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Evaluating how Bob McKenzie’s draft rankings impact the Flyers

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Bobby Margaritas has emerged from his shell like a cicada to give a look at this draft class.

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Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Bob McKenzie released his midseason draft rankings today, and they contained some interesting tidbits. There were players who were ranked shockingly high (Sebastian Cossa of the Edmonton Oil Kings), surprisingly low (Aatu Räty, the Finnish forward formerly hyped to be the crown jewel of this class), and confidently within consensus (Dylan Guenther and Matthew Beniers). For anyone who isn’t a #insiderrrr, this list is incredibly useful; McKenzie has been quite accurate historically and usually reflects the draft boards that teams around the league have. So, as Flyers fans, what exactly do these rankings mean?

If the Flyers lose out, what would happen?

Philadelphia is currently 18th in points percentage in the league, with St. Louis, Arizona, Vancouver, Calgary, San Jose and Los Angeles technically within reach. Even if the Flyers went on an eleven game regulation losing streak to end the year, an event of microscopic probability, they’d finish the year with a record of 20-29-7 and a .420 points percentage (haha, weed). That would be better than five other teams, assuming that everybody else played .500 hockey. The point here is that Philly fans need to stop rooting for the team to lose with a top five pick in mind; the odds of such a jump are astronomical.

NHL lottery odds as of April 19th, 2021.
Image via tankathon.com

The Flyers will have some good names to choose from, assuming the draft order goes exactly the way McKenzie has mapped it out (hint, it won’t). Stanislav Svozil, Samu Tuomaala, Samuel Helenius and Logan Stankoven are all players who are decidedly ranked below what their talents ought to command, especially in a weaker draft class like this one. Stankoven in particular is a guy who would be my ideal pick in the second round.

Why aren’t you talking about the Flyers’ first round pick?

Well, that’s because I’m under the assumption that Chuck Fletcher wants to keep his job, and as such will move his first rounder in a package to add a key player, most likely a number one defenseman. All that the Flyers losing does is elevate the value of that pick by small increments, with the most likely future outcome being that Philly selects 12th (as projected by Dom Luszczyszyn’s expected win percentage model). Now, the 12th overall pick will have considerable value, but this should dissuade the fans I’ve seen in our comments who think Luke Hughes or Brandt Clarke are within easy reach. Put simply, the Flyers will need to win the lottery in order to add a cornerstone piece through the draft, and that’s the only reasonable circumstance where Chuck Fletcher should keep the first rounder.

There’s also the fact that while NHL GMs will likely claim otherwise on draft day, this is an extremely weak class whose concerns were exacerbated by the pandemic’s effects on junior league play. Just by comparing within Byron Bader’s NHLe model, an imperfect system that gives rough percentage projections based upon a number of factors like age, junior league, and production, there’s a clear dichotomy between even the 2020 draft and the 2021 draft, especially at the top. I sorted by star probability, and these were the results.

Image via Byron Bader, Hockey Prospecting
Image via Byron Bader, Hockey Prospecting

The main takeaway from McKenzie’s ranking that you ought to be excited about is this: a goalie-needy team might be willing to trade up to Philadelphia’s pick for the chance to take Sebastian Cossa. I’m going to quote McKenzie here:

While Wallstedt is TSN’s No. 1 ranked goalie, 6-foot-6 Edmonton Oil King goaltender Sebastian Cossa is very much in that conversation mix. Cossa is No. 14 on our list, though two of the scouts surveyed by TSN ranked Cossa ahead of Wallstedt.

Teams are that high on Cossa; Wallstedt has been hyped as one of the two best goalie prospects in recent memory, billed as potentially being even better than 2020’s Iaroslav Askarov, who went 11th overall in a stacked draft class. In this weak group, don’t be shocked if there’s a bidding war amongst teams that want to trade up to the fringes of the top 10 for a crack at a netminder of the future.

So, should I stop being excited for draft day?

Absolutely not. As I said before, the Flyers will likely get a chance to take multiple players that I and many others have a true first-round grade on in the second round. There are always surprises, like last year’s fall of Jacob Perreault, Marat Khusnutdinov, Noel Gunther, and John-Jason Peterka. Be sure to follow along here at BSH as things ramp up for the offseason, and if you’re starved for draft content, go check out SB Nation NHL’s talented writers elsewhere as well. I know On The Forecheck’s Eric D has been putting out premium stuff for some time, including his top 32 players as of April 16th.