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Flyers have worst farm system in NHL

DALLAS -- It's official.

The Flyers have the worst farm system in the NHL.

Even though the Flyers have had the lowest average first pick in the NHL draft every year since 2007, the Flyers' farm system still ranks 30th in the NHL in viable prospects, according to The Hockey News' annual "Future Watch" edition which was released this week.

The Flyers did not place a prospect in THN's Top 50 list and the organization was given a C-minus grade by a panel of 18 scouts, the lowest grade league-wide.

Sure, it doesn't help that the Flyers have had just one first round pick since 2008. They have needed to trade them to bring in worthwhile players like Chris Pronger and Kris Versteeg. But when they've had one, they've been pretty successful.

Every single one of the Flyers' first round picks since 2000 – Justin Williams (now in LA), Jeff Woywitka (DAL), Joni Pitkanen (CAR), Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Steve Downie (TB), Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, Luca Sbisa (ANA) – are all playing in the NHL.

The Flyers have very few prospects in Adirondack - which has slowly but surely picked themselves out of last place in the AHL and out of contention for the worst record in franchise history - that project to make the NHL.

And without a first round pick again this year, the Flyers look to continue to bring in low-risk but high-reward players that went undrafted from the NCAA and CHL ranks. One big target on the Flyers' list is Stephane Da Costa, a Paris, France native that plays at Merrimack College.

Da Costa, who was the NCAA's Rookie of the Year last year as a freshman (collecting the first national award in school history), has guided the Warriors to the Hockey East semifinals for the first time since 1998. Merrimack takes on the University of New Hampshire tonight (Friday) at Boston's TD Garden.

(Sidenote: UNH features three Philly natives: goalie Matt DiGirolamo [Ambler, Pa.], defenseman Matt Campanale [Chester Springs, Pa.], forward Greg Manz [West Chester, Pa.] and defenseman Eric Knodel [West Chester, Pa.]. Oh, and by the way, James van Riemsdyk would have been a senior this year.)

The Flyers can officially begin trying to persuade Da Costa to leave Merrimack once his season is over.

(Also a sidenote: which Daily News sports columnist attended Merrimack?)

THIS AND THAT: Here are a few quick stats from Thursday night's shootout loss in Atlanta:

  1. The Flyers are now 2-4 in shootouts this season.

  1. Ville Leino played 20:08, his fourth 20+ minute game of the season.

  1. Braydon Coburn played 28:35, almost 4 minutes north of his season average. It's the most he's played since Apr. 12, 2009 against the Rangers.

  1. Danny Briere and Claude Giroux extended their point streak to 5 games.

  1. Briere posted his 4th career 30-goal season.

  1. The 49 total shots between the two teams tied for the fourth-fewest in a Flyers game and was the fewest since Jan. 22.

  1. Atlanta had gone to overtime in 15 of their last 36 games.

TIME CHANGE: Perhaps looking to cash in on the Flyers' short memory against the Rangers after that 7-0 shellacking on national television on March 6, NBC has moved Apr. 3rd's rematch against New York to 12:30 p.m. as it's Game of the Week.

The game was originally scheduled for 3 o'clock.

It is one of two dates remaining this season for the Flyers on national TV. Tuesday's test against Washington will also be televised on Versus.

Maybe NBC is on to something. You remember last time these two teams met in April on a Sunday afternoon, right?

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers