Photo: Marc-Andre Bourdon is one of several Flyers defensive prospects who already has some NHL experience on his resume. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
While the Philadelphia Flyers prospect pool consistently hovers near the bottom of the league, it is not for a lack of production. A steady stream of graduates has kept the team rotating through young talent since the end of the 2004-05 NHL Lockout. Though they once again lack blue-chip prospects within their pool, most of the weight for the future of the team is carried by young NHL players such as Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, and the Schenn brothers, Luke and Brayden.
Photo: Brandon Manning (right) is one of several Flyers' defensive prospects close to being fulltime NHL players. (Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
With an incredible amount of young talent on the NHL roster, an intriguing group of prospects on the verge of becoming NHL regulars, and championship aspirations, there is a delicate balancing act going on within the Philadelphia Flyers' front office. There is also a vital need to keep the defense from falling into disrepair with Chris Pronger's injury problems and Kimmo Timonen's inevitable fall from the upper echelon of NHL defensemen.
Photo: Defenseman Erik Gustafsson is one of several Flyers defensive prospects with NHL experience. (Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
While the Philadelphia Flyers do not necessarily have a deep or talented prospect pool, it is not because of poor drafting and prospect development. On the contrary, the Flyers' prospect pool is shallow because the organization does a masterful job transitioning their prospects directly to the NHL, with Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, and Matt Read the most recent to make the jump.
Photo: Drafted 20th overall in 2012, Scott Laughton has already drawn comparisons to former Flyers captain Mike Richards for his gritty, two-way style of play. (Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
While the 2012 NHL Draft was far quieter for the Philadelphia Flyers than previous ones, the organization still got the job done. Though no major trades occurred, General Manager Paul Holmgren addressed his prospect pool perfectly. The organization went with the best available in the first round, answered some goaltending concerns in the second, and eventually secured some defensive depth to compete with current prospects.
Photo: Selected eighth overall in 2011 by the Philadelphia Flyers, Sean Couturier was brilliant in his first NHL season. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
Two years removed from a 2010 Stanley Cup Finals which saw the Chicago Blackhawks
triumph over the Philadelphia Flyers
, the products of the Flyers' 2003 Draft class finally stood atop the NHL world; only they stood there for the Los Angeles Kings
. Right before the draft last year, Philadelphia was buzzing with rumors, speculation, and enough chaos to send shockwaves through the NHL. The end result, following what in hindsight appears to be a successful weekend at the podium, was a collection of four young forwards that had a tremendous impact on the Flyers' 2011-12 season: Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier, and Brayden Schenn. The two stars that had once defined their organization, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, were on their way out of town and to an eventual Stanley Cup with Los Angeles.