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May 26, 2015

The idiot's guide to the Flyers and the 2015 NHL Draft

If you believe the experts, a really good player should be available with seventh pick

There’s undoubtedly going to be a lot of hoopla in Philly surrounding the Sixers’ prominent role in the upcoming NBA Draft, but lest we forget their Wells Fargo Center co-tenants also didn’t sniff the playoffs and are similarly reaping the reward of a high draft pick. We’ll likely go into more detail on the basketball version over the next few weeks, but there will be no neglecting of Hakstol’s Heroes on my watch!

Before we delve into specific prospects in-depth, I feel like it’s best to set the stage. What better way is there to accomplish that than asking myself basic questions, answering them, and then posting this wonderful internal monologue for the world to see?

What’s the Flyers’ pick situation? Glad I asked! Stupid Edmonton won another stupid lottery — By the way, with Edmonton and Minnesota securing the top overall pick in their sports’ respective drafts, the NHL and NBA can at least take some solace in absolutely nobody claiming the process is rigged — so the Flyers won’t be securing the services of Connor McDavid. They certainly have some stuff, though.

The guy running the building’s other team has the deserved reputation of acquiring draft pick upon draft pick, but Ron Hextall is no slouch in this department, either. Check out how many picks he holds in the Top 100, which is 100 emoji sign for a team that found itself on the outside looking in on the playoff picture:

Pick (Round)
Acquired From
7 (1)
 Flyers' own pick
27-30 (1)
 Tampa Bay (Braydon Coburn trade)
 58-61 (2)
Chicago (Kimmo Timonen trade)
 70 (3)
San Jose (Tye McGinn trade)
 88-91 (3)
 Tampa Bay (Braydon Coburn trade) 
 98 (4)
  Flyers' own pick
 99 (4)
Columbus (Scott Hartnell trade)

Hoarders Hinkie Hextall

Seven out of 99 presents a pretty good opportunity to rebuild on the fly (Ed Snider and Hextall’s established company line), something I’ve been pretty skeptical of in the past. Just imagine if Paul Holmgren hadn’t traded for Andrew MacDonald. Then, Hexy would really be in business.

Relatively speaking, how good is this draft? Not too shabby. It’s hard to find a complete consensus on these things, but from what you read, a lot of the scouting types believe this year’s crop of prospects is pretty good both at the very top and into the later rounds. For example, here’s what USA Today’s Kevin Allen wrote a couple of months ago:

The 2015 NHL draft crop is so impressive that success and failure will both have their rewards when this season is over. "It's a good year to be bad," St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said.

While 16 teams compete in the NHL playoffs, the other 14 will be sizing up what is expected to be a draft that will yield a high number of difference-makers. "The top 10 kids are going to be pretty good at the NHL level," said Dan Marr, the NHL's director of scouting.

Hey, the Flyers have a Top-10 pick! Who are they looking at? Considering all of the defensive talent that the Flyers already have in their system, if all things are equal, they’ll probably go with a forward. Here’s how Hextall answered the pesky BPA question that seems to inject itself into every sport around draft time:

I think we have more forwards coming than people think, but just the same, I agree with you guys that we’re heavier on defense than we are up front.  I think our weakest position on our depth chart is probably in net, so we’ve got to keep that in mind too. In saying that, at 7, there’s a lot of forwards this year.  So there’s certainly a good chance we’ll take a forward.

I want names, you dunce! Alright, alright. Relax for a second, chief. Because we’ll take a closer look at all of these guys in the upcoming weeks, it’s not necessary to give you their life story. To the Mocks!

Adam Kimelman ( Pavel Zacha, Sarnia Sting. The physical tools seem to be off the charts for this 6’3” Czech forward, who scored 34 points in 37 games (because of injuries) during his first season on this side of the pond.

Mike G. Morreale ( Mikko Rantanen, Finland. Another skilled, big-bodied forward. The 6’4” Rantanen had an excellent showing at this past year’s World Juniors.

Corey Pronman (ESPN Insider): Matthew Barzal, Seattle Thunderbirds. This particular one is actually from a few months ago when the Flyers were slotted to select eighth overall. Barzal is reportedly a skilled 5’11” center with both renowned skating and playmaking ability.

Damien Cox (SportsNet): Ivan Provorov, Brandon Wheat Kings. The Inky’s Mike Sielski wrote about the Russian defenseman a couple of weeks ago (which we then wrote about), and the risk of him potentially going back to play in the KHL Like we mentioned, the Flyers don’t necessarily have a pressing need for defenseman, but Provorov is reportedly the type of puck mover that typically fares well in the modern NHL.

Chris Battaglia (theScore): Noah Hanifin, Boston College. This is the lowest I saw Hanifin fall, but Battaglia’s reasoning is that the Oilers jumping up to pole position took away a team with a major need on the blue line from his projected range. The 6’2” defenseman is apparently an elite skater, which Dave Hakstol reportedly covets.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann