Flyers GM Briere set to roll the draft dice in Las Vegas

Flyers general manager Daniel Briere

      VOORHEES, N.J. – If you’re going to roll the dice with all your chips on an 18-year-old who might be still in high school, you may as well do it in Las Vegas.

      That’s the site of this year’s NHL Draft and the Flyers, looking to make a big splash for a second straight year, get to choose with the No. 12 overall pick when things get underway Friday night at the new Sphere in Sin City.

      During Thursday’s pre-draft press conference at the Flyers Training Center, general manager Daniel Briere said he’s hopeful of finding someone as talented as last year’s No. 1 selection, Russian forward Matvei Michkov.

      Fortunately, the first-round projects appear to have pretty good talent all the way up to around the 17th pick.

      The Flyers also have the Florida Panthers’ No. 1 pick, which will be either No. 31 or 32 depending on the outcome of the Stanley Cup Final.

      “It’s tough to figure out,” Briere admitted. “There’s a lot of good players. Especially in the top 16, 17 of the draft. It feels like we’re going to get a good player. That’s how we feel.

      “It might be the same player at 7, 8, 9 that we might get at 12 or maybe at 15, 16. So it’s a tough one to predict, probably more than in the past. You know, looking at rumors and mock drafts that are out there, it feels like obviously number one (Macklin Celebrini), everybody knows. Two, three, four maybe even five seems to have the same players. But after that it’s all over the place. It’s exciting when it’s that way. It’s exciting that there are a lot of different possibilities.”

      Celebrini looks like a lock for the NHL Lottery-winning San Jose Sharks.

      After that, there are several very talented prospects, including Michigan State winter Artyom Levshunov, Russia’s left wing Ivan Demidov and Russia’s Anton Silayev.

      The Flyers might have their eye on the No. 11-projected player, center Tij Iginla, the son of former NHL great Jarome Iginla.

      Philadelphia took a bit of a gamble with Michkov last year because he’s got two more years left on his contract with the KHL in Russia. But the Flyers could come right back and roll the dice again.

      “It’s funny, you’re evaluating all kinds of things when it comes to that,” Briere said. “When you take a swing at a guy that has a really high ceiling, you counter that with how much risk you’re leaving out there. We’re all for it and we showed it last year with Matvei, that we’re willing to go there.

       “If there’s something that makes sense, kind of the same way, we will. But it’s not just the talent, there’s all kinds of things that come into play. Talent level is an important one, the skating. It’s never going to be about that. Position. A center in general has more value. Centers are a lot tougher to find. You have to respect that as well when you’re making your pick.”

      It’s no secret the Flyers will need come help at center in the years to come so they might as well plan ahead.

      “Yes, if they (forwards) are equal and we have a hard time deciding between two players, one’s a wing, one’s a center, we might lean in to a center because let’s face it, we’re lacking centers coming up throughout the organization,” Briere said. “We haven’t tried to hide that, it’s a reality. But we’re also not going to reach out – if there’s someone who makes too much sense, even if it’s a winger – because we have a lot of good young players on the team. We still want to swing hard if the chance is there.”

      What is Briere looking for with this draft?

      “Diversity,” he said. “You can’t have all the same (traits). That’s my belief. There are teams that have tendencies. I hope that we can diversify and bring all types of players. Smaller, bigger, faster. More hockey sense. Those are probably some of the things we look at. The hockey sense is an important one. The speed. Position. You also try to diversify as much as possible. My belief is early in the draft you try not to have the position dictate too much on the player you want to go and take. As you get deeper into the draft, you try to fill needs that you might have for the organization a little bit more.”

Avatar photo
About Wayne Fish 2473 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.