Realistic Value of Mid-To-Late Round Draft Pick Returns for the Flyers

Based on the specific history of the last 25 years of Flyers amateur draft choices, we can gain some insight on the realistic expected value of mid-to-late round draft picks to the Flyers. For the purpose of this analysis, the definition of a mid-to-late round draft pick is any pick from the fourth through seventh rounds as the entry draft is now limited to just seven rounds. Prior to 2005, the entry draft extended beyond seven rounds, but the results from those picks doesn’t change this analysis in any meaningful way as the only of the Flyers pick in rounds eight or later in the past 25 years to play a dozen or more NHL games was Bruno St. Jacques who skated in just 67 career NHL games.

Currently, the Flyers have four mid-to-late round draft picks in the 2022 draft: one each in the fourth round (overall pick #101), the fifth round (pick #133), sixth round (pick #165), and seventh round (pick #197). Using the past 25 years of Flyers history of mid-to-late round draft selections as our guide, assuming the Flyers use these picks to select players rather than flipping them in a trade, the reasonable expected return to the Flyers from these mid-to-late round draft picks is negligible.

When Used on Goaltenders

In the past 25 years of drafts, that is from 1997-2021, the Flyers have used fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh round picks on goaltenders 19 times. Of these, 15 never even reached the NHL and another 2 played just one NHL regular season game each (Jeremy Duchesne and Joakim Eriksson). The only netminders to actually stick in the NHL for any meaningful period were Roman Cechmanek and Antero Niittymaki.

Cechmanek was an odd draft choice as he was already 29 years old and an established professional from European leagues at the time the Flyers drafted him. He would go on to two top 10 Vezina finishes plus a Jennings Trophy win in his three seasons with the Flyers before being traded due to his mercurial personality not meshing with his teammates. He played one more year after that with the L.A. Kings to bring his NHL total regular season games played to 212. At 29 years of age under current NHL draft rules, though, he would not need to be drafted before the Flyers signed him. After attaining 21 years of age, he would become eligible to be signed as an amateur free agent.

Niittymaki played 234 NHL regular season games in a largely pedestrian NHL career across three NHL franchises.

Three recent mid-to-late round Flyers picks are still active and have the potential to make the NHL at some point: 2019 sixth rounder Roddy Ross, 2018 fifth rounder Samuel Ersson, and, most notably, 2015 seventh rounder Ivan Fedotov who could challenge for the NHL backup role as soon as this upcoming season.

So, overall there has historically been about a 10% chance of the Flyers selecting an NHL worthy goaltender with a mid-to-late round draft choice but that falls to about a 5% chance once adjusting for the current draft eligibility rules by excluding Cechmanek from the analysis.

When Used on Defensemen

The Flyers have used mid-to-late round picks to select a defensemen 34 times in the past 25 years. 28 of these selections never played an NHL game and only one played more than 26 NHL games: 2001 sixth rounder Dennis Seidenberg who had a solid NHL career with over 850 NHL games played and even garnered some down ballot Norris Trophy votes one season.

So, in sum, historically there has been less than a 5% chance of the Flyers finding an NHL worthy defender with mid-to-late round draft picks.

When Used on Forwards

The Flyers have selected 56 forwards with mid-to-late round picks in the past 25 years. 34 of these players never made it to the NHL and another 18 never reached 100 NHL games played. This leaves only four to have any sort of substantial NHL careers: long since retired 1997 seventh round enforcer Todd "Fridge" Fedoruk, 2007 power forward sixth rounder Patrick Maroon, 2008 sixth round enforcer Zac Rinaldo, and 2014 fifth rounder and current Flyer Oscar Lindblom.

Todd Fedoruk had a nine-year NHL career across six NHL franchises where he filled an enforcer role (97 career NHL points with 1,050 career NHL penalty minutes and never averaging over 11 minutes of ice time per game).

Zac Rinaldo has a career NHL enforcer stat line very similar to Fridge’s with 42 NHL points and 758 PIM across five franchises over nine seasons. He may still be "somewhat active" having effectively been suspended by the Columbus Blue Jackets for the entire 2021-22 season due to his refusal to get the COVID vaccine. Whether he plays in the NHL ever again is iffy at best.

Patrick Maroon is, of course, still playing and vying for a third consecutive Stanley Cup in a "depth role" with the Lightning. Notably, Maroon’s entire NHL career took place well after the Flyers traded him due to some "maturity issues" he had while with the Phantoms.

So, about 5% of these mid-to-late round forward picks have stuck in the NHL with just two in the past 25 years playing outside of an "enforcer" role.

Mid-To-Late Round Draft Pick Value Conclusion

If history is any guide, it is improbable that the Flyers will recognize any NHL value from a player the Flyers draft in the mid-to-late rounds. Of 109 such picks the Flyers have made over the past 25 years, only six have had NHL careers of 100 or more games – not quite one every four years. Even at that, the time for these players to develop can reasonably be expected to be longer than for earlier round picks, meaning any near-term value at the NHL level from mid-to-late round picks is essentially nil.

This item was written by a member of this community and is not necessarily endorsed by <em>Broad Street Hockey</em>.