The Flyers have lots of needs and may decide to trade their first-round pick, 13th overall, in next week’s NHL draft.
But if they keep it, they should get a quality player to add to their solid farm system.
Put the if in italics.
In a Zoom call with the media Tuesday, general manager Chuck Fletcher — usually the most guarded, secretive person in a gathering — admitted he would deal the No. 1 pick in the right situation.
Fletcher, while chuckling that assistant general manager/draft guru Brent Flahr wants to hold onto the pick, said he was keeping his options open.
Should they keep the pick, they would “obviously” get a “high-quality player who will help us but yet, because it’s a high-asset value, I think we have to explore what we can do with it,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher said you “likely end up keeping your first-round pick, but I think this offseason in particular I’m more willing to look at moving it. If there’s some way we can help our team, not just in the short term but more over several years, and it costs me the first-round pick, if I can get that type of asset, I’d certainly look at doing it.”
He said the player(s) in return didn’t necessarily have to fill a specific position, but it’s no secret the Flyers are searching for a top-pairing defenseman who shoots right-handed, such as Columbus’ Seth Jones. The Flyers would have to give up more than a first-rounder to acquire Jones, who reportedly is high on Chicago’s list. The Blackhawks acquired his brother, Caleb Jones, on Monday.
The first-rounder could also be used as part of a deal for Calgary’s shifty left winger, Johnny Gaudreau, 27, a South Jersey native and five-time All-Star who played at Boston College with Flyers center Kevin Hayes.
In the past, Gaudreau has said it would be “sweet” to some day play for the hometown Flyers. He has one year left on a deal that carries a $6.75 million cap hit.
The Flyers have six picks in the seven-round draft. Round 1 (ESPN2) will be held on July 23 starting at 8 p.m., with Rounds 2-7 (NHL Network) on July 24 beginning at 11 a.m.
Based on a consensus of scouting services and draft experts, the players who could be available when the Flyers select include center Chaz Lucius (6-foot-1, 180), a Minnesota native; center/left winger Mason McTavish (6-1, 207); center Cole Sillinger (6-0, 195); center Aatu Raty (6-1, 181); and left-handed defenseman Carson Lambos (6-1, 201).
Flahr said there were no generational players in the draft but lots of quality in the first round and plenty of depth “through the second and third rounds and even beyond.”
If they keep their pick, Flahr said the Flyers would select the best player available in the first round regardless of position. He didn’t dismiss selecting one of the two goalies — Jesper Wallstedt, who will probably be gone by the 13th pick, or Sebastian Cossa — who are expected to go in the first round.
Due to the pandemic, some prospects didn’t play this season because some junior leagues did not have games. “Some players haven’t played at all this year, which is unique for us and for everybody,” Flahr said. “So you’re going to see some variances” in the way teams have prospects ranked.
Owen Power, a 6-6, 213-pound defenseman from the University of Michigan, is widely expected to be selected No. 1 overall by Buffalo. … Fletcher said he will soon reveal his selection of a Flyers assistant (Nick Schultz?) to replace Ian Laperriere, who is now the Phantoms head coach. Laperriere’s assistants at Lehigh Valley will also be named. … Fletcher said signing restricted free agents Carter Hart, Travis Sanheim, and Nolan Patrick is “not a front-burner issue. There’s plenty of time to get to those. We have to make the qualifying offers by the Monday after the draft, and we’ll make those between now and then. And then, typically, the ball gets rolling from there.” … The GM wouldn’t comment on his interest in resigning UFAs Samuel Morin, Brian Elliott, and Alex Lyon.