The Flyers believe they will get a high-quality player when they make the No. 11 selection June 21 in the opening round of the NHL draft.
That is, if they don’t trade the pick.
In a news conference Monday at the Flyers’ training facility in Voorhees, general manager Chuck Fletcher reiterated that he was open to deal the pick but that it would have to be at a substantial price. He said he has not gotten “a real push for the pick” from other teams.
That could change, he said, before the draft. If it doesn’t, “we’re going to get a really good player," he said. "But it is a pretty good chip, and in certain scenarios, I would not hesitate to move it if it could really help our team.”
One such scenario is probably this: acquiring top-pairing Winnipeg defenseman Jacob Trouba, who is both physical and mobile, as part of a trade package. The 6-foot-3, 202-pound Trouba, 25, a restricted free agent, is right-handed and would fit perfectly alongside Ivan Provorov.
As for the draft, Brent Flahr, an assistant general manager who heads the Flyers’ amateur scouting department, rated it as a B-plus and said he believes there will be quality players available through the second and third rounds. “It’s a good draft; there’s good depth to it," he said.
Among the players who could be available when the Flyers select at No. 11 in Vancouver: right winger Vasili Podkolzin, Cole Caufield (a long shot that he falls to No. 11), and Raphael Lavoie; left winger Matthew Boldy; centers Trevor Zegras, Peyton Krebs (who had Achilles tendon surgery Friday) and Alex Turcotte; and defensemen Victor Soderstrom and Philip Broberg.
“We’ve identified five or six guys that have a chance to be there at 11,” Flahr said. “We’re really confident we’re going to get a good player at 11.”
Flahr said the Flyers will not focus on one position with their top pick.
“We’ll take the best player available,” he said. “… Centermen are hard to get, and if they’re there, typically they don’t last long in the first round.”
Flahr said his scouts have identified players they can potentially get in the second and third rounds, “and they’re very excited about getting them. There are some years when you get to the point, even probably last year, where after 15 or 16, there’s a significant drop-off. This year, it goes deeper than that.”
Fletcher said he has had some good preliminary conversations with the agent for Kevin Hayes, the center whose rights were acquired recently from Winnipeg for a fifth-round pick. Hayes can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Fletcher is expected to meet face to face with Hayes this week. “I don’t have a vibe other than he’s certainly open-minded,” said Fletcher, adding Hayes told him he enjoyed playing for Flyers new coach Alain Vigneault when the two were with the New York Rangers.
Starting June 23, pending UFAs can negotiate with teams besides their current club.