Ron Hextall, Aware of History of No. 2 Pick, Has to Hit at NHL Draft

Since the 2000 NHL draft - 17 years - all No. 2 overall picks chosen have found their way into the league.

Nine players came into the NHL directly from either junior, college or Europe in their first season of eligibility.

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The remaining eight players spent up to two years before reaching the NHL, including James Van Riemsdyk, who the Flyers drafted second overall in 2007.

The left wing remained at the University of New Hampshire for two more seasons before joining the Flyers, where he played 196 games over three seasons.

"JVR" was later dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a post-draft day trade in June 2012 for defenseman Luke Schenn.

Incredible as it seems, JVR is the only No. 2 overall pick the Flyers have ever had in the draft.

On Friday night at United Center in Chicago, the Flyers will get to choose No. 2 overall thanks to fortuitous - if incredible - luck in the NHL draft lottery.

They are expected to select Swiss center Nico Hischier, who played in Halifax this past year unless New Jersey takes him at No. 1. If that happens, the Flyers will opt for Brandon Wheat Kings center Nolan Patrick.

Hextall had dinner with both those players this month. He said the one-on-one time spent with each was invaluable.

"What's the person about?" Hextall said of the interview process. "What is your family background? How structured was your life? A lot of kids have it going on and are very mature, well-spoken. Then there are other kids who are a little immature, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"These are young guys we have to remind ourselves. Some are 17 years old. You are trying to get a little background on them to see what they have been through in their life, what they fought through and what they deal with on a daily basis."

Of the 17 players taken in previous drafts, five of those No. 2 overall selections have won at least one Stanley Cup.

Evgeni Malkin (2004/Pittsburgh) heads the list with three Cups. Drew Doughty (2008/Los Angeles) is next with two Cups.

The single Cup winners were Eric Staal (2003/Carolina), younger brother Jordan Staal (2006/Pittsburgh) and Tyler Seguin (2010/Boston).

Obviously, the historical trend bodes well for the Flyers selecting a player who, if not ready for the NHL now, will be within two years time.

"Every year is different with every draft slot," Hextall said. "It's never the same. We look at history to try to figure things out. You have to make individual decisions. You have to make decisions based on an individual player.

"Not necessarily on history, of course, you do. Individual players are all at a different stage. Physically, mentally and so you can't put too much into the history of the second overall pick."

Now, as for winning a Cup, well, that's another matter given the Flyers' tortured history of eight Cup Final appearances with just two chalices to show for it.

If you want a more historical look at all-time No. 2 picks overall, there is a decent selection of impressive players, going back as far as the first NHL draft in 1963 when Peter Mahovlich was taken No. 2 by Detroit.

Lucky for him, "The Little M" was traded to Montreal to join "The Big M" - brother Frank, a future Hall of Famer  - and Peter would win four Cups with the Habs during his lifetime.

The 1970s produced Marcel Dionne (1971/Detroit) at No. 2, a future Hall of Famer. The '80s produced Hall of Famer Brendan Shanahan (1987/New Jersey) at No. 2 while the 90s gave us a familiar face – Chris Pronger (1993/Hartford), yet another Hall of Famer.

If only this Flyers pick could be so lucky.

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