With Each Embarrassing Loss, the Flyers Inch Closer to a Lottery Pick

Photo Credit: https://www.dailyfaceoff.com/

Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers were handed their eighth straight loss. And to add insult to injury, it was to the tune of 9-3 by the Atlantic Division’s last-place team, the Montreal Canadiens. But this latest defeat should not be considered a fluke, as their last six losses have come against non-playoff-bound teams who will be picking from the lottery.

Now, while most of us probably predicted the season to go this way before the first puck of the 2023-2024 season was ever dropped (seeing that the club is in the middle of a rebuild). I don’t think that anybody would have foreseen that this team of underdogs who showed they could hold their own against some of the best in the league by maintaining third place in the Metro. Division, for over 110 calendar days, would have battled so hard for much of the season just to allow themselves to run out of gas with the finish line in sight.

With time running out, their collapse could not have come at a worse time, as it has seen them go from a guaranteed playoff spot to not even being in the running for a wildcard position in a matter of just two weeks. And with only three games now remaining, the Flyers’ hopes of making the postseason are all but gone, as most teams that have recently moved ahead of them all have a game in hand.

So, with that being said, I’ll allow the team’s head coach, John Tortorella, to figure out why this happened in the off-season and instead focus on what this means for the club moving forward.

Now, I am just as confused and frustrated as I’m sure most of you reading this article are with this team. And I know the words “moving forward” are probably considered a bit of a laughable statement at this point, considering that this team’s last Stanley Cup champs are now in their mid to late 70s, seeing that the franchise last raised the cup NEARLY 50 years ago. But, since Danny Briere was promoted to general manager a little over a year ago, I, for one still feel the team is moving in the right direction. He was dealt a crappy hand filled with bad contracts and no cap space but has since managed to shed salary by dropping dead weight like Kevin Hayes and Ivan Provorov. In doing that, he has managed to garner multiple high-end draft picks for his troubles. I.E., the 1st rounder he used back in 2023 on Oliver Bonk and the one he gained for Sean Walker this year. So, while I know at the present time being a fan of this club seems grim, I assure you the future will be bright.

For instance, I don’t know about you, but I love how Briere took a chance on drafting Matvei Michkov, whose 19 goals and 41 points this season in the KHL blew away a player like the Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov’s former stats who, in his draft plus one season only posted 11 goals and 27 points. Now, I’m not trying to say that Michkov will ever develop to be the annual 40+ NHL goal scorer that Kaprizov is, but at least there’s a chance that he could.

With Briere now at the helm, I believe the team hitting a wall this season will not be a recurring issue. Unlike the Flyers’ previous administration, he knows that you do not waste a first-round pick on defensive-minded players like Coots and Laughton because you can find those types of players later in the draft or in free agency (like he did when he brought in Ryan Poehling, and Garnett Hathaway earlier this season).

That’s why I think that if we are ever to see this team raise the Stanley Cup again, “Dealing Danny” needs to continue to take chances by offering up multiple draft picks from his stockpile in an effort to move up in this summer draft to select a game-changing face of the franchise type player who could assist the Flyers in their efforts to get back to contention as early as next season.

As we all know, the team has multiple first and possibly second-round picks in both this year and subsequent drafts. These additional picks came by way of trading away players like Giroux, Provorov, Sean Walker, and Cutter Gauthier. As well as compensation for losing out on former 1st round pick Jay O’Brien. So, while the Flyers are currently projected to select 12th overall and twenty-something overall this year, which might allow them to obtain a good to great NHL player, if they were to package these draft picks or a mixture of others that they have at their disposal, they could attain someone elite. Someone whose face you could be proud to see hanging off the side of the building next year before walking into the Wells Fargo Center opening night to purchase their jersey.

Now, while I know these types of players are few and far between, this draft class could prove to produce multiple. The first, of course, would be the sensational Macklin Celebrini, but the chances of the Flyers convincing the Sharks, who look destined to get the first overall pick, to give up the opportunity to draft him is slim to none. And while Cayden Lindstrom’s size is impressive, the fact that his point production only increased from 42 last year to 46 points this season doesn’t exactly make me want to rush out and give up that kind of draft capital in order to select him.

Cole Eiserman

So, who’s left? Well, if I had my pick, it would be between two players, the first of which is the US National Development Teams’ Cole Eiserman. Cole is indisputably one of the best snipers of this draft class. And it should be noted that he is also one of the youngest, seeing that if he were born just two weeks later, we would be talking about Eiserman being drafted this time next year. Some scouts have Cole dropping out of the top three players selected this summer because he stands just a smidge under 6’0. But I would advise prospecting teams not to worry about that, seeing that he is already over 200 pounds and shows no problem standing his ground in front of the opposition’s net.

But perhaps the thing I like about Eiserman the most is his ability to create a shot off the pass. Young and talented players like him typically try to do it all on their own because a lot of the time, growing up, they had to in order to win their team’s games, seeing that they were by far the best players on their team. But as most learn, in order to play in the NHL, where everyone was that player growing up, you have to learn to play off the puck.

With these traits, it should come as no surprise when I tell you that Cole’s 118 career goals with Team USA have seen him pass some current NHL greats like Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane, and Auston Matthews on the USNDP’s all-time lists.

So, with there now being no question that he can score, I guess the only unanswered one left is just who he will be doing it for at the next level.

Berkly Catton

The other guy I would suggest being worth moving up at the draft for would-be the Spokane Chiefs’ elusive center, Berkly Catton. Berkly is an 18-year-old center/wing who stands at 5’11 and weighs in at 170 pounds. He already has a complete game that includes the ability to score goals off the rush. As well as possessing the ability to change speed and direction often to keep the defense guessing. But lets not forget that he shows a willingness to drive the puck to the center of the ice. He does so by being one of the best stick handlers in this draft class. In fact, his dangles are so good that they allowed him to lead Canada to a gold medal (where he served as their captain) at the U18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he led all players in that tournament, scoring eight goals and two assists for a total of ten points in only five games played. But that was before this season even started. Once joining back up with the Chiefs this season, Berkly was able to more than double both his goal and point totals from last season scoring 54 goals and 62 assists for 116 points on the year. Now, if you do the math, that means he was averaging an unheard-of 1.71 points per game (P.P.G.). Folks, that’s better than Leon Draisaitl’s 1.64 P.P.G. average, which he was able to produce in his draft year while playing for the Prince Albert Raiders!

And when you draft a player who scores at this rate in junior hockey, I see no need for you to send him back to junior’s next season. I mean, what does he have left to prove? And who there is going to challenge this player to get better? Berkly is an absolute game-changer and would instantly, upon drafting him, make any NHL club better next season.

Remember, the Flyers haven’t had a player of this caliber since maybe Eric Lindros. And the game has changed from its barbaric roots, as much as that hurts me to say. The NHL now is played more wide open without all the holding, tripping, and slashing that went on in the past. This allows the league’s most talented players the opportunity to put on a show each and every night. So, now drafting speed and scoring ability is a must. And these two players would offer Philadelphia all that and so much more. All they need to do now is decide which one they want to pursue.

Lance Green

I’m a lifelong Flyers fan who has been playing the sport of Ice Hockey we all know and love competitively for over 30 years now. I grew up playing in-between the pipes where I was able to take in the whole game and analysis just what the team needed to do to help us win. Over the years I always enjoyed reading and gaining as much knowledge as possible about this great sport, but always thought it lacked something. A players prospective!