MONTREAL – With the NHL Entry Draft going live for the first time since 2019 due to the pandemic, there feels like a bit more energy in the air, with rumored trades garnering a lot of the headlines.
The Flyers aren’t exempt from this gossip. And for good reason. With a void in the second round (due to last year’s trade of Shayne Gostisbehere to Arizona), Philadelphia could be looking to trade down from their first-round, fifth overall pick and pick up a second-rounder in the package.
Things could get very interesting when the draft gets underway with the first round on Thursday night at Bell Centre.
General manager Chuck Fletcher hasn’t ruled out that possibility, probably because the draft appears to be fairly equal in talent through the first dozen or so picks in the opening round.
Fletcher was asked if that level field could make it easier to trade down sort of knowing they could get their targeted prospect at a later slot.
“That really hasn’t been the focus,’’ said Fletcher after the completion of the NHL general managers’ meeting at the Sheraton Hotel on Wednesday afternoon. “Getting prepared to pick No. 5 and also trying to get the value of what the fifth pick would be in different areas, that’s been the focus. If we’re able to pick up a second that would be incidental to the more important question of what we do with the fifth pick. It’s been good, we’ve had meetings for a couple days now and we’re prepared to go tomorrow.’’
Traditionally, top five picks are not traded but the situation is always evolving.
When there isn’t a clear-cut list of top prospects, things can change. That came up in last week’s press briefing in Voorhees, N.J.
“Whether that creates more movement or less movement, I’m not sure,’’ Fletcher said. “I think there have been some interesting conversations and everyone’s trying to get a sense on where everyone’s at and where the value of that pick (at No. 5) is.’’
As he mentioned in a pre-draft press briefing, Fletcher would like to add a second-rounder to his roster of picks. But he hedged a bit when it came to whether he would make a headline deal.
“I think the priority is making sure we do well with the first pick,’’ Fletcher said. “If we can still get a great first-round pick and find a way to get a second-round pick, get another player or another prospect, sure. But I think that’s secondary to actually looking at the top end in the draft.’’
All that considered, Fletcher thinks there will some significant trade activity during opening night on Thursday but maybe more so during rounds two through seven on Friday.
“I do think there will be quite a few trades this weekend,’’ Fletcher said. “What that means with draft slots – we’re open to moving five and yet I think a five has been moved once in 20 years. There’s certainly a lot of chatter and I do expect some trades.’’
The Flyers’ order of selection for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft:
>Round 1: Fifth overall.
>Round 2: No selection.
>Round 3: 69th overall.
>Round 4: 101st overall.
>Round 5: 133rd overall.
>Round 6: 165tth overall.
>Round 7: 197th overall.
>Update on Fedotov
There’s been a bit of a firestorm over the detention of Flyers goaltending Ivan Provorov by Russian officials concerning his military service status.
When Provorov announced his attention to quit his KHL team and join the Flyers for the upcoming season, government officials launched a manhunt, located him and made it clear that because the team was affiliated with the military, he still had to complete his commitment.
“I think it best that I limit my public comments,’’ Fletcher said. “Obviously it’s a sensitive situation. We’re doing our best to stay abreast of developments. That’s probably the best way to leave it.’’
To this point, it doesn’t appear the NHL is going to jump in and lend a hand in this matter. Fletcher said questions regarding this matter should be referred to NHL commmissioner Gary Bettman or his right-hand man, Bill Daly.
>Plan B if Ellis isn’t ready
Defenseman Ryan Ellis’ recovery from a season-long pelvic area injury remains a bit of a question mark. If he’s not fully recovered and ready to go by the start of the season, are the Flyers making contingency plans?
“Clearly we have a hole we need to fill on defense,’’ Fletcher said. “That’s regardless of Ryan’s status. We traded Justin Braun at the end of the year. We have some young players who can compete but I think we’re going to have to work hard here the next seven to 10 days (free agency opens July 13) to see if there are some fits on the blue line that we can bring in for depth and depending on Ryan’s situation, we might need a player to play some minutes, too.’’
>Preseason schedule announced
The Flyers have announced their preseason schedule, which will consist of six games – three home and three away.
>Saturday, Sept. 24: Boston at FLYERS.
>Tuesday, Sept. 27: FLYERS at Buffalo.
>Wednesday, Sept. 28: Washington at FLYERS.
>Saturday, Oct. 1: FLYERS at Boston.
>Sunday, Oct. 2: FLYERS at New York Islanders.
>Tuesday, Oct 4: New York Islanders at FLYERS.