No drama this year.
At Wednesday’s NHL Draft Lottery, 13 of 15 teams maintained their positions, including the Philadelphia Flyers. General manager Chuck Fletcher and his team of scouts are now the official owners of the 13th pick at the 2021 Draft, which will be held virtually on July 23-24.
Kraken Make Waves
The only movement came courtesy of the Seattle Kraken. In their first-ever lottery, the Kraken made good on a 10.2 percent chance of moving up one spot. They’ll choose second, behind the Buffalo Sabres, after knocking the Anaheim Ducks down by one position.
The rest of the list remained unchanged after the drawing was complete.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 2, 2021
If Fletcher keeps the pick, it’ll be the first time in franchise history that the Flyers have drafted 13th. In his first year with the Flyers, in 2019, Fletcher originally had the 11th pick, but traded down three spots to take defenseman Cam York at No. 14. For his trouble, he also received the 45th pick in the second round. He then packaged that with the 65th pick, early in the third round, to move up to No. 34, where he grabbed winger Bobby Brink.
In addition to York, the Flyers have hit nicely on a couple of other 14th picks over the years. In 2018, then-GM Ron Hextall selected Joel Farabee in that spot, after acquiring the pick from the St. Louis Blues in the Brayden Schenn trade. And back in 1979, Hall of Fame general manager Keith Allen selected Brian Propp 14th overall.
Propp ranks fourth all-time with 790 games played for Philadelphia, and is second overall in goals (369), third in assists (480) and fourth in total points (849). In that category, he was passed this year by Claude Giroux, who now sits at 858 points.
The handy sort tool at QuantHockey shows us that Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings is the No. 13 pick with the most NHL games played, currently at 1,232 and counting. Craig Janney, a 90s-era playmaker, was the most productive, with 751 points. Phil Russell and Derek Morris tie for the lead among blueliners, with 424 career points each. They both played more than 1,000 NHL games, but land behind Ron Hainsey, who suited up 1,132 times.
Only three goalies have ever been drafted with the 13th pick. One was Anaheim Mighty Ducks Conn Smythe winner Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who finished with 262 wins in 597 career games. In 2019, the Florida Panthers took Spencer Knight with the 13th pick — and he’s already showing great promise at just 20 years old.
Long story short: teams can find value at 13. It’s not guaranteed, but Fletcher said Wednesday that he’s optimistic.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) June 2, 2021
Wide-Open Draft Field
Because scouts were more limited than usual in how much they could watch players live, this year’s draft could serve up some hidden gems.
“It will be interesting to see if teams go with players that they know or have a better comfort level with versus players that potentially have more upside that haven’t been seen as much,” Flyers assistant GM Brent Flahr commented to NBC Sports Philadelphia on Tuesday, before the lottery took place.
Projecting how 18-year-olds will develop both physically and mentally is always a bit of a crapshoot. This year, even moreso. But Flahr feels confident in the Flyers’ scouting research.
Calling this year’s group, “a decent first round with some depth,” where there are options at every position, he feels a good player will be available when it’s time to make the pick.
“Our staff has done a good job,” he said. “Our regional guys stayed in their leagues for the most part. Obviously certain guys traveled as much as they could, but we’ve got quality viewings on everybody with the exception of Ontario (OHL season was canceled because of COVID-19).
“We’ve seen as much as anybody else has and we’ve done whatever we can for video.”
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Flyers Sign Ersson
On Thursday, the Flyers announced that they’ve signed goaltender Samuel Ersson to his entry-level contract.
DONE DEAL: We've signed goaltender Samuel Ersson to a three-year entry-level contract. 📃✍️https://t.co/8ApzYg7nPE
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) June 3, 2021
Drafted in the fifth round in 2018, the 21-year-old just wrapped up a stint as Sweden’s third goalie at the World Championship. He didn’t see any game action as the Swedes went 3-1-3 and failed to advance to the playoff round.
Ersson spent his second season with Brynas of the top-level Swedish Hockey League this year. It was a tough year for his squad. But with Brynas at risk of being relegated to the second-tier Allsvenskan, Ersson won four of his five appearances and posted a 1.30 goals-against average and .949 save percentage to keep his group in the top league again next season.
On June 1, the Flyers also relinquished the rights to two sixth-round picks from the 2019 draft. Winger Egor Serdyuk and goaltender Roddy Ross are now free agents.