VOORHEES, N.J. – For those wondering if the Flyers will stick with – and not trade — their No. 5 pick in the July 7-8 NHL Entry Draft, the answer is a definite maybe.
During a pre-draft press briefing at the Flyers Training Center on Wednesday, general manager Chuck Fletcher indicated he’s most likely going to hold on to his selection mainly because moving that pick really has no precedent in league history.
Fletcher has made it known he’s not looking to acquire veteran talent for a quick fix at this juncture. He just hired a new head coach, John Tortorella, and the GM wants to see what he can do with the talent already at hand.
All that will be in Fletcher’s thinking when he sits down at the draft table on the night of July 7 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
“If we’re going to trade the pick outright, it needs to be a player in a certain age group,’’ Fletcher said. “It would have to be a player who can help us win now but also win for several years.
“I don’t think we’re looking to bring in someone in their late 20s, early 30s. Certainly I’m speaking to every team in the league, trying to ascertain what the value of that pick is. If somebody has designs on it and it’s a fair offer. . .we have to consider everything.’’
Fletcher didn’t rule out the possibility of moving down in the draft to perhaps pick up an additional pick, like maybe one in the second round. The Flyers do not have a second-round pick at the moment because that was part of last year’s Shayne Gostisbehere with the Coyotes.
The GM doesn’t want to tip his hand regarding which prospect the Flyers might have their eyes on. As far as filling a need at a certain position, he’s probably going to stick with the usual policy of “best player available.’’
“We’re looking at a player at No. 5 – a forward or a defenseman – that has a skill set that can help us for many years,’’ Fletcher said. “We’re open to either position. There are some excellent defensemen, excellent forwards. Certainly we’re looking for talent at the top of the draft.’’
Assistant general manager Brent Flahr, who oversees the Flyers’ scouting department, said he has a pretty good idea where the top five-to-10 players rank.
“We’ll have a pretty good idea by next week,’’ Flahr said. “There are still some unknowns. But we have a grouping of players we’re pretty sure we’re talking about we’re evaluating from.’’
Can we reckon a player of this talent level will be close to NHL-ready next season?
“It depends on the player, to be honest,’’ Flahr said. “Some players are more physically ready. There are a couple kids who might need a little more time to get stronger. But some of these kids potentially should be ready in a year.’’
Flahr also doesn’t want to reveal any “company secrets’’ about the potential pick.
“You’re just trying to get some dirt out of me,’’ he said with a chuckle. “I’m not going to tell you. In reality, there’s a grouping of players there. We’re at the mercy of the teams ahead of us a little bit we have a couple players targeted that we hope are there at No. 5 and if that’s the case, we’ll make that decision.’’
Fletcher quickly added: “We could use everything. Center, wing, defenseman.’’
These are the top 10 player in the draft, according to The Hockey News:
>1. Shane Wright, C, Kingston (OHL).
>2. Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS (Finland).
>3. Logan Cooley, C, USA U18 (NTDP).
>4. Simon Nemec, D, Nitra (Slovakia).
>5. David Jiricek, D, Plzen (Czech).
>6. Joakim Kemell, RW, JYP (Finland).
>7. Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg (WHL).
>8. Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg (WHL).
>9. Cutter Gauthier, LW, USA U18 (NTDP).
>10. Ryan Chesley, USA U18 (NTDP).
Flahr raised the possibility the Flyers could move back in the draft if the circumstances were right.
“We might move back a couple of spots if we’re confident,’’ Flahr said. “If it goes a certain way and we can move back and gain certain assets and still get a player rated (a bit lower), we’ll potentially do that. As we get closer to the draft, we’ll get more information on what players are looking to do.’’
Having opened that door, Fletcher sort of moved quickly to close it.
“When was the last time a team traded back from No. 5?’’ he said. “Luke Schenn? That’s the only name we came up with. It’s hard because I assume you have to have a pretty bad season to earn a No. 5 pick. . .it’s still the best way of acquiring top-end talent.
“So to trade, it’s a chance to fix one long-term hole in your organization. How much do you need to get back to move from five to whatever?’’