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Flyers’ Other First-Round Pick Equally Important as 12th Overall

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(Photo: AP)

For the second year in a row, the Philadelphia Flyers will make two picks in the first round of the NHL Draft. At the time of the 2023 NHL Draft, Matvei Michkov and Oliver Bonk instantly became the Flyers’ two best prospects at their respective positions. The 2024 NHL Draft is just over a month away, and the Flyers are going to need to come close to replicating that success once again.

Following the results of the 2024 NHL Draft Lottery, we know that the Flyers’ first-round pick will have them picking 12th overall. Their other first-round selection, which originally belonged to the Florida Panthers and was acquired in the Claude Giroux trade, is yet to be determined. Assuming the Panthers make quick work of the Boston Bruins in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Flyers will be on the clock again in the late 20s, at the earliest.

Although many draftniks have soured on the 2024 draft class beyond the first 15-20 picks, the truth is that the Flyers can still get a really good player later in the first round. It might even be preferable that Danny Briere and Co. take a swing on the upside rather than the floor – the opposite of what they did with Bonk last year.

Players like Jett Luchanko, Charlie Elick, Ryder Ritchie, and Sam O’Reilly have all earned their draft statuses as potential first-round picks, but they don’t raise the Flyers’ long-term talent level the way the team requires.

Instead, it might be best if the Flyers take a risk on players such as Russian dynamos Nikita Artamonov or Igor Chernyshov, the 6-foot-7 Dean Letourneau, a productive but undersized Teddy Stiga, or a highly-skilled USHL player in Matvei Gridin. There’s also Jesse Pulkkinen, a 6-foot-6 Finnish over-ager defenseman, and Emil Hemming, a prototypical winger who can score and already plays in Finland’s Liiga.

Whether the Flyers play it safe or take a risk is secondary to the true importance of their extra first-round pick. More than anything, they need to draft a player they’re sure can and will contribute to the NHL team for years ahead. That is, being a penalty kill specialist, a tight-checking bottom-six forward, an elite faceoff taker, or something of that ilk.

Not being able to do that in the past is why the Flyers are in this position today.

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