Sure, it could happen. The first dozen or so picks could go off the board largely as expected. We all know that probably won’t happen; that is the beauty of pro sports drafts.
So what are the most likely scenarios for the Flyers? We talked to other team’s beat writers and scoured Twitter and every blog we could. The following are five scenarios that could unfold tomorrow. Some are unlikely, and some are legit. Let’s have some fun.
A caveat to the below scenarios: In the days leading up to the draft, no one is being honest. Cards are being held close to the vest and everyone is saying that they are going to take the best player available. No one is going to compromise draft strategy.
#5: The Trade Up
The Flyers trade their #7 and #29 first round picks and Mark Alt to Arizona for the team’s #3 and second round (#60 overall) pick. And with the #3 pick, the Flyers select…Dylan Strome.
Though Strome is a center, a position in which the Flyers have a logjam, it is an enticing thought. Strome is an elite offensive talent. If the first two picks were not McDavid and Eichel, Strome could be the top pick. He won the OHL scoring title with 129 points in 68 games, and he carried the Erie Otters while teammate and consensus #1 pick Connor McDavid was out with a broken hand.
VERDICT: Yeah, probably not going to happen. Ron Hextall has preached building through the draft and patience with developing prospects. I don’t see the Flyers moving up and giving up the picks they worked hard to acquire.
#4: The Trade Down.
So what happens if the first six picks fall as follows: McDavid, Eichel, Hanifin, Strome, Marner, Provorov? Take Mikko Rantanen, right? He is a big (6’4” 209 pounds) and offensively skilled. Hextall has already said that he does not expect a prospect to step in and play right away.
In addition, both Hextall and director of scouting Chris Pryor both feel that the talent level from picks 6-12 are pretty much even. Given that scenario, would it make sense to secure another asset or two and move back a few spots, where they could still grab a player like Pavel Zacha, whom they really like, or Lawson Crouse? Let’s say they trade back to #10. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to get Colorado’s second round (#40 overall) back and maybe a third (#71 overall). Still, Hextall told CSNPhilly’s Tom Dougherty, “I guess [we would consider moving down] if someone threw something really stupid at you. But I don’t anticipate moving down.”
VERDICT: It actually might make sense to do it, but we don’t think it is going to happen. Is it possible? Yes. Is it probable? No. Then again, this could be a Hextall smoke screen.
#3: The New Jersey Factor
New Jersey is the wildcard here, and since they are picking at #6, to a large extent, the Devils will impact how the Flyers select. For instance, if the Devils pick Rantanen, the Flyers pick Ivan Provorov, the solid defensive prospect who they covet. If the Devils pick Provorov, the Flyers take Rantanen.
Simple, right? Not so fast. What if the Devils put the Flyers in a position of choosing between two players they are reportedly high on?
Devils blog In Lou We Trust analyzed almost 40 mock drafts and found that many of them have New Jersey taking Seattle Thunderbirds center Mathew Barzal. If the Flyers find themselves having to choose between two players they are high on—Rantanen and Provorov—wouldn’t it make sense to call Columbus GM Jarmo Kekäläinen and offer to switch spots? Columbus is high on Provorov. If we could get another asset and grab Rantanen, would it be worth it?
VERDICT: It could happen. A lot of the cards would have to fall just right, but with the top five picks considered to be McDavid/Eichel/Hanifin/Strome/Marner, the Devils just might take Barzal and leave the Flyers with a potential opportunity. Columbus holds the 38 and 58 overall picks in the second round.
#2: The Reach
If the first six picks are McDavid/Eichel/Hanifin/Strome/Marner/Provorov, will the Flyers pick Rantanen simply because he would be the best player available? Recall last year, when everyone was shocked when Hextall went off the board at #17 to select Travis Sanheim, a defenseman whose final NHL Central Scouting rank was 53 among North American skaters. They liked Sanheim, they were confident in their scouts, so they grabbed him. He is now the best prospect and will compete for a roster spot this fall.
So what if the Flyers again go off the board to grab a player like center Kyle Connor, whose final CSS ranking was 13? He has blazing speed and elite level skating ability, something the Flyers are sorely lacking. He is creative with the puck and plays a solid two way game. Does this sound like a player that will bring a missing element to the team?
VERDICT: We think Connor is going to be drafted in the top 10. Whoever gets him is going to be getting themelves a very good player. It might be the Flyers if they want to shock the draft floor once again. However, I’d like them to trade down to get Connor, if that is an option being entertained by the team.
#1: The Tesla
Why did we call this one The Tesla? Because it is a scenario that virtually no one heard coming, and all of a sudden it is right in front of you.
Our friends at Broad Street Hockey, bless their hearts, conjured up a scenario in which Noah Hanifin, the smooth skating, top ranked defenseman in the draft, falls to the Flyers at seven. In this scenario, the prospects are chosen as follows: McDavid, Eichel, Marner, Strome, Crouse, Rantanen, Hanifin.
I would love this. I would take Hanifin in a second. It would be interesting to see what the Flyers would do in this situation. After all, we have been salivating over a choice between Rantanen and Provorov. But what if the choice is Provorov or Hanifin?
VERDICT: It would be a heck of a problem to have. We don’t think it will happen, but we can dream, can’t we?