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Flyers GM Ron Hextall (AP Photo)

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Flyers Offseason Post: 2018 Draft Preview

The draft lottery is complete, and the table is set.

Vancouver once again is denied by a bundle of ping pong balls. While the Philadelphia Flyers had no chance at securing a lottery pick like last year, they should get a solid prospect or two from a very deep draft class.

The picks in Ron Hextall’s pocket sit at 14th and 19th overall – two top 20 options.

“It’s a solid draft,” he said, in his exit interview after the season. “We’ve got our meetings coming up. I’ve seen enough players where it’s a good draft and we’re going to get a couple of good players if we make those picks. In terms of options, it gives you more options. If you want to move up, I would envision having the chance to move up. And we’re a little bit more defined in terms of the pieces that we have, at least to have a good chance of playing. So it narrows the scope a bit where you say if we move up to this spot, we can get this player who’s a good fit for the group of prospects that we have.”

NHL mock drafts have the Flyers choosing Joel Farabee at #14, an American left wing committed to Boston University for the fall. His most notable trait is his excellent hockey IQ and passing.

Farabee played with Oliver Wahlstrom and Jack Hughes, a 2019 prospect, on a line at the U-18 World Championship, posting eight points (four goals) in a silver medal result.

The idea of a trade up is intriguing, because the Flyers would benefit from some forward help very soon. High end talent like Svechnikov or Zadina is a pipe dream. However, 8th or 9th overall could win Oliver Wahlstrom. He’s a scoring winger: something the Flyers desperately need.

Wahlstrom is my top target for Philadelphia.

He scored 47 goals in just 60 games in the U-18 USA developmental program. He stands at 6’1”, and just over 200 pounds. Scouts say he has an NHL shot, and good skating. If the opportunity is there, Hextall needs to consider him.

That isn’t to say Farabee isn’t a great option. He scored 33 goals himself in that same U-18 league. The hockey IQ creates goals and chances.

But the Flyers need Wahlstrom’s elite shot.

With Giroux, Voracek and Patrick in the top-6, the playmakers are there to gift wrap 25 plus goals.

Looking at other options, it’s hard to see Hextall taking a defenseman with the #14. There are a handful of quality d-men, but the current pipeline has plenty of those in stock.

I also wouldn’t mind a teammate of Morgan Frost’s, Barrett Hayton.

Hayton is a pass-first center who can excel at special teams and plays smart, much like Couturier. He projects to be a solid two-way top-9 forward.

Hextall seems entirely committed to the idea of building from within. Does another draft day trade go against that philosophy?

A trade up would no doubt include both first round picks, the #14 and #19. It’s going to cost more than that to get into the top 8, especially when trading with a team that needs a blue chip prospect.

A theory: trade with Chicago, who holds the 8th overall pick. The Hawks could use a young defense prospect, and the Flyers are as well off as anybody there. For the superstitious bunch, Selke finalist Sean Couturier was chosen 8th.

Hextall has his most important offseasons to look forward to these next two years, and it starts here. This is where the team takes that next step, from bubble status to contender.

Evan Watson
Evan Watson

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