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Meltzer's Musings: Best/Worst Flyers Drafts

June 28, 2013, 11:07 AM ET [912 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Best and Worst Drafts in Flyers History

The NHL Draft is an annual rite of speculation, debate and optimism for hockey fans. On Draft day, every high-round selection is a potential NHL star, every mid-round pick has a chance to someday become a regular starter and every low-end pick is a possible sleeper. In reality, it not until about five years have gone by that teams can gauge the real measure of a draft crop’s impact on the club and the league.

While every fan (and general manager) hopes that the club lands a future star in the NHL Draft, the main goal is to establish – or replenish – depth in the organization. Perennial Stanley Cup contenders are built on deep rosters, not just on one or two stars. On the flip side, a series of empty Drafts and too-frequent trading of draft picks for quick fixes and rental players at the NHL level eventually depletes the depth of the system.

When judging a team's Draft class, it is more important to look at the work the scouts did in identifying talent than which NHL team(s) the players played for during their careers.

For instance, the fact that the Flyers traded Peter Forsberg's rights to Quebec in the Eric Lindros trade should not overshadow the tremendous work that scout Inge Hammarström did in identifying Forsberg as a player worthy of an "off-the-board" pick as the sixth overall selection of the 1991 Draft. That year, Central Scouting, the Hockey News and many NHL teams had Forsberg pegged as a late first-round or even early second-round pick.

Here are the chronologically listed the top 10 and bottom five drafts in Philadelphia Flyers history. The best Draft classes produced the greatest depth of future talent that had an impact on the team, and often included future stars at the head of the class. All players who played at least one NHL game are listed.

Top 10

Class of 1969 (Bud Poile GM): Bobby Clarke (2/17), Dave Schultz (5/52), Don Saleski (6/64).

Class of 1972 (Keith Allen GM): Bill Barber (1/7), Tom Bladon (2/23), Jimmy Watson (3/39), Al MacAdam (4/45, traded to Seals in Reggie Leach deal, had a 42-goal season for Minnesota).

Class of 1978 (Keith Allen GM): Behn Wilson (1/6), Ken Linseman (1/7), Dan Lucas (1/14), Glen Cochrane (3/50), Mark Taylor (6/130).

Class of 1979 (Keith Allen GM): Brian Propp (1/14), Blake Wesley (2/22), Pelle Lindbergh (2/35), Lindsay Carson (3/56), Thomas Eriksson (5/98), Tim Kerr (undrafted, signed as rookie free agent shortly after the Draft).

Class of 1982 (Keith Allen GM): Ron Sutter (1/4), Miroslav Dvorak (3/46, 30 years old), Todd Bergen (5/98), Ron Hextall (6/119), Dave Brown (7/140), Magnus Roupé (9/182).

Class of 1983 (Bob McCammon GM): Peter Zezel (2/41), Derrick Smith (3/44), Rick Tocchet (6/121), Pelle Eklund (8/161).

Class of 1990 (Russ Farwell GM): Mike Ricci (1/4), Chris Simon (2/25), Mikael Renberg (2/40),
Terran Sandwith (2/42), Kimbi Daniels (3/44), Chris Therien (3/47), Dan Kordic (5/88), Vycheslav Butsaev (6/109), Tommy Söderström (11/214).

Class of 1991 (Russ Farwell GM): Peter Forsberg (1/6), Yanick Dupre (3/50), Aris Brimanis (4/86), Dmitri Yushkevich (6/122), Andrei Lomakin (7/138, 27 years old), Neil Little (11/226).

Class of 1998 (Bob Clarke GM): Simon Gagne (1/22), Francis Belanger (5/124), Antero Niittymäki (6/168), Tomas Divisek (7/195), Petr Hubacek (9/243), Bruno St. Jacques (9/253).

Class of 2003 (Bob Clarke GM): Jeff Carter (1/11), Mike Richards (1/24), Colin Fraser (3/69), Stefan Ruzicka (3/81), Alexandre Picard (3/85), Ryan Potulny (3/87).


Honorable Mention

Class of 1993 (Russ Farwell GM): Janne Niinimaa (2/36), Vaclav Prospal (3/71), Milos Holan (3/77), Mike Crowley (6/140), Paul Healey (8/192).

