Flyers continue to stay trade active on draft’s second day

      LAS VEGAS – For a second straight day, the Flyers continued their trend to not stand pat.

      Instead, general manager Daniel Briere went all in again on Saturday. After making two deals involving both his first-round picks in Friday’s opening round, Briere came back and made two more noteworthy transactions on the concluding day of the 2024 NHL Draft at The Sphere.

      First, he picked up a second second-round pick with the No. 59 selection, then made another move to acquire the No. 107 choice because he did not have a pick in the third round.

      Both Saturday deals were a bit complex.

      The Flyers acquired pick No. 59 in the draft from the Nashville Predators in exchange for pick No. 77 plus Minnesota’s third-round pick in 2025, which the Flyers acquired in the Friday deal that had Philadelphia send its No. 12 pick to Wild in exchange for the No. 13 spot.

      Later, Briere made another swap, sending picks No. 150 and 177 to Calgary and then using the No. 107 option for Finnish forward Heikki Ruohonen.

      Clearly, the Flyers were trying to improve their standing in the draft and acquired players they think will fit into their rebuilding plan.

      About the only thing that went according to plan in the early rounds was the selection at No. 51 of Finnish center Jack Berglund, son of former NHL defenseman Christian Berglund (86 games with New Jersey and Florida).

      The Flyers completed their day by taking USHL standout Noah Powell at No. 148; CKSA (Russia) forward Ilya Pautov at No. 173 and defenseman Austin Moline from Minnesota high school competition at No. 205.

      Assistant general manager Brent Flahr, who oversees the scouting department, gave the impression the Flyers checked off most of the things on their shopping list, starting with the selection of Jett Luchanko at No. 13 on Friday.

      “He’s a guy who really rocketed up our charts,” Flahr said. “He’s an extremely high character kid, very driven. The details to his game are high end. He’s a guy we’re really excited about.”

      As for Berglund, there’s potential to play in the NHL at some point as well.

      “Great hockey sense, very smart,” Flahr commented. “Footspeed will have to come but he’s a big power center. Really strong on the puck down low. He can kill penalties, win faceoffs. He’s taken huge strides to where he was a year ago.”

      Berglund has those hockey genetics and father-son talent has shown positive results down the line in the NHL.

      “I’m pretty smart,” he said with all modesty. “All my game is coming from my head really. I’m a smaller player on the ice. I protect the puck. I always compete and try to help the team win.”

      Some fatherly advice should help as well.

      “He just told me to enjoy this,” the younger Berglund said. “It’s really great to have his support here (at the draft). I’m really happy to have him here by my side. He’s helped me from childhood.”

      Berglund said he’s headed back to Sweden with hopes of getting in top shape and cracking one of the Sweden Hockey League’s adult team lineups.

      Gill needs to get bigger and stronger but there’s still time to see advances in height and weight.

      “He has a ways to go physically,” Flahr said. “But he’s another player who moved up our charts quickly. He retrieves pucks well, can skate, defends, too.”

      At some point, Gill would like a shot at making the Flyers.

      “Yeah, it’s a great organization,” he said. “Great staff, great development people there. They give us everything we need to have success.”

      Gill hails from the Maritimes area of Canada. When asked to name a player he might relate to from that region, he didn’t even blink.

      “Yeah, (Flyer captain) Sean Couturier,” he said. “He’s kind of a Maritime guy. That’s a guy that comes to mind.”

      Gill met with Flyer officials before the draft and had a feeling he might be headed to Philadelphia.

      “I thought I had good conversations with them all throughout the season,” he said. “Met with them earlier this week so I had a good feeling about it. Obviously the meeting went really well. I kind of had a good feeling about it.”

      The Flyers are looking for players who can handle the game in all situations. Gill seems to fit that bill.

      “I think my vision IQ helps me out a lot,” he said. “Maybe to use it in all situations. It helps me on breakouts to contribute offensively.”

      Ruohonen, Powell, Pautov and Moline also have shown promise.

      “He (Ruohonen) is a big strong center, can really shoot the puck,” Flahr said of Ruohonen. “He’s taking a different path, (eventually) playing for Harvard. Happy to get him where we did.”

      On Powell, Flahr said: “He’s dedicated himself. His game took a huge step skating. His game just went to another level. Has a physical presence.”

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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.