Flyers 2022 NHL draft preview: Trade? What prospect at No. 5 pick?

·6 min read

With potential for 'surprises' or a trade, Flyers have big opportunity at No. 5 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Each NHL draft typically comes with a consensus top two or three prospects.

The 2022 draft, in which the Flyers are near the front of the pecking order, could be different.

At which pick might the opinions start to vary?

"One," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said a week ago with a slight smile. "No, this year's a little different. ... I know I've talked to a lot of my counterparts, there’s a lot of differing opinions at the top end of the draft. It's not as much of a consensus as some media think, but I think you see the general names."

Following a long and forgettable 2021-22 season, the Flyers own the No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft, which takes place over the next two days at Montreal's Bell Centre. The Flyers have six total selections. The first round is Thursday (7 p.m. ET/ESPN), while Rounds 2-7 follow Friday (11 a.m. ET/NHL Network).

"We have a couple of layers of players, a certain amount of guys that we’re comfortable with where we’re at," Flahr said of the Flyers at fifth overall. "Then another layer, maybe we move back a couple spots, maybe you move back a number if you're confident at the draft table, if it goes a certain way and we can move back and gain assets and still get player that we have rated, then we'll potentially do that. You’re going to see more action when you get closer to the draft and get more information on what teams are doing and looking to do."

Here are the Flyers' picks:

  • First round — No. 5 overall

  • Third round — No. 69 overall

  • Fourth round — No. 101 overall

  • Fifth round — No. 133 overall

  • Sixth round — No. 165 overall

  • Seventh round — No. 197 overall

"There are some interesting players early," Flahr said to NBC Sports Philadelphia on June 10. "I think it's going to be a really interesting first round. … It’s going to be surprising I think to a lot of people, I think there could be a lot of surprises in the early going of this draft."

The reward of suffering through an unpleasant 25-46-11 season is a nice asset, that being a top-five pick for the Flyers. General manager Chuck Fletcher and company are aiming to aggressively retool this offseason. With John Tortorella as head coach, they want to get better quickly and start seeing some results out of the chute in 2022-23.

Last summer, Fletcher traded the Flyers' first-round pick (13th overall but technically 14th) in the deal to acquire Rasmus Ristolainen. Utilizing the No. 5 pick in a trade gives the Flyers an avenue to improve their roster now.

But the Flyers have many needs and can take other routes to improve in 2022-23. Whereas a major organizational need is to become younger and improve the talent level. The fifth overall pick offers the Flyers a prime shot to do so.

"It’s still the best way of acquiring top-end talent, so I think it’s difficult to trade because that’s a great opportunity to fix at least one hole that you have long term in your organization," Fletcher said last Wednesday.

"If we're going to trade the pick outright, it needs to be for a player in a certain age group. It would have to be a player that could help us win now, but also win for several years. I don't think we're looking to bring in somebody in their late-20s or early-30s.

"Certainly I'm speaking to every team in the league, I know we say this every year, but it’s definitely true this year, trying to ascertain what the value of that pick is. If somebody has designs on it and makes the fair offer, we've got to consider everything."

More: Flyers looking to trade for young, two-time 40-plus goal scorer?

Fletcher also noted the importance of giving Flahr and the amateur scouting staff a chance to see their work rewarded. That doesn't rule out a trade. Moving back in the draft is probably more likely than moving up for the Flyers in this spot, but the Flyers are confident at No. 5.

"That’s the fun part of it, for us at least — exploring what may be there," Fletcher said of a potential trade. "But history tells you that usually you make the pick.

"You have guys that have worked all year preparing their list and they get a chance to get a top, top guy. As a manager, you’re trying to give your guys more opportunities, not take opportunities away from them. I think that factors in, as well."

If Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky and Logan Cooley go in the top four like many anticipate, the Flyers would have an opportunity to grab one of the top two defensemen in the entire class: David Jiricek or Simon Nemec, both righty shots. The club could also have appealing options at center or winger in Cutter Gauthier, Matthew Savoie or Joakim Kemell, to name a few.

But the gist of this draft's outlook: buckle up, anything can happen.

"I think the top end of this draft is fairly scrambled," Fletcher said. "I'm sure everybody would have different readings on the group and different lists. I think there are probably several names that would all be in most teams' top 10, but it could be ordered quite differently.

"Whether that creates more movement or less movement, I’m not sure. There's already been some interesting conversations and I think everybody's trying to get a sense of where everybody's at, but also what the value of that pick is."

The Flyers do not have a selection in the second round because of the Shayne Gostisbehere trade last summer. Fletcher was asked if the Flyers would actively look to acquire a second-round pick.

"Yeah, definitely," he said. "I think the priority is making sure we do well with our first pick. If we can still get a great first-round pick and find a way to get a second-round pick or to get another player, get another prospect or something, sure. But I think that’s secondary to actually looking at the top end of the draft."

Flyers draft targets

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• Could Flyers draft another Finnish winger with exciting tools?

• A big center on the rise should have Flyers' attention at No. 5

• One of draft's more thrilling players may give Flyers trade-back option

If there at No. 5, D-man with eye-opening game will give Flyers a lot to ponder

• Is versatile forward with advanced game worth No. 5 pick by Flyers?

• Is there a dark horse on defense for the Flyers at No. 5?

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• Could Cooley slip to Flyers at No. 5 in draft?

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