FanPost

What The Flyers Should Do With Their Mid-To-Late Round Draft Picks


A review of the specific history of the last 25 years of Flyers mid-to-late round entry draft choices shows that they are of very little value to the Flyers in terms of acquiring players for the NHL roster (see Realistic Value of Mid-To-Late Round Draft Pick Returns for the Flyers - Broad Street Hockey). 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). If the Flyers do not use these picks to select players to develop into NHL’ers, then there are some other options including:

  • Trading the picks for prospects or current NHL Players. While theoretically enticing, the odds of the Flyers acquiring an impact player by trading mid-to-late round draft picks seem remote
  • Using the picks as enticements for salary cap relief. Just this week, Dallas ridded themselves of the injured Ben Bishop and his roughly $5 million cap hit for the price of a seventh round selection. As the Flyers have indicated that they are in a "retooling rather than rebuilding" phase, this should probably be the first option for the team in regards to any contracts they might want to shed. Note that JVR carries a cap hit for one more year at $7 million but only has actual pay due to him of $5 million with $1 million of that being payable as a signing bonus payment rather than in-season salary. So, if the Flyers wait to trade him after the signing bonus is due in July, then the acquiring team will only be responsible for $4 million in actual salary payments. Unlike with the injured Bishop, there are likely to be no insurance payments to pay JVR’s salary, though, however JVR is also still a positive NHL producer who has scored goals at a pace of over 20 per 82 games for each of the past 12 seasons. Again, though, the Flyers will realistically have only very limited opportunities to make any of these types of trades.
  • Trading current year mid-to-late round picks for earlier round future picks. At face value, this seems to be the most practical option. The general rule of thumb is that a current year mid-to-late round pick is valued as being equivalent to a pick one round earlier in the next subsequent draft year. That is, the rough value of a 2022 6th rounder would be a 2023 5th rounder, a 2022 5th rounder would be valued at about a 2023 4th rounder, etc. This is where the Flyers should be aggressively looking to make deals. With the limited value the Flyers have seen from players they have selected in these draft positions, they should package the picks to angle for higher round picks in upcoming drafts even if it means "overpaying" relative to the historical norms. This would look something like packaging the 2022 4th and 7th round picks for a 2023 2nd or 3rd round pick and, separately, packaging the 2022 5th and 6th round picks for a 2024 3rd round pick.

How To Fill Out Organizational Depth

If the Flyers don’t draft players with these picks, it does raise an issue of how to fill out the organizational depth from the perspectives of both fielding competitive minor league squads as well as creating a talent pool to develop into NHL’ers. Here, the answer seems straightforward: Signing amateur free agents.

Over the past 25 years, the Flyers have signed a number of undrafted amateur free agent players to NHL contracts who, paradoxically, had resulting NHL impacts that were actually even better than those from players the Flyers drafted in in mid-to-late rounds during the same period.

Goaltenders

Over the past 25 years, the Flyers have drafted two goaltenders who have been able to stick in the NHL in the mid-to-late rounds: Roman Cechmanek and Antero Niittymaki. During this same period, they have signed as amateur free agents Sergei Bobrovski, a two time Vezina winner, and Alex Lyon who is currently excelling in the AHL playoffs and has 24 NHL games under his belt which is substantially more than the 17 goalies other than Cechmanek and Niittymaki that the Flyers drafted in the mid-to-late rounds over the past 25 years combined. Also note that under current NHL rules, the Flyers could sign a 29-year-old, such as Cechmanek was at the time he was drafted, as an amateur free agent without needing to draft him.

Defensemen

Of the roughly three dozen the Flyers have selected in the mid-to-late rounds over the past 25 years, only Dennis Seidenberg played more than 26 NHL games. During this same period, the Flyers signed amateur free agents such as Phillippe Myers. While not the caliber of player Seidenberg turned out to be, he has played over 100 NHL games though his contract structure makes it virtually certain that he gets bought out this offseason.

Forwards

The Flyers have drafted over 50 forwards in the mid-to-late rounds over the past 25 years. Of these, only two have scored 100 or more career points – Alex Selivanov and Patrick Maroon – with Oscar Lindblom also knocking on the door as well with 97 career points to-date. Still, not a single of these mid-to-late round picks has actually scored 100 career points for the Flyers as both Selivanov and Maroon were traded before even reaching the NHL. During this same time span, however, the Flyers signed amateur free agent forwards including Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (118 career NHL points to-date, 34 of which were for the Flyers), Michael Raffl (179 career NHL points to-date, 160 of which were for the Flyers), Matt Read (187 of his 188 career NHL points were for the Flyers), and Ruslan Fedotenko (366 career NHL points, 75 of which were for the Flyers).

Conclusion

Counterintuitively, in terms of ultimate NHL production, the Flyers have actually fared as well or even better with amateur free agent signings versus mid-to-late round draft selections. While this seems nonsensical since all of these players would have been available to be selected by any team during multiple entry drafts, it does highlight the fact that amateur free agent signings are typically players who are slightly older than those drafted and whose games are thus more developed. While mid-to-late round picks virtually never jump right to the NHL, Bellemare, Bob, Read, and Raffl all essentially went right to the NHL with no more than a cup of coffee in the AHL and Fedotenko played just one full season with the Phantoms before becoming a full time NHL player. Therefore, a path of signing amateur free agents to serve in depth roles in the organization looks to be a more effective path than trying to build from mid-to-late round draft selections.

The Flyers should look to trade their mid-to-late round selections for other organizational assets rather than using them to draft players and fill out organizational depth with free agents instead.

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