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Unsurprisingly, the teams near the bottom rankings are arguing for a June draft, where only the bottom five will have a shot at the first overall selection. The teams competing for the playoffs represent the opposite. Either way, the 2020 draft will be a unique challenge for the general managers of the league. The Philadelphia Flyers are currently expected to select 26e global; these are their needs by position.
The Flyers were one of the deepest attacking groups in the league this season. The addition of Kevin Hayes to the final season has solidified the depth of the team at the center, even with Nolan Patrick unable to play this year. The wingers were also strong, with young players like Nicholas Aube-Kubel and Joel Farabee playing important roles in the lineup. The group was a positive, but the prospect pool could use an infusion of high-end talent now that many have graduated for the big show.
The team could also use the project to pay a certain salary. The Flyers have lived very close to the ceiling throughout the season and with an increase in the ceiling for next season in doubt, the team may be forced to make tough choices.
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Ideally, they could pack a high-paying player like James van Riemsdyk or Shayne Gostisbehere with their first-round pick and a prospect of placing in the top ten. This project has depth, but there is a decline after the first dozen prospects. If the Flyers want cheaper, younger players while simultaneously replacing lost production, that would be the game.
The Flyers are in possession of one of the young defensive hearts in the league and after having made a first round choice during last year’s draft on defender Cam York, the back end is also not a need obvious. They have some players who need a new contract, but the draft should not give a defender who can play immediately at the NHL level, even in the first round.
If the Flyers intend to select a defender first, it may be up to them to stay in their place between the mid and late 1920s. This project has a few high level defenders, but there is also the potential to blue line to be near the end of the first. The advantage of not having glaring needs is that it eliminates the need to select a specific position.
Carter Hart is the team’s starting goaltender and that shouldn’t change anytime soon. His recent level of play coupled with his potential has made his job to lose. While Brian Elliot is Hart’s replacement, there is a plethora of young goalies in the system from which the Flyers can choose.
The goalkeeper is one of the most difficult positions to foresee when it comes to development, so it’s never a bad idea to fill up on prospects for such a pivotal role. That said, only one goalkeeper is seriously discussed as a first-round prospect, Yaroslav Askarov. It would not be surprising to see the Flyers take on another goalkeeper at some point in this project, but with Hart in place, it is unlikely that they will invest significant project capital in the pipeline.
Best player available
There are several directions the Flyers could take in this project that could all make sense. Exchanging for a forward impact while cutting wages would be a major victory for a team with big players who should raise as soon as possible. The acquisition of another top-notch defender would provide flexibility with the impending Seattle expansion and some key defenders at risk of exposure.
Selecting a goalie is the least likely plan, at least in the first round, but if the best draft goalkeeper is still available in the late 1920s, the Flyers can jump. If the plan is to stay in their original draft position, taking the best player available is a safe course of action when there are so few holes on the Philadelphia roster.