"It's a different draft, for sure," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "There are some top-end guys there, and maybe after the first five or six players, it evens out."
Because Pryor doesn't think there's much difference in the players rated between 10 and 20, the Flyers are not expected to make a deal for a higher slot.
Last year, Couturier was selected eighth overall, taken with one of the draft picks the Flyers acquired in the trade that sent Jeff Carