Trying to tank for top draft pick just not worth the trouble

Nolan Patrick

If you walked into your favorite deli and saw a sign that said you had an 18.5 percent chance of winning a hundred gazillion dollars with a lottery ticket, you would quickly plunk down a buck, right?

Of course you would.

But if you were the owner or general manager of a hockey team and knew you had the same percentage to get the first overall pick in the draft, would you want your team to sort of “tank’’ for that purpose?

Maybe not.

See, that sort of thing just isn’t in the DNA of a proud franchise like the Flyers, who happen to have the second-highest winning percentage (behind only the Montreal Canadiens) in the history of the National Hockey League.

While they say be sellers at the Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline and some key parts might be headed elsewhere, that doesn’t mean the Flyers are just going to roll over and repeat their embarrassing alltime-low 56-point season in 2006-2007.

That was the year the Flyers thought they had a great chance of garnering the first overall pick.

Instead, they lost the draft lottery to the fifth-worst Chicago Blackhawks.

The Flyers were relegated to No. 2 and took New Jersey native James van Riemsdyk as a consolation prize.

The Blackhawks? They got Patrick Kane at No. 1 and all he did was lead Chicago to three Stanley Cup championships (2010, 2013, 2015), winning a Hart (MVP) Trophy and becoming the first American to win a scoring title along the way.

This little drama has been repeated other times in the ensuing years. The point being: It’s harder than ever to just lay down and hope you’re going to cash in that big lottery ticket.

In this particular year, the bright shiny object is American forward Jack Hughes, currently competing for the U.S. National Team. That’s generated the cute slogan: “Lose for Hughes.’’

Then there are some who believe Finn forward Kaapo Kakko, who scored in his team’s gold medal win over the United States in the World Junior Championships, might be the better player.

Getting either of these young men would certainly help the Flyers’ long-term cause. But there are no guarantees.

Look no further than what took place at the 2017 draft. The Flyers scored a big win in the lottery by moving up all the way from No. 13 to No. 2.

The Flyers took Nolan Patrick, who has not had a great impact on the team to date. He’s been nagged by injuries and this season was in the midst of a 23-game goal-less streak heading into Saturday afternoon’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

Recently, Philadelphia looked like a team in freefall, going winless for nearly three weeks (0-6-2). Fans at the Wells Fargo Center actually were booing with vigor as the Flyers looked lifeless in Monday night’s 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

This slump, however, has no hint of being intentional. The Flyers aren’t thinking about the draft, they’re thinking about stuff like the job status of interim head coach Scott Gordon, the mood of general manager Chuck Fletcher and what they’re talking about at the water cooler in the offices of Comcast Spectacor.

The Flyers should stick to the business at hand and show management which players are all-in for when the turnaround eventually comes around. Then let the chips fall where they may.


Bobrovsky: No thanks


It looks more and more like goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is doing his best to play his way out of Columbus.

Apparently he’s already making a rather absurd contract request, looking for Carey Price numbers (eight years at $10.5-million a pop).

The other day, there was an incident that had the Blue Jackets telling him to “stay home for a game,’’ which coach John Tortorella was rather tight-lipped about.

Now come whispers that the ex-Flyer goalie might have interest in returning to Philadelphia as a free agent this summer.

Well, there are several reasons why this shouldn’t happen:

>First, there’s this little matter of the fact Bobrovsky left the Flyers with bad feelings on both sides. “Bob’’ basically got pushed out by the ill-fated Ilya Bryzgalov.

>Second, there’s this rather big matter of the fact the Flyers already might have their goaltender for the next 10 years. His name is Carter Hart.

>Third, who wants to pay $10 million bucks for someone who has never won a playoff series? Bobrovsky might have gaudy looking regular-season numbers but the postseason? How about 5-14, with a 3.49 goals-against average and a .891 save percentage?

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About Wayne Fish 2472 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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