The Flyers had a nice dilemma when their pick came up at No. 11 on Friday night.
Too many of the guys they were projected to like were still available.
Matthew Boldy was still there. Cole Caufield was still there. Peyton Krebs was still there. Alex Newhook was still there.
Cam York, an offensive defenseman from Anaheim Hills, Calif., was still there.
So they traded the pick. For the 45th and the 14th picks, which after the unusual first 10 selections, was probably going to be their 11th pick anyway.
In any case, general manager Chuck Fletcher’s seeming indifference to whom he got in the first round now seems sincere. "It’s a strong draft,’’ he said Thursday, voicing a position he expressed before.
Despite so much hand-wringing about surrendering picks to acquire proven veterans, as he did in giving up a second-rounder for Justin Braun, Fletcher walked out of Rogers Arena with four picks inside the first 75. In a draft that was universally seen as deep.
And the Flyers walked out with York at 14, after Florida’s equally unexpected decision to pick a goaltender, Spencer Knight, one pick ahead of the Flyers.
Carter Hart, believed to be that long-awaited Flyers franchise goaltender, was drafted 48th overall in 2016.
Three picks later, Caufield, Newhook, and Krebs were off the board, and Flyers fans were left to wonder once again about their new GM.
Is he smarter than the people running Montreal, Colorado, and Las Vegas? Because Fletcher was constant about his first-round pick: It would be about talent, not need.
And make no mistake. Most of the mock drafts out there had several, if not all, of the three who were selected after York going before him.
At 5-11, he draws comparisons to former Rangers great Brian Leetch. And if that’s right, then Fletcher will be too.
Fletcher wasn’t alone in unpredictability. New Detroit GM Steve Yzerman shocked even German defenseman Moritz Seider when he picked him sixth overall, bypassing more touted prospects Dylan Cozens, Trevor Zegras, and Russian Victor Podkolzin. The Chicago Blackhawks, picking third, raised eyebrows when they bypassed defenseman Bowen Byram to pick 6-4 center Kirby Dach.
There were groans from the hometown crowd when Russian forward Vasili Podkolzin was announced as the Vancouver Canucks’ pick.
There were boos, as there always seems to be, when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stepped to the microphone at the start.
I know he’s the commissioner. Still, I don’t understand why Bettman begins these proceedings every year. I get that he wants to stand strong, but the start of these things are so electric, and then he walks onto that stage and then it becomes uncomfortable from the moment he speaks.
The boos become the focal point at the start of the draft. It’s not fair – no NHL commissioner has done more for the sport – but he just triggers that emotion. If you can’t slip through Vancouver – a town mellower than a Grateful Dead song – without getting booed, it’s time for a new strategy.
Bettman tried, bringing out popular retired Canucks Daniel and Henrik Sedin, after he had endured what he must have thought were a sufficient amount of boos.
But in the future, why not try that in reverse?