Taking the pulse of the fan base, 2018 draft edition

We’ve got lots of opinions to go through, folks.

With the draft behind us and just days remaining until the entire hockey world will be focused on which free agent their favorite team is going to sign - like how the Flyers are going to sign John Tavares thanks to this convincing letter - let’s take a moment to try and gauge how the fan base, at least the fan base on Twitter, is feeling about the Flyers’ 2018 draft class.

Round 1, Pick #14: Joel Farabee

If you followed the draft even a little bit you probably already knew who Farabee was and that he had been on the minds of Flyers fans for months as a favorite for their first of two round one selections. You, the Broad Street Hockey community, ranked him 12th overall on the community draft board, and among players available at fourteen, he was the second-highest ranked player, behind only Joe Veleno who fell all the way to Detroit at 30th overall.

As expected, many were thrilled with the pick.

Heck, even our own draft party was elated over Farabee!

Others, however, were not as excited, citing concerns about college prospects having the choice to stay in school and wait until the team that drafted them loses their rights, allowing them to sign with any team they want.

One fan would have much rather preferred Nearabee, and I can’t blame them for feeling that way; near is closer than far after all.

All joking aside, whether you like Farabee because he’s a fan of the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles, or, you know, the fact that he’s a really talented hockey player, there was a lot of positivity surrounding the pick. In-fact the reaction was so positive that 94% of you that voted in our poll at the time of the selection said that you liked the pick. Finding negative opinions regarding Farabee was a challenge, and the majority of them came from those who wanted the Flyers to trade the draft pick for a current NHL player - something that I’ll be getting to later. It’s safe to say that he was the consensus choice here.

Round 1, Pick #19: Jay O’Brien

Unlike Farabee, O’Brien was relatively unknown to the majority of the fan base and with the likes of Rasmus Kupari, Joe Veleno, and K’Andre Miller still available, the pick was a bit of a surprise. It’s not like that is necessarily a bad thing, I mean almost nobody saw the Flyers taking Morgan Frost at 27th overall in last year’s draft and, well, he’s pretty good! Pretty, pretty good.

What being an unknown at the time does mean, however, is that people immediately started to question the selection, believing that the Flyers could have traded back, added assets, and drafted him later.

On the other hand, while still maybe not totally overjoyed by the pick, some decided to put their faith in Ron Hextall and his team.

And finally, there were those who defended the pick and were genuinely happy with the selection.

It’s a bit of a mixed bag from the fans here, but that’s what you have to expect when your team picks a player that by all accounts flew under the radar.

For what it’s worth, I fall into the middle category. I didn’t know anything about him when they made the pick, but I trust Ron and his staff because of their round one “reaches” in past drafts. Plus, after reading about O’Brien a bit, I’ve really begun to like the pick.

Round 2, Pick #50: Adam Ginning

Your opinion on Robert Hagg probably helped shape your opinion of Ginning. When a defender is described as a “Hagg type” it will elicit one of two reactions, the first being “awesome, a shutdown defenseman that blocks of ton of shots and dishes out plenty of hits” and the second being “oh no, another defenseman that doesn’t do much offensively and will turn the puck over a ton”.

Essentially a mix of these two opinions:

Some even believe that it’s unfair to compare him to Hagg, suggesting his puck skills aren’t as poor as certain scouting reports make them out to be.

And finally, like with the O’Brien pick, some fans fully trust Hextall’s judgement based on his draft history.

Among the Flyers’ eight picks, Ginning was probably the most controversial one from a value standpoint. Multiple scouting reports mentioned him lacking the puck skills, with the Recrutes draft guide in particular even going as far as to say that he’s “not a puck guy.”

Others had better things to say, with both SB Nation’s Eyes on the Prize and Elite Prospects writing that he has an above average outlet pass. Even if his offensive game never comes around, as long as he can make a good first pass he can still become an effective player in today’s NHL.

My take on the pick is that, without a third round draft pick in their possession, the Flyers wanted to make a “safe” pick. Ginning, to me, is exactly that; a prospect with a high floor and a low ceiling. While I think it’s likely that he’ll play in the NHL one day, when compared to Calen Addison, who went just three picks later to Pittsburgh, Ginning lacks the skill set that gives Addison an outside chance of becoming a true top pairing defenseman.

Rounds 4-7

Rather than going into each mid-to-late round pick individually, since there’s really not many differing opinions when the players selected aren’t well known, let’s combine them into one category.

Up first, the final two defensemen that the Flyers drafted, Jack St. Ivany and Wyatte Wylie.

Did you want a right-handed defenseman? You got it. Did you want one with size? You got it. Did you want someone who plays for the Everett Silvertips? You got it! Okay that last one might just be me, but the reality is that these two picks checked a lot of boxes for a lot of people, including Ron Hextall.

The Flyers then went on to use their final three picks on a goaltender, Samuel Ersson, and two centers, Gavin Hain and Marcus Westfalt. When the Flyers selected Westfalt, the reaction was overwhelming positive and they received more praise than you’d anticipate for a seventh round selection.

It seems that a lot of people believe that Westfalt was underrated and were surprised that he was still available at pick 205. While I wasn’t aware of him prior to the draft, I do love the pick, and the reasons why are summed up perfectly in this tweet from The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis.

Lack of trades

Finally, there’s a growing contingent within the fan base that is tired of waiting for the Flyers to take that proverbial next step towards becoming a true Cup contender, and would have certainly preferred to see a trade go down that saw the Flyers send picks and/or prospects out and receive a quality NHL player in return; think Colorado trading a second round pick for Philipp Grubauer, or Florida trading three picks for Mike Hoffman. Clearly that didn’t happen, as the Flyers’ only trade was a seventh round pick swap with Montreal, but that doesn’t mean they won’t make a splash this off-season. To those of you who feel this way, I offer you this:

With over twenty million dollars in cap space, the most they’ve had in years, if not ever, the Flyers finally have an opportunity to make a big splash. I know, I know, that’s not reassuring. Hextall’s best trade acquisition thus far has been Radko Gudas, who was seen as a thrown-in at the time, but that was the cap-strapped Flyers of old. Now they have the cap space and, more importantly, an abundance of assets to make a trade for a player like Ryan O’Reilly or Jeff Skinner. There’s still time and there’s still players available. We’ll have to wait and see if the Flyers actually make a move as we head into free agency, but hopefully one day you won’t have to be tortured by hearing the phrase “two to three years away” ever again.

Closing thoughts

At the end of the day whether you think a certain player was a reach, or you wanted them to trade a pick or two, we’re all just hoping these guys become solid NHL players and that the Flyers take the necessary steps to become a real threat to the rest of the league.

After taking some time, how do you feel about the Flyers 2018 draft?

It was great, I’m happy with every pick61
It was good, but I would change a pick or two if I could236
It was okay, I only liked a few of their picks91
It was pretty bad, I didn’t agree with any of their picks4
Who they chose was fine, I just wish they had made a trade for a current NHL player62