Flyers Likely to End Up With One of Two Top Centermen in Draft

The Flyers made NHL history on Saturday night, becoming the first team to advance to the second pick via the draft lottery from as low as No. 13 overall.

They had just a 2.4 percent chance of advancing 11 spots. And somehow, they did it.

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This is only the second time in franchise history the Flyers will be drafting second overall. They last time came in 2007, when they chose James van Riemsdyk.

Only once in their entire history have they had the No. 1 overall pick.

That came in 1975, when they chose Mel Bridgman. There's a huge asterisk attached to that.

Then-general manager Keith Allen traded up from 18th - after the Flyers won their second Stanley Cup - and sent Bill Clement, Don McLean plus that pick to Washington to draft Bridgman.

Now, unless the Flyers deviate from the obvious next month at the NHL draft in Chicago, they will choose either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier. 

New Jersey owns the top pick and has the choice between the two top centermen.

"I think they're both great players and certainly different," Devils general manager Ray Shero told reporters this weekend. "One's from Switzerland [Hischier] and one's from Canada [Patrick].

"Patrick certainly has lineage … He's been through injury this year, but everybody knows he's a heck of a player. [Alex] Galchenyuk in his draft year (2012) didn't really play.

"You get a Swiss kid, you see him, a centre iceman whose got size and talent. For us, as a franchise, you've got some real good players here."

Flyers GM Ron Hextall declined to talk about either player.

NHL Central Scouting had Patrick and Hischier in a near dead heat in their final rankings, with Patrick getting the edge at No. 1.

Scouts say both  players can make it to the NHL this fall. Yet given Ron Hextall's patient, careful approach - think of Travis Konecny - it's entirely possible that whomever the Flyers draft will remain in juniors this season for maturation purposes.

That's always been Hextall's thinking.

TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie is a lifelong devotee to the draft and has seen both players.

"There's no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Nolan Patrick needs to play in the NHL next season," McKenzie told CSNPhilly.com.

"I believe his development would be stunted by going back to the WHL for a fourth year of junior hockey. Patrick only missed being eligible for last year's draft by four days, so he otherwise could've have been drafted into the NHL last season."

The case for or against Hischier playing now is a bit different because of his size. He's 176 pounds - 22 pounds lighter than Patrick - and could use more muscle, much like Konecny after he was drafted and sent back to juniors in 2015.

"I wouldn't imagine it would necessarily be a bad thing for Hischier to have another year of junior hockey," McKenzie said.

"But his speed, agility, tenacity, skill to make plays and score goals and compete hard would suggest to me he's got a much better than 50-50 chance to be in the NHL next season. In fact, and I could be wrong on this, I would bet he's in the NHL next season."

Some scouts have compared Hischier to Washington's Nicklas Backstrom, which says tons about his overall ability.

Mike Morreale, NHL.com's draft expert, said he expects both Patrick and Hischier to play in the NHL this fall.

One more thing: Because the Flyers landed the second pick, they will now choose at the top of every round in the draft instead of the middle, further guaranteeing them the opportunity to draft better players.

Giroux Foundation
The Claude Giroux Foundation announced the distribution of more than $70,000 raised through charity events to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, Still Strong Foundation, Silver Springs School and Fondation de l'Hôpital Notre-Dame Hospital Foundation.

"It's a real privilege and honor to lend my support, especially to children," Giroux said. "Making a difference in a child's life is something I take great pride in and will continue to do so for years to come."

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