When it comes to Flyers’ draft talk, don’t dismiss that old “like father, like son’’ cliché out of hand.
While making a firm prediction on a No. 23 overall pick remains highly speculative at best, there are some who believe the Flyers just might take left wing Ridly Greig – if he’s still available — with their first pick in the NHL Entry Draft on Oct. 9.
The significance of that?
Ridly’s dad, Mark, not only once played for the Flyers but now is a member of their scouting staff.
No matter, insists general manager Chuck Fletcher.
He’s keeping an open mind, not showing a bias either way. He’s not going to shy away because of the family ties and possible public scrutiny due to them and he’s also not going to let favoritism enter into the discussion.
The elder Greig spent five full seasons in the Flyers organization (1998-2003), playing 30 games with them in the NHL (five goals, 12 points) and 348 more games with the then-Philadelphia Phantoms (now Lehigh Valley).
Now there’s talk of a second generation of the Greig family playing in Philadelphia. The Flyers could use a speedy winger and Ridly fits that profile.
In fact, Ridly has been a “Flyer’’ so to speak since he was about 12 years old. He was a “runner’’ during the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia.
“Every decision we make is going to be in the best interest of the Flyers,’’ Fletcher said during a media conference call on Tuesday. “There’s not going to be any favoritism or drafting a player because of his last name.
“But if there’s a player who’s clearly the best player on the board, then we’re doing our organization a disservice by not selecting him. We’ll do what we have to do to protect the Flyers and take the best player available. Period.’’
Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr runs the Flyers scouting department and agrees with that assessment.
“It’s a unique situation,’’ Flahr said. “He was a runner at our draft table a number of years ago. We have a lot of internal knowledge of the kid, his character, all the details of the player.
“We’ve had a number of conversations with Mark. He was really uncomfortable with us scouting him (Ridly) this year, worrying about the backlash from you guys (the media). But at the end of the day, if he’s the best player for the Flyers and that’s a conversation we have to have, we’ll deal with it.’’
Ridly, 5-foot-11, 164 pounds, played for the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) last season. He’s been ranked 20th or higher in several mock drafts.
“He (Ridly) was a Flyers fan growing up,’’ Flahr said. “Claude Giroux is his favorite player. So if we draft him, I’m sure we can figure it out.’’
Things are more than a little different this year, starting with the fact the draft will be done remotely due to the pandemic.
Fletcher believes he will hang on to his top pick and use it. But he’s also keeping an open mind to a trade, either up or down on the draft board.
“Obviously you will consider moving anything if the trade makes sense,’’ Fletcher said. “Certainly this year, it’s a pretty good first round. We should have the ability to draft a pretty talented player with that pick.
“I think we’re going in with the mindset that we are using the pick, but obviously when you talk to teams, if there’s something that we can do that would make our team better that would make sense, we’ll look at that.’’
The start of free-agent signings comes right after the draft and with the uncertainty of the length of the offseason, there could be a flurry of activity right off the bat.
When asked if he might be willing to include his top pick in a package to trade for a high-skilled, scoring forward, Fletcher sounded like all possibilities are open.
“When I’ve been calling around to other managers, we’re all trying to figure that out,’’ Fletcher said. “We’ve already seen some trades and I’m sure there will be more trades between now and the draft. I expect on October 9th, there will be some players getting signed pretty quickly. I can also foresee there will be players into late October, November still looking for opportunities.
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