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Flyers’ Picks At 22: Claude Giroux, Simon Gagne … And Disappointing German Rubtsov

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Claude Giroux. (AP photo)
Claude Giroux (AP Photo).

The Philadelphia Flyers have struck gold, twice, with the 22nd overall pick in the NHL Draft, but also selected a dud in German Rubtsov.

Claude Giroux in 2006 and Simon Gagne in 1998 are the Flyers’ best picks of the seven times they’ve drafted at 22. The Flyers, in a heartbeat, would take that kind of drafting good fortune next week in Nashville.

Philadelphia picked up the 22nd pick from the Kings via the Blue Jackets in the recent Ivan Provorov trade. The Flyers also have their own seventh overall pick.

Given their rebuilding status, the Flyers need two quality picks, and fast. As in — this draft.

Giroux, of course, is one of the franchise’s all-time great players. He played 1,000 games in 15 seasons in Philadelphia, second most in franchise history behind Bobby Clarke.

He scored 291 goals and 609 assists for 900 points and had a 102-point season in 2017-18. Giroux was traded to Florida in March 2022. He then signed with Ottawa as a free agent before last season.

Giroux returned to the Wells Fargo Center last November as a member of the Ottawa Senators. The standing ovation was loud and long.

Giroux said after the game he “expected to get booed a little bit more. I’ve never done this before, coming back to a team you played for for a long time.

“Just coming in the building and seeing people that work here and faces I’ve known. Just great people.”

Gagne’s Big Goal

Gagne played 691 games over 11 seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. He scored one of the Flyers’ greatest goals, the game-winner in Game 7 against the Bruins in the 2010 playoffs. He scored 264 goals and 271 assists with the Flyers and was plus-140.

Gagne had four seasons with at least 33 goals and had a career-high 47 goals in 2005-06. He led the league with 33 even-strength goals that season. Gagne played two seasons with the Kings, and one season each with the Lightning and Bruins. He won the Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2012.

Gagne now is the general manager of the Quebec Remparts, who recently won the Memorial Cup. Gagne was the assistant coach of the Remparts before being promoted to GM.

On The Other Hand … 

Rubtsov might be the Flyers’ worst 22nd overall pick. He was drafted in 2016 and played two seasons with the Phantoms and played four games with the Flyers in 2020. He played at Sochi in the KHL in 2020-21, and back to the Phantoms for 37 games in 2021-22.

Rubtsov was part of the Giroux trade to Florida in 2022. He played five games with the Panthers’ AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers. He played 18 games this past season for Moscow Spartak in the KHL. 

Brian Boucher was drafted in 1995. He had three stints with the Flyers, including 2010 when they advanced to the Stanley Cup finals. He played six seasons with the Flyers, with a 73-68-19 record. His goals-against average was 2.50 and his save percentage was .904.

Boucher played 13 NHL seasons, with Phoenix, San Jose, Calgary, Columbus, Chicago and Carolina.

A goalie with much less success was Maxime Ouellet, the 22nd pick in 1999. He played 12 NHL games over three seasons. He played two games with the Flyers in 2000-01. He was traded to Washington in the deal that brought Adam Oates late in the 2002 season. Ouellet spent most of his career in the AHL.

Defenseman Blake Wesley was picked in 1979. He played two games with the Flyers that season and 50 games the next season. He played seven NHL seasons, with Hartford, Quebec and Toronto. In 298 games, he had 18 goals and 46 assists.

Defenseman Greg Smyth was drafted in 1984. He played one game with the Flyers in 1986-87 and 49 games in 1987-88. He had one goal and six assists. Smyth played 10 years in the league, with Quebec, Calgary, Chicago, Toronto and Florida. He played 229 games and had four goals and 16 assists.

Other Teams At 22

The best player ever drafted at 22 is Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier in 1974 by the Islanders. Trottier won four Stanley Cups with the Isles, played 1,279 games and scored 1,425 points.

Other notables at 22:

Adam Foote, 1989, 1,154 games played.

Adam Graves, 1986, 1,152 games played.

Rick Kehoe, 1971, 906 games played.

Jordan Eberle, 2008, 846 games played.

Max Pacioretty, 2007, 840 games played.

Olli Maatta, 2012, 612 games played.

The lesson here? You can draft a great player at 22, but you also miss badly.

________

Flyers, In Case You Missed It:

GM Daniel Briere says trade candidate Kevin Hayes still can help the Flyers.

The Flyers expect to meet with Russian forward Matvei Michkov at next week’s draft.

Oliver Moore and Nate Danielson are the Flyers’ picks at 7 in these mock drafts.

Around The National Hockey Network:

Boston Hockey Now: Bruins veteran forward David Krejci could be leaning to retirement.

Buffalo Hockey Now: Sabres keep goaltending options open.

Calgary Hockey Now: If players want out, Flames may be forced to rebuild.

Chicago Hockey Now: Connor Bedard talks about training with Connor McDavid and deep dish pizza.

Colorado Hockey Now: Some possible replacements for defenseman Erik Johnson.

Detroit Hockey Now: Red Wings linked to flurry of trade rumors.

Florida Hockey Now: Former Panthers captain Derek MacKenzie is new assistant coach in Nashville.

Los Angeles Hockey Now: Examining the Kings’ “slow burn” player development.

Montreal Hockey Now: Canadiens could benefit from exodus in Calgary.

New Jersey Hockey Now: Figuring out the Devils’ goaltending situation.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Penguins’ UFA targets.

San Jose Hockey Now: Source says Will Smith is not visiting San Jose before the draft.

Vegas Hockey Now: Did the Golden Knights circumvent the salary cap?

Washington Hockey Now: Renowned AHL coach Mitch Love joining Capitals’ staff.

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