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Flyers MUST Get This Draft Pick Right

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Cutter Gauthier, Philadelphia Flyers
Cutter Gauthier, a center/left winger, is among the highly regarded prospects the Philadelphia Flyers are considering with the No. 5 overall pick.

Barring a trade, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher will step to the microphone in Montreal next Thursday and announce the team’s first-round selection with the fifth overall pick.

The Flyers must get this pick right, must get an impact player who turns into an All-Star down the road.

Magnifying the importance of the pick: The Flyers have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, have won just one playoff series in the last 10 years, and do not have a second-round selection because it was dealt to Arizona to take Shane Gostisbehere. SMH. (Gostisbehere had 14 goals and 51 points — both were the second-highest totals in his career — for the Coyotes this season.)

Again, there is no margin for error with this draft pick.

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Here are some of the players the Flyers are considering at No. 5 overall, if available: center/left winger Cutter Gauthier, defensemen Simon Nemec and David Jiricek, and right winger Joakim Kemell. All of the players, except for Kemell, are expected to be NHL-ready in 2023-24, scouts say.

I did not include center Shane Wright, left winger Juraj Slafkovsky, or center Logan Cooley because they are all expected to be gone by the time the Flyers make their selection. The Flyers, of course, could trade up to get one of the three players.

Or they could trade down, get an extra draft pick, and hope someone like center/right winger Matt Savoie, right winger Jonathan Lekkerimaki or Kemell are still available with a later selection.

From Bernier to Patrick

In franchise history, the Philadelphia Flyers have had just seven draft picks in the first five choices:

2017 (No. 2 overall): Nolan Patrick, a center who turned out to be a bust through no fault of his own. Because of numerous injuries, including concussions, Patrick has not been productive. He will be 24 in September and is now trying to make a comeback in Vegas.

2007 (No. 2 overall): James van Riemsdyk, who has scored 288 career goals during a very good career. Unfortunately for the Flyers, the left winger’s best years were in Toronto.

2002 (No. 4 overall): Joni Pitkanen, a defenseman who spent just three years with the Flyers and had just a so-so career.

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1990 (No. 4 overall): Mike Ricci had a solid 16-season career in which he had 605 points, including 243 goals, in 1,099 games. He spent just two seasons with the Flyers before being traded to Quebec in the mega-deal that brought Eric Lindros to Philly.

1982 (No. 4 overall): Ron Sutter. The center was a good player who spent the first nine of his 19 seasons with the Flyers. Never made an All-Star team.

1975 (No. 1 overall): Mel Bridgman, a hard-working center who was a warrior on the ice. He played 14 years, including seven in Philly, and had 252 goals. He never made an All-Star team but was a great leader.

1967 (No. 2 overall): Serge Bernier, a center, had only a cup of coffee with the Philadelphia Flyers and became a superstar in the WHA. His best contribution for the Flyers? He was part of a trade to L.A. that landed the Flyers Bill “Cowboy” Flett and Ross Lonsberry, important members of their first Stanley Cup championship team in 1974.

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R M

I wish Fletcher was not making this pick, that we had in place a top shelf GM to pick at # 5. Plus, a GM who can wrestle New Jerseys’ # 2 Pick for three players such as Prov, Konecny, and Frost (or even Farabee, as his surgery changes his projection going forward from potential very good player to average or even early retirement, so yeah, include him to go get Slafkovsky at # 2, and pick Jirick or Nemec at # 5. Unfortunately Fletcher is far too weak a GM to pull this sort of brilliance off.

SpectrumSection51

Why do I have the feeling that somehow the Flyers will mess this up? I remember the comment by a hockey insider before the draft that “Patrick has had an injury every year since he was 13.” The Flyers took him anyway. Laid-back, passionless player. I wonder about his headaches. It killed me watching Makar in the playoffs, knowing we passed over him. Then there’s picking Ricci over Jagr. Yes, this is a critical draft for the Flyers but my confidence is not high.

Sam Carchid

I understand your concerns. They have been just mediocre with most picks, though the Giroux pick was off the charts. To me, this would be the best-case scenario: They trade down, get Matt Savoie with a later first-round pick AND add a second-rounder. That may be wishful thinking.

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