play but there hasn't been a big push for the pick yet. If we keep it & stay at 11, we're going to get a good player...It's certainly a good chip that if moved, it could help."— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) June 10, 2019
It was a pretty straightforward answer. It is a little interesting that Fletcher flat out said that there hasn’t been a big push to acquire the pick, but that could just be his way of letting fans and media know there’s a decent probability that it’ll be his club drafting at eleven. What’s noteworthy here is he was asked about moving the selection, an idea that has been a topic of discussion among Flyers’ fans for most if not all the offseason. I talked about what the team could get if they wanted to move the pick (by itself or in a package) and Kyle laid out a solid argument as to why the franchise needs to move it. With a pretty big hole still in the team’s top nine and Fletcher’s previous mentions of adding a top-four defenseman, it’s not hard to see how the pick might be dealt. After Ron Hextall’s tenure as general manager, where the idea of trading a first-round pick would have never been an option, and a desire from the fans to start competing next season the idea of dealing the pick to help fill another hole on the team currently makes sense.
What also happened in yesterday’s press conference was Flahr talked about the depth of a certain position he hopes the organization will add to next week (via the team’s website):
“This draft is a little unique... especially the top 15, I think there are a number of different types of players, which is interesting... The way we look at it, we will take the best player at 11. I think as we go in the draft, we have some young defensemen that are in the NHL right now, and a couple coming, but we probably like to add defensemen depth to our organization going forward, whether it’s at 11 or the second or third round, we will see.”
There are plenty of talented defensemen in this year’s draft who are expected to be taken near eleventh overall. Philip Broberg, Thomas Harley, and Moritz Seider are a few names being mocked to teams just outside the top ten. Regardless of whether or not Fletcher takes one of these names or any other name at eleven, the player taken is most likely not going to impact the NHL roster for at least a season or two. That isn’t exactly an exciting option, but if Philly selects the right player they can play an important role on the team while on an inexpensive entry-level contract. Teams that win are efficient in finding ways to get above-average play out of players who are being underpaid by a fair amount. The easiest way to manufacture these contract situations if you’re a general manager is by drafting and developing well. As we saw with his handling of Carter Hart this past season, Fletcher doesn’t seem too worried about bringing kids up to see how they perform at the NHL level. If the team is actually in a situation to make a run at the Stanley Cup over the next few seasons, the player taken with the eleventh overall may provide strong play in the top six or on the first or second pair with a cap hit under $1 million.
By next Friday night we’ll know whether or not Fletcher and company decided to deal the pick for a top-four defenseman or a top-nine forward, or if he decided to hang on to the selection and add to the organization’s prospect pool. Until then, let’s decide amongst ourselves what the Flyers should do in the first round.
Should the Flyers trade the eleventh overall pick?
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