Philadelphia Flyers 2012 Draft: Where They Need Help and Who They Could Target
The NHL Entry Draft offers an opportunity for bad teams to build a franchise and for good teams to invest in the future without sacrificing the present. For the Philadelphia Flyers, this draft will focus on acquiring future reinforcements for a strong, young offensive corps.
At this time last season, Philly unloaded some intimidating contracts to put its faith in prospects. Highly-coveted Brayden Schenn, tough guy Wayne Simmonds, puck-handler extraordinaire Jakub Voracek and two-way specialist Sean Couturier were acquired to make the Flyers the team to fear in the future instead of the present.
With the retooling project underway, the 2012 NHL Draft will afford the Flyers the opportunity to round out a roster that is heavy in offensive talent and light in goaltending and defensive reliability.
Let’s see what the Flyers can do on draft day to make Philly a big-time competitor for years to come.
Option: Draft a Big-Time Defensive Prospect
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The most gaping hole in the Flyers’ lineup is the theoretical one left by the assumed absence of Chris Pronger.
Officially, Pronger is still a part of Philly’s roster, but his concussion issues have led many to believe the team will be playing without him in 2012-13. This leaves needs in the defensive zone as well as on the power play.
Considering that the team has been structured around Pronger’s blue-line presence, there is a need for a physical, multi-talented defensive prospect.
Who to Pick?
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Barely 18 years old and already listed at 6’3” and 195 pounds, Lindholm combines size with net-seeking prowess to give the Flyers their best shot at a young Chris Pronger.
Yes, he is smaller than Pronger, and yes, his attributes more closely mimic Andrej Meszaros than the captain himself, but with the right development and training, Lindholm could become an anchor for a team that recognizes it will soon be playing without both Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen.
Lindholm slipping to 20th might be a bit of a pipe dream, but if he is there, common sense dictates that the Flyers will take him.
Also Consider: Slater Koekkoek. Let’s see you pronounce THAT, Coatesy.
Option: Draft a Goalie Prospect
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The Flyers are roped into a nine-year deal with Ilya Bryzgalov no matter how you slice it, and backup Sergei Bobrovsky has become little more than valuable trade bait should Philly try to make a move.
However, the team could benefit from a smart goalie pick in the draft, since home-grown goalies can play significant minutes with the right training at a discount price (just look at Cory Schneider), so the Flyers can deal with the present without risking the future.
Goalies are always a big gamble in the draft, but as a result, Philly might find themselves with their choice of netminders at No. 20.
Who to Pick?
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“Subban” is a name that draws sneers in Philadelphia, but a franchise goaltender will dissolve any family grudge P.K.'s brother might experience in this city.
The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to be the most goalie-desperate team to pick ahead of the Flyers, but Tampa’s acquisition of Anders Lindback changed the face of the draft for Philly. Now, goalies like Subban could easily slip to 20th and give Philly a chance to gamble on the next Brodeur or Lundqvist.
Also Consider: Andrei Vasilevski. Perhaps the Russian youngin’ could learn some of Bryzgalov’s skill while blocking out the crazy.
Option: Draft a Power Forward
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On offense, the Flyers are more ready for the future than most teams. They have their defensive centerman in 19 year-old Sean Couturier, their two-way Renaissance man in Brayden Schenn and their first post-Lindros superstar in Claude Giroux.
However, the one thing the Flyers can be concerned about is the true Broad Street Bullies successor: a gritty power forward.
For the moment, the team has size and crease-presence in Scott Hartnell, Wayne SImmonds, Jaromir Jagr and James van Riemsdyk.
Thus, this time next year, the Flyers could be down to one legitimate power forward.
Who to Pick?
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At 6’2 and over 200 pounds, Gaunce could be the top pick available to the Flyers, according to SB Nation and Broad Street Hockey. While offense isn’t Philly’s most pressing need, when you have the 20th overall pick, common sense is to go after the best player available and develop him.
Gaunce has size on his side and can play center or wing, versatility that is valuable in Philly’s highly-structured offense.
If the Flyers decide that the defensemen and goalies available at No. 20 aren’t worth the investment, expect Gaunce to be the guy the Flyers look to.
Also Consider: Stefan Matteau. It would be cool to steal the son of New York’s hero, wouldn’t it?
Option: Make a Draft-Day Trade
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For the first time in years, Philadelphia has the draft-day luxury of being a team on the rise.
James van Riemsdyk, Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier were all taken within the first eight picks of their respective drafts. Claude Giroux, a former 22nd pick, leads the offense. The defense shows promise with the likes of Barydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros and Erik Gustafsson.
Philly is a team built to win in the next few years, but a strategic trade could turn a franchise with a surplus of young talent into an immediate Stanley Cup threat.
What's the Move?
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Nash has been no stranger to trade rumors in the last six months, and GM Paul Holmgren has had to answer questions regarding a Nash trade to the City of Brotherly Love.
Van Riemsdyk and backup goalie Sergei Bobrovsky both seem like natural trade bait, carrying big upsides while having limited future in Philadelphia. If Holmgren can construct a deal to land Nash, a veteran whose effort is long overdue for a competitive Cup run, the Flyers could become immediate favorites for hockey’s ultimate prize.
Also Consider: Waiting. Zach Parise is an available free agent.