Class of 2001 (Bob Clarke GM): Jeff Woywitka (1/27), Patrick Sharp (3/95), Jussi Timonen (5/146), Dennis Seidenberg (6/172), David Printz (7/225).


Bottom 5

Class of 1985 (Bob Clarke GM): On a league-wide basis, 1985 was an average to slightly above average Draft class, with 41.3 percent of the 252 selections playing at least one NHL game and 90 players who played in 400 or more NHL games. The Flyers came away from this Draft with three players who appeared in the NHL: Glen Seabrooke (1/21), Tony Horacek (7/147) and their most successful selection, Gord Murphy (9/189).

Class of 1987 (Bob Clarke GM): On a league-wide basis, 1987 was a below-average Draft class in terms of overall depth, with 35.7 percent of the 252 selections playing in at least one NHL game. However, there were about a dozen future NHL stars interspersed through both the early and later rounds, ranging from second overall pick Brendan Shanahan and 15th overall pick Joe Sakic to future Flyers John LeClair and Eric Desjardins (both second round selections by Montreal) and eighth-round pick Theoren Fleury. The Flyers had 12 picks in this year's draft. Three Flyers draftees -- Darren Rumble (1/20), Jeff Harding (2/30) and Martin Hostak (3/62) -- made it to the NHL. Rumble led the way with 193 NHL games.

Class of 1992 (Russ Farwell GM): The Flyers scouts produced a bumper crop of future NHL players in four of the five drafts that Farwell oversaw (Bob Clarke was re-hired as general manager in 1994 with too little lead time before the Draft, and Farwell remained with the organization for awhile after the change). The exception to the generally strong Farwell drafts was 1992. Although the 1992 Draft is often called one of the weaker crops in the annals of the NHL, it was actually a strong one in terms of depth but a little lacking in future star power. Overall, 47.3 percent (125 of 264 total picks) of all selections played at least one NHL game. The Flyers, who had 10 picks in this draft and thought they had traded their top pick to Quebec as part of the soon-to-be-disputed Eric Lindros trade, pretty much shot blanks in round after round. Seventh overall pick Ryan Sittler did not make it to the NHL. The only Flyers selections who did were later first-round pick Jason Bowen (15th overall) and 10th-round pick Chris Herperger (223rd overall, traded to Anaheim for Bob Corkum in 1996).

Class of 2004 (Bob Clarke GM): The Flyers did not have first-round or second-round picks in this year's Draft but they did have 11 total picks from the third round onward. On a league-wide basis, 43.6 percent (127 of 291) draftees played at least one NHL game. Among the later-round picks who went on to notable NHL careers were Alexander Edler (taken by Vancouver one spot before the Flyers' first turn came up at 92nd overall), Johan Franzén, Tyler Kennedy, Ryan Callahan, Kris Versteeg, Mikhail Grabovski, Troy Brouwer, Mark Streit (now a Flyer), Grant Clitsome and Jannik Hansen. Of the Flyers' 11 picks in this year's Draft, fourth-rounder David Laliberte (11 NHL games), goaltender Martin Houle (one brief NHL relief appearance) and ninth-rounder Tristan Grant (11 NHL games) were the only ones to appear in an NHL game.

Class of 2010 (Paul Holmgren GM): Another Draft where the Flyers did not own a first-round or second-round pick. The 2010 Draft has thus far shaped up to be one of the weaker ones in NHL history -- to date, 40 of the 210 total picks (19 percent) have played at least one game in the NHL. The Flyers held just six picks in the Draft. One selection, fourth rounder Tye McGinn (119th overall), made his NHL debut this season. Two others, forward Michael Parks (5/149) and defenseman Nick Luukko (6/179), are still playing collegiate hockey but do not appear to be on an NHL track in their development. Third-round pick Michael Chaput was traded to Columbus in the Tom Sestito trade. Chaput had a decent AHL rookie season for Springfield in 2012-13. The other two picks, Ricard Blidstrand and Brendan Ranford, were not signed. Blidstrand is playing minor league hockey in Sweden, while Ranford recently signed a minor-league contract with the Texas Stars.

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