It could be a quiet NHL draft for the Flyers next weekend in Columbus, Ohio, or it could be two days of major news should the Flyers trade their No. 2 overall pick to land an established NHL player who would not be available in free agency come July 1.

General manager Paul Holmgren seems to be leaning toward entertaining offers to trade the pick. That would still leave the Flyers with the No. 23 pick, which they obtained from Nashville in the Peter Forsberg trade, in the first round.

"We believe if we keep the second pick or the Nashville pick, we will get a good player," Holmgren said. "That first [Flyers] pick won't be far from playing."

Holmgren said if the Flyers traded the No. 2 pick, they would probably retain their second pick in the first round. This year's draft is considered weak, with no one in the first round rated as an immediate impact player.

The Flyers could come out of the draft with bigger news to follow. On June 25, clubs are permitted to extend offer sheets to Group II restricted free agents. According to league sources, the Flyers are seriously considering offering Buffalo's Thomas Vanek an offer sheet.

The 23-year-old left winger would be an immediate upgrade in terms of mobility, skill and scoring. He scored 43 goals last season with the Sabres, playing on both scoring and checking lines.

"We are looking at every conceivable way we can improve our team," Holmgren said when asked whether extending an offer sheet to any restricted free agent was likely. He is not permitted to comment publicly on specific free agents.

First with Ken Hitchcock and now with John Stevens as coach, the Flyers have gone after players who can generate offense off defense and think defense first. An offer sheet for Vanek, who earned $942,000 last season, would be between about $3.5 million and $4.5 million.

On the other hand, rumors that the Flyers are looking to obtain Tampa Bay's Vinny Lecavalier seem to be unfounded. The Lightning have some cap problems in what they can spend, but general manager Jay Feaster said the team was "OK with our budget for this year, and we're not trading any of our big guys."

As for the draft, Chicago, picking first, is expected to select Patrick Kane, the 5-foot-9, 160-pound right winger from the London Knights. He's a player the Flyers like.

If the Blackhawks go that route and the Flyers keep their No. 2 pick, they are expected to choose either Kyle Turris, the 6-1, 170-pound center for Burnaby, a junior-A hockey team, or James vanRiemsdyk, a 6-3, 200-pound left winger from Middletown, N.J. VanRiemsdyk plays for the U.S. national team.

Turris has had the most contact with the Flyers, suggesting he might be the guy they choose.

The draft's first round begins Friday night. Rounds two through seven will be held Saturday.

NHL Draft

Friday and Saturday in Columbus, Ohio

TV: Friday, 7:30-10 p.m. (Versus)

Friday, first round

1. Chicago


3. Phoenix

4. Los Angeles

5. Washington

6. Edmonton

7. Columbus

8. Boston

9. St. Louis

10. Florida

11. Carolina

12. Montreal

13. Toronto

14. Colorado

15. Edmonton

(from N.Y. Islanders)

16. Anaheim

(from Tampa Bay) 17. N.Y. Rangers

18. Calgary

19. Minnesota

20. Pittsburgh

21. Phoenix

(from Dallas)

22. Montreal

(from San Jose)

23. FLYERS (from Nashville in Peter Forsberg trade)

24. St. Louis

(from Atlanta)

25. Vancouver

26. St. Louis (from New Jersey through San Jose) 27. Detroit

28. Washington

(from Buffalo)

29. Ottawa

30. Edmonton

(from Anaheim)


Contact staff writer Tim Panaccio at 215-854-2847 or