Flyers 2008 draft preview

By HF Staff

Top 10 prospects

1. James vanRiemsdyk, LW
2. Claude Giroux, RW
3. Steve Downie, LW
4. Ryan Parent, D
5. Andreas Nodl, RW
6. Michael Ratchuk, D
7. Stefan Ruzicka, RW
8. Kevin Marshall, D
9. Patrick Maroon, LW
10. Oskars Bartulis, D

Having recently gone from the worst team in the league to a viable contender in just a year, the Flyers are suddenly back to drafting late in the first round as opposed to within the top few picks.  The team will return several young prodigies from previous drafts like Carter and Richards and likely mix in more youth with the addition of 2005 draftee Claude Giroux. 

The Flyers have relatively few picks this year after having made several trades in order to accelerate the rebuilding process.  Currently the Flyers hold the 27th pick overall as their top pick.

Team Needs 

Having made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, there’s little missing on the Flyers roster.  Taking a step forward at goaltender is a possibility this summer.

With many young players on their NHL roster and looking to crack into the lineup next year as rookies, the Flyers stock is definitely trending upward. 

Organizational Strengths

With offensive prospects like James vanRiemsdyk, Giroux, Andreas Nodl and Steve Downie, this team is fully stocked at the forward position for years to come.  There is also a healthy redundancy within the system when it comes to defensive defensemen like Marshall, Guenin and Parent. 

The developmental learning curve on these players is also nicely staggered so it would seem the Flyers can easily phase each of these players in slowly without ever having to clear room for all of them at the same time. 

Organizational Weaknesses

There is a glaring need for a true offensive defenseman or potential No. 1 goaltender in the system.  While the team has several potential blue chip offensive prospects the defensive prospects are generally more on the defensive side of the board and the goaltenders can be considered, at best, a stretch to be anything better than NHL backups at this point.

While one of the prospects currently in the system could blossom and turn a weakness into strength, it would appear that is unlikely.  Michael Ratchuk is a decent prospect in terms of providing offense from the blueline, but much like an old Flyers prospect Alexander Picard, he has some maturing to do at the AHL level. 

Scott Munroe is currently the best Flyers goaltender prospect, although at this point in his career it would seem he is more suited to be an NHL backup or AHL starter at best. 

Draft Tendencies

The Flyers have drafted exactly the way you’d expect a gritty hard-nosed team to draft.  They’ve generally enjoyed drafted physical players and players with outstanding size, but more recently have strayed from that path on guys like Claude Giroux.  One obvious thing — they know how to draft forwards. 

The Flyers have turned late-round picks into players like Simon Gagne, Justin Williams, Mike Richards and prospects like Giroux.  By the same token, the Flyers have used later and mid-round picks to try and fill those goaltending and defensive needs with limited success. 

Previous attempts to find a goaltender early in the draft have largely resulted failure.  Maxime Ouellet, Jean-Marc Pelletier and to a lesser extent Brian Boucher are most notable in that category.

The Flyers have apparently followed their heart when successfully drafting in the early rounds.  They appear to draft the best available player at their pick and are perhaps a little less likely than some teams to be tied to “team needs” as a reason for making a selection.

The picks

The Flyers currently possess five picks, but only one in the first three rounds.  It has been rumored the Flyers are likely to try to move up, but given the depth of this particular draft, it may be just as likely that a savvy GM would look to move down and gain additional picks.  Paul Holmgren has displayed the ability to think outside the box and the willingness to be aggressive about improving his team so all options will likely remain on the table.  

1st round (27th overall)
4th round (118th overall)
6th round (178th overall)
7th round (196th overall)
7th round (208th overall)   

Hockey’s Future staff mock draft result: 

Chet Pickard, Goaltender, Tri-City Americans (WHL