The Flyers have just a 1.8% chance of landing the top overall pick by winning the NHL draft lottery June 2.
Then again, they had luck on their side during the draft lottery in 2017, when their odds of moving to No. 1 or 2 were a little better than 2%. They beat those odds, moving from No. 14 to No. 2 and selecting Nolan Patrick, a hotshot Western Hockey League center from the Brandon Wheat Kings.
“We got an unexpected gift when we moved up in the draft,” Paul Holmgren, then the Flyers’ president, said at the time.
It wasn’t a controversial pick in 2017 because Patrick was the consensus No. 1 or 2 pick by most draft experts. The Flyers’ scouts were divided, however, and reportedly many wanted general manager Ron Hextall, a Brandon native, to choose between Miro Heiskanen and Cale Makar, defensemen who were taken at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.
There will be two draws in the June 2 lottery: one to determine who gets the No. 1 pick, the other to decide which team gets the No. 2 selection.
The draft will be held July 23 and 24, and the top overall pick is expected to be a defenseman. The University of Michigan’s Owen Power, Luke Hughes from the U.S. National Team Development Program, and Brandt Clarke are among the highly touted defensemen. Clarke, an Ottawa native, played in Slovakia this year because the Ontario Hockey League was shut down by the pandemic.
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Whom will the Flyers draft?
There are more unknowns than usual in this year’s draft because COVID-19 made it more difficult than usual for scouts to watch players in person and the OHL was shut down for the season.
Video scouting thus has become more important, and some of the players’ nuances — for instance, the way he interacts with teammates, and his play away from the puck — were more difficult to assess.
For that reason, there is a belief that this year’s draft is even a bigger crapshoot than others, and that some high-quality players might be drafted later than usual because some of the “little things” scouts value might not be as obvious on video.
Based on the odds and where they finished — and assuming they don’t trade their selection — the Flyers will probably pick around 13th in the draft’s first round. Based on their record, they are slotted at 14th before the lottery, but they would move up a slot because Arizona has forfeited its top pick. If Arizona wins either lottery, there will be a redraw.
Buffalo, at 16.6%, has the best chance to win the lottery, followed by Anaheim (12.1%), New Jersey (10.3%), and first-year Seattle (10.3%).
The Flyers have the 14th-best odds at 1.8%, but, again, they will likely pick 13th overall because of the Arizona situation. The Coyotes forfeited their second-round pick last year and their top pick this year for violating the NHL’s combine-testing policy.
Here are some players who could be available when the Flyers make their selection if they pick around No. 13:
Center Chaz Lucius (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) USNTDP in the USHL: The University of Minnesota recruit has a quick release and powerful shot, and he had 20 points, including 13 goals, in 13 games.
Center Cole Sillinger (6-0, 187), Sioux Falls in USHL: He had 46 points (24 goals, 22 assists) in 31 games and is the son of former NHL forward Mike Sillinger.
Center/left winger Mason McTavish (6-1, 207), Olten, Swiss League: He plays with an edge, has a shoot-first mentality, and has a booming shot. With no OHL games this year, McTavish headed to Switzerland and excelled, collecting nine goals in 13 games.
Left winger/center Matthew Coronato (5-10, 183), Chicago in USHL: He had 48 goals and 85 points in 51 games. Known for his speed and ferocious forechecking, he is headed to Harvard.
Center Kent Johnson (6-1, 167), University of Michigan. If he’s still around when the Flyers make their pick, it would not be surprising if he is their selection. He had nine goals and 27 points in 26 games, and displays creativity and the type of skill that could make him a top-line NHL center down the road.
Defenseman Corson Ceulemans (6-2, 198), Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League: A right-handed shooter who is headed to the University of Wisconsin, Ceulemans played for the team that produced Makar, one of the NHL’s best defensemen. He had 35 points in 43 games in 2019-20, and in a shortened season, he had four goals and 11 points in eight games this year.
In franchise history, the Flyers have never drafted a player No. 13 overall. They have selected some notable players at 14, including Brian Propp (1979), Joel Farabee (2018), and Cam York (2019).
Propp became an NHL star and scored 425 goals in his 15-year career, Farabee led the Flyers with 20 goals this season, and York is an up-and-coming defenseman who could make the Flyers out of training camp.
Things to know
We rank the Flyers’ top prospects, and many will put the stamp of Chuck Fletcher and Brent Flahr on the team.
Scott Gordon is thankful for his six years with the Flyers organization. Will Ian Laperriere replace him as the Phantoms’ coach?
Does Nolan Patrick want to play elsewhere? The Flyers center, still filled with promise, won’t say.
The Islanders took advantage of a goaltender’s miscue in the second overtime and defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-2, on Monday. The Isles have a 3-2 lead in the first-round series.
Former Flyers in the playoffs
Pittsburgh’s Jeff Carter is the leading scorer among former Flyers competing in this year’s playoffs. Carter has four points, including three goals, in five games.
Florida’s Radko Gudas is second with two points (goal, assist) in five games. He has a plus-2 rating.
Colorado’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (one assist in four games), Nashville’s Nick Cousins (one goal in the two games he played), St. Louis’ Brayden Schenn (one goal over four games, minus-6), Minnesota’s Ryan Hartman (one goal in five games), Tampa Bay’s Luke Schenn (0 points in two games), Washington’s Michael Raffl (0 points in four games), Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon (0 points in 4 games), and Toronto’s Wayne Simmonds (0 points in three games) are other former Flyers (or ex-farmhands) who have played in this year’s playoffs.
Two former Flyers goalies — Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky and Minnesota’s Cam Talbot — are having different kinds of playoffs.
Bobrovsky, a postseason flop throughout most of his career, has not erased that label. He is 1-2 with a 5.33 GAA and .841 save percentage in this year’s playoffs against Tampa Bay. Talbot is 2-3 with a 2.42 GAA and .928 save percentage, and he made 38 saves and kept the Wild alive with a 4-2 win Monday in Vegas.
Tuesday through June 6: IIHF World Championships (Latvia). In his first two tourney games, the Flyers’ Ivan Prorovov averaged more than 30 minutes and helped Russia notch a pair of wins. The Russians then were stunned by Slovakia, 3-1, on Monday.
July 17: Deadline for clubs to submit protection lists for expansion draft, 5 p.m.
July 21: Seattle expansion draft
July 23: NHL draft, Round 1
July 24: NHL draft, Rounds 2-7
July 28: Free-agent signings permitted, noon
From the mailbag
Oskar Lindblom came back from literal cancer and played with 10x the effort of Nolan Patrick. Kid is either lazy or just doesn’t want to play in Philly. — @DrEvilGritty via Twitter
Answer: There’s no question that Patrick needs to be more engaged on the ice. He obviously struggled this year after sitting out last season because of a migraine disorder, but you don’t give up on a player with his pedigree. In junior, he was better than Matt Barzal and Brayden Point. I don’t think that talent just disappears. To me, this coming season is his show-me year. Or else.
Send questions by email or on Twitter (@broadstbull), and they could be answered in a future edition.