Flyers Finish 2013 Draft Focused on Defense
General Manager Paul Holmgren has had to deliver some awful news to Flyers fans over the last several years.
Most recently, after buying out Danny Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov and talking draft strategy, he spoke candidly about making costly mistakes and being patient with organizational assets.
Looking at the Flyers' track record with effective draft picks sticking around in the organization could lead some to take a few tissues to dry their tears.
The list of more recent Flyers first round picks go as follows: Maxime Ouellet (who?), Jeff Woywitka (gone), Joni Pitkanen (gone), Jeff Carter and Mike Richards (gone), Steve Downie (gone), Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk (gone), Luca Sbisa (gone), Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, and most recently, Samuel Morin 11th overall in this year's draft.
Lest we forget the 1st and 2nd round picks traded away for "win-now" assets in the last several years.
Many of these players proved valuable in a Flyers uniform. Since then, many have gone on to bigger and better things (Stanley Cups?) thanks to the quickness of which they were released.
Lacking organizational patience led to many of these departures. Thankfully, some good building blocks in Couturier, Laughton, and hopefully Morin should help construct a young prospect base for the club.
Morin, a 6'6", 203 lb 17-year-old defenseman, possesses the complete package according to scouts.
Big men don't usually skate well, and shutdown defensemen don't usually make excellent first passes out of the zone, but Morin has those capabilities. It will take time for Morin to develop and crack the big club.
Holmgren decided to continue the defensive mindset by selecting 6'2" Swede Robert Hagg 41st overall. Hagg, according to Hockey's Future, will be a project. He is described as a physical defenseman with an edge. However, his skating and consistency will need to improve.
The Flyers also tabbed Holderness High School product Terrance Amorosa in the 5th round and USHL defenseman David Drake in the 7th round. Those two round out four defensemen taken in this year's draft.
The last two defensemen to ever be drafted by the Flyers and have success with the club could arguably be Janne Niinimaa back in 1993 and Pitkanen in 2002. Both Finns had some success, and both found themselves shipped to Edmonton in a short period of time.
This time around, Chris Pronger joined the scouts and management on the draft floor. Perhaps Pronger could have steered the Flyers in the right direction? Only time will tell.
No grades can truly be doled out over this year's draft just yet. It will take time, especially for the Flyers, to figure out how this one stacks up. No player taken in Sunday's draft will have an immediate impact on the big club next season. Perhaps in two or three years.
Until then, the focus will shift to the 2011 and 2012 drafts that included picks such as Nick Cousins, Marcel Noebels, Anthony Stolarz and Shayne Gostisbehere. Will those notables take the next step and forge a respectable prospect cupboard in Adirondack?
Frustrated Phantoms fans have had to labor through losing season after losing season thanks to horrific organizational depth, and that key word again, patience.
It will be up to Holmgren to keep up on his patience promise. After all, when Holmgren received the boot from GM Russ Farwell in 1991 as head coach of the Flyers, he said this on December 6, 1991...
"I think it's a young team that is only going to get better with time," he said. "Patience has to be part of the solution right now. There have been a lot of changes, and there are a lot of young kids there right now that are very good foundations to build on." (SOURCE)
Eerie. Will those same words be acted upon 22 years in the future?