Flyers make trade, then draft center Jett Luchanko at No. 13

Flyers GM Daniel Briere

      LAS VEGAS – True to his word, Flyers general manager Daniel Briere, who hinted at moving down in the NHL Draft, did exactly that when he dropped one slot in the opening round to acquire more assets.

      Briere sent the Flyers’ No. 12 overall pick in a trade to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for the No. 13 selection plus a third-round pick in 2025 during Friday night’s first-round of the NHL Draft at The Sphere.

      With the No. 13 choice, the Flyers chose center Jett Luchanko, who doesn’t turn 18 until August. Luchanko posted 74 points in 68 games for the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League this past season.

      The Flyers also traded away their other first-round pick, at No. 32, sending that to Edmonton in exchange for the Oilers’ first-round pick in 2025 or 2026.

      Luchanko led the Storm in scoring but was also effective as a two-way player. He was deadly on the power play, chalking up 30 assists with the man advantage, good for a tie for second in the OHL.

      The Hockey News had Luchanko ranked only No. 29 in its NHL draft prospects report but that didn’t stop Briere from taking a chance.

      “It’s a great organization and I wouldn’t want to be selected anywhere else,” Luchanko said moments he was picked. “It’s just an honor.”

      The Flyers put a little extra into the announcement. They gave the honor to professional boxing announcer Michael Buffer, a Philadelphia native.

      Buffer didn’t disappoint. He used his iconic “Let’s get ready to rumble!” as a preface to the pick.

      “That was an unbelievable experience,” said Luchanko, a native of London, Ontario Canada, with a chuckle. “I’ll never forget that.”

      Briere said he didn’t hesitate to do some trading. He even acknowledged he tried to secure a higher pick but there were no other takers.

      “What happens is there’s a lot of information that you’re gathering,” Briere said after the first round ended.

We didn’t want to move too far back because Jett was our guy that we wanted. We had the feeling when we saw the board coming down that we could move back a little bit. We explored different options. That was the only one that was safe enough and gave us a chance to acquire draft capital.”

      Luchanko is known for his strong skating ability, something the Flyers can use as they look to get younger and faster.

      “It’s probably my strongest asset,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always worked on, always kind of had to my advantage. I think it’s kind of one of the things I use to create space for myself and my teammates.”

      Luchanko disclosed he had some good talks with the Flyers leading up to the draft so the selection didn’t come as a complete surprise.

      “I had a feeling they were interested,” he said. “I didn’t know coming in if they were going to take me or not.”

      In the World 18-and-Under Tournament, Luchanko had seven points in seven games and showed he could play at the international level.

      Asked to characterize his play, the 5-foot-11, 183-pound player said consistency is a big part of it.

      “I just think I’m someone who brings it every night,” he said. “I’m never going to take a day off. I think my biggest strength is my speed and my hockey IQ.”

      Luchanko’s stock has been steadily rising. Scouts rave about his determination. One scout said: “Luchanko is a versatile kid and could be a center at the next level eventually because he’s a smart player who plays well away from the puck and identifies his responsibilities quickly in the defensive zone.”

      Briere was attracted to the player by his overall talent, including the center position.

      “He’s a center, the way he plays, the way he works, the way he’s a complete player,” Briere said. “He’s still very young and he played on an OHL team. He got better and better as the season went on. He’s just starting to tap his potential. Taking a center was an important piece for us.”

      Luchanko was ranked No. 20 by Central Scouting Bureau.

      Some of that ranking might have to do with Luchanko spending a lot of time in the gym.

      “I’ve taken my workouts in the gym very seriously,” he said. “I’ve thrown a lot of time and work into that.”

      Luchanko said he plans to attend the Flyer development camp, which will be held at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, New Jersey next week.

      His cousins are from Philadelphia suburb Kennett Square, so he already has some fans in the area.

      “They’re 20, 30 minutes away,” he said. “They’re all here today. They had me pumped. Shout out to them. I’m really excited.”

      /n

      SHORT SHOTS: Briere said rumors of the Flyers moving up to No. 4 or 5 were pretty far-fetched. . .Saturday’s second day of the draft starts at 11:30 Eastern time. . .The Columbus Blue Jackets and the Flyers agreed to allow Columbus to hang onto the No. 36 pick for this season and send a second-rounder to Philly next year. . .Briere said contract talks with last year’s No. 1 draft pick, Matvei Michkov, are progressing but he doubts anything will be done in time for the Russian to participate in next week’s development camp at Voorhees, New Jersey. Michkov’s availability led to the decision to buy out the final year of Cam Atkinson’s contract, according to Briere. . .The GM said he wasn’t sure whose idea it was to use Buffer for the Luchanko intro but added, “I thought it was a fantastic idea. That was really cool.”. . .Briere said having the draft at The Sphere was a fantastic experience.

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.