Ten years ago, the Philadelphia Flyers were by far the worst team in hockey. They only amassed 22 wins and 56 points.
Unfortunately, they also lost out in the NHL Draft Lottery to the Chicago Blackhawks, who would inevitably draft superstar Patrick Kane.
The Flyers wound up landing the second overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Philly got stuck with James van Riemsdyk, who didn’t exactly produce like a second overall pick. After years of underwhelming play, he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2012 in exchange for defenseman Luke Schenn.
Saturday night, the Flyers had a 2.2% chance of landing the number one overall pick. While that didn’t happen, the second-best outcome that could have happened for the team did, as they landed the second overall pick in this year’s draft. This seems like a correction from ten years ago, doesn’t it?
The Flyers have been a fringe playoff team the last few years, they have drafted as high as seven where they landed Ivan Provorov, who is going to be a staple of the Flyers’ blue line for many years.
This year, that will change.
The 2017 NHL Draft class is seen as “weak,” but there are clearly two top prospects, and the Flyers will have the easiest decision of the draft being able to pick whoever isn’t chosen first overall.
Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings and Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads are the two players that are expected go to one and two in the draft, respectively. Both are centers, but they’re different types of players.
Patrick, who most assume is the best overall prospect, has been battling some injuries over the last few years. But in the 2015-2016 season, he scored 41 goals and added 61 assists for 102 points in 72 games played. He also had 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points in 21 playoff games. Current Flyers stud defenseman Ivan Provorov was also on that team with Patrick.
Patrick is a 6’3″, 198 lb. two-way center who is a beast of a prospect. His game is compared to Jonathan Toews, who is consistently one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL.
This past season was a bit of a different story. Patrick only played 33 games, but was able to score 20 goals and 26 assists for 46 points in that span. Patrick missed time in the regular season with an upper-body injury and missed all of the playoffs with a lower-body injury. He has also had sports hernia surgery, which may make him a riskier pick compared to his counterpart in Hischier.
Hischier, who has wormed his way up into the first overall pick debate, is more of a flashy offensive player. In 57 games for the Mooseheads this season, he scored 38 goals and 48 assists for 86 points. He also had a breakout campaign in the World Junior Championships in which he scored seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in 11 games for Switzerland in the U20 division. At 18 years of age, that is a huge feat.
Hischier has been compared to Pavel Datsyuk – an elite level offensive talent with a lot of flash to his game. At 6′ and 179 pounds, Hischier is much smaller than Patrick, but that adds to the elusiveness of his game.
Ron Hextall and the Flyers have lucked into one of these two players who will be an excellent complement to a group of veterans and young guys that the Flyers already have in their system.
Both Patrick and Hischier have a chance to be excellent in the league and the Flyers have an easy decision in taking either of them after the New Jersey Devils make their selection first overall.
This pick will jumpstart the Flyers’ rebuild, and if Patrick or Hischier can prove they belong right at the onset of training camp, expect to see a lot of new faces in the Flyers’ opening lineup next year.
Highlights of Patrick:
Highlights of Hischier: