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June 30, 2024

The Flyers are lining up for a big 2025 offseason, they just have to stay patient in getting there

The Flyers' 2024 NHL Draft made one thing clear: They're trying to set up for something much, much bigger next summer in 2025.

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Jett-Luchanko-Flyers-Pick-NHL-Draft-2024-Vegas.jpg Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports

First-round pick Jett Luchanko on the NHL Draft stage in Las Vegas after the Flyers called his name (with help from Michael Buffer) at 13th overall.

Danny Brière said the Flyers can walk away happy from the draft in Vegas after this weekend, assistant GM Brent Flahr thought so, too. 

After trying to find ways to move into the top 10 but coming up empty in the first round, the Flyers instead slid back from 12th overall to 13th in a trade with Minnesota to land on speedy Guelph Storm center Jett Lachenko – a perceived reach by many from the outside, especially after the Wild used the swap to take top American defensive prospect Zeev Buium, but to Brière and Flahr internally, he had been a skater that had kept climbing up their charts for months. 

Then they invested further into a center position that badly needed attention via Sweden's Jack Berglund in the second round and Finland's Heikki Ruohonenin the fourth, got bigger on the blueline with Rimouski's Spencer Gill as another second-rounder and Las Vegas' own Austin Moline in the seventh, and cleaned up with USHL power forward Noah Powell in the fifth and Russian winger Ilya Pautov in the sixth. 

But it's when you step back and look ahead – exactly 12 months from now to be precise – that you can see what the Flyers are really setting themselves up for

In that pick swap with Minnesota on Friday night, the Flyers also netted a 2025 third-round pick. They flipped it the next day to Nashville, along with their own 77th overall selection in the third, to move back into the second to get Gill at No. 59, but then there was that other first-rounder they had via Florida at the very end at No. 32. 

They didn't use it. They gave it to Edmonton for another pick in 2025 – a conditional first.

And after taking stock: The Flyers could have up to three first-round selections in the 2025 draft, plus three more in the second, and up to 12 in total.

The 2025 NHL Draft, by the way, is projected to be a considerably stronger class. 

That's where the Flyers are going to try to truly hit it big. They just have to stay the course in getting there now.

"Absolutely, we've had the chance to upgrade the draft next year," Brière said after the Flyers' Day 2 on the floor in Vegas wrapped. "The tough part is to be patient. Wish we would have a name to put to those picks. That's the tough aspect, but I think it's clear we're still trying to do it the way we have planned from the beginning. 

"That was the plan and we're following that, but there's no doubt, sometimes it's tough. It's tough to stay patient. I'm glad we did."

But it's all going to take more. 

Ever since the Flyers' season ended, with a surprise playoff push that took all the way until Game 82 for it to finally burn out, Brière, along with the rest of the executive brain trust, have tried to temper expectations for where the team goes next on several occasions. 

He didn't want to guarantee making the playoffs as the next step. He didn't know if the team as it exists now is actually capable of that yet, not to mention doing so in a volatile Metro Division and Eastern Conference from year to year, and while in a cap crunch this summer that limits how much the Flyers can immediately improve – though that last part was somewhat by design. 

Brière also mentioned, during his pre-draft media availability last week, that while he believes the construction of the team still has a ways to go, the current three drafts – 2023, 2024, and 2025 – serve as a trifecta that will heavily determine where the Flyers really do end up. 

Let's look at it through this lens: 2023, which brought the selections of Matvei Michkov, Oliver Bonk, and the promise that the Flyers can and will get better is "A New Hope." 2024, which is taking the gamble on Luchanko up the middle and seeing the impending arrival of Michkov ahead of schedule, but is expecting new adversity and possibly a step back as a result, is "The Empire Strikes Back." And 2025, with 10-plus picks lining up for a strong draft, cap space expected to start clearing up, and prospect timelines materializing, could be the grand finale of "Return of the Jedi" and a team ready to take the leap into the contention. 

Or it could end all up like "The Godfather" trilogy...let's just not talk about III.

Look, the point is the Flyers do appear to be moving toward something here. 

This draft comes off a little less exciting compared to last because of it, and free agency when it opens on Monday is likely to be quiet for the Flyers as well, Brière said. Heck, this season might end up a lean one, too, even with Michkov expected to be in the lineup on Opening Night. 

But it is pushing the Flyers forward, and to what they're hoping is going to be – what they're working to try and make – a major summer in 2025. 

They just have to be a bit more patient. Everyone is going to have to be. 

"Well, what it means is you're not gonna see me a whole lot next year," Flahr, who heavily manages the Flyers' scouting, joked. "But no, it's exciting. Next year, we project it to be a very strong draft just from what we've seen so far. Obviously, we're going to see more and more kids this summer. To have those picks, not only in the first and second, it allows you to do a lot of things next year at the draft. 

"We know it's a strong draft, but also there are situations next summer where we can be players and get in the game and take a big step hopefully."

Just be patient.

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