Philadelphia Flyers

Ranking the 5 Best 1st-Round Draft Picks in Philadelphia Flyers History

Brad KurtzbergContributor IJune 30, 2014

Ranking the 5 Best 1st-Round Draft Picks in Philadelphia Flyers History

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    Claude Giroux is among the 5 best 1st-round picks in Flyers' history.
    Claude Giroux is among the 5 best 1st-round picks in Flyers' history.Uncredited/Associated Press

    The draft is the lifeblood of most NHL teams and the Philadelphia Flyers are no exception. If you have success in the draft, success on the ice will usually follow.

    Here is a look at the five best first-round draft picks in Flyers' history. Keep in mind a few ground rules for this list: Players are judged solely on how they performed for the Flyers. Therefore, a player like Peter Forsberg, who the Flyers drafted but traded to the Quebec Nordiques in the Eric Lindros deal before he played for Philadelphia, is not on this list even though he has now been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

    Only players drafted in the first round of the draft are eligible for this list. If the Flyers drafted two players in the opening round of the draft, they are both eligible. If the Flyers didn't have a first-round pick but made a great selection in the second round, he cannot be included.

    Feel free to comment on any player on this list or to mention a player you feel deserves to be included. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.

5. Mel Bridgman, 1975

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    Mel Bridgman served as captain of the Flyers.
    Mel Bridgman served as captain of the Flyers.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    Center Mel Bridgman was selected by the Flyers with the first overall pick in the 1975 NHL draft.

    The native of Trenton, Ontario joined the Flyers that fall, and he immediately made an impact. Bridgman scored 23 goals and accumulated 50 points as a rookie, and he helped Philadelphia return to the Stanley Cup Final for the third consecutive year.

    Bridgman was a scrappy center. He was good defensively and could add some offense when called upon.

    When Bobby Clarke stepped down, Bridgman became captain of the team  and wore the "C" during the Flyers' run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1979-80.

    In 462 games with the Flyers, Bridgman scored 119 goals and accumulated 324 points. He also added 971 penalty minutes, including five consecutive years with at least 100 penalty minutes in a season.

     

4. Simon Gagne, 1998

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    Simon Gagne had many productive seasons with the Flyers.
    Simon Gagne had many productive seasons with the Flyers.Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The Flyers selected Simon Gagne with the 22nd overall pick in the 1998 NHL draft. He joined the big club one year later and had seven campaigns in Philadelphia of 20 or more goals.

    Gagne's best seasons came in 2005-06 and 2006-07 when he scored more than 40 goals in back-to-back years.

    Gagne represented the Flyers in the 2001 and 2007 NHL All-Star Games, and he won a pair of Bobby Clarke Trophies as the team's MVP.

    He also scored one of the most memorable goals in Flyers' history. In 2010, Gagne scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 against the Boston Bruins to help the Flyers become only the third team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit.

    In 10 seasons with the Flyers, Gagne scored 264 goals and 535 points in 691 games.

3. Claude Giroux, 2006

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    Claude Giroux has the potential to move higher up this list in the future.
    Claude Giroux has the potential to move higher up this list in the future.Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    The Flyers chose Claude Giroux with the 22nd overall selection in the 2006 NHL draft.

    Since then, Giroux has gone on to become the team's captain, their best player and the face of the franchise.

    Giroux has already led the Flyers in scoring three times, and he finished third in the NHL in scoring twice. At 26, Giroux is just entering his prime. He should be one of the NHL's best passers and set-up men for the next several years.

    This past season, Giroux was a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP.

    Thus far, in 415 career games, Giroux has scored 119 goals and 377 points, all in a Flyers uniform. If he continues to play this well for Philadelphia, he could move up even higher on this list before his career is over.

2. Brian Propp, 1979

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    Brian Propp was a steady force for the Flyers.
    Brian Propp was a steady force for the Flyers.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    After the club drafted him with the 14th overall pick in the 1979 NHL draft, Brian Propp spent 11 seasons in a Flyers uniform.

    Propp finished his career as the third-leading scorer in Flyers' history with 848 points in 790 games. He scored 369 goals with Philadelphia including a career-high 44 goals in 1981-82.  Propp topped the 40-goal mark in a season four times while in a Flyers uniform.

    Propp played in five NHL All-Star Games and helped the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup Final on three different occasions.

     

1. Bill Barber, 1972

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    Bill Barber reached the HHOF after a great career with the Flyers.
    Bill Barber reached the HHOF after a great career with the Flyers.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    No first-round draft pick has done more for the Flyers than winger Bill Barber.

    Philadelphia selected Barber with the seventh overall pick in the 1972 NHL draft. He joined the Flyers that fall and scored 30 goals as a rookie.

    One year later, Barber combined with center Bobby Clarke on the first line as the Flyers won their first of two straight Stanley Cups.

    Barber's best offensive season came in 1975-76 when he scored 50 goals and 112 points. He also had four other seasons with at least 40 goals.

    In 1979-80, Barber led the Flyers with 12 playoff goals as they reached the Stanley Cup Final again.

    He was named captain of the Flyers in 1981-82 and later served as both an assistant and head coach of the team.

    Barber remains the Flyers all-time leading goal scorer with 420, and he is second in franchise history with 883 points.

    In 1990, the Flyers retired Barber's number. That same year, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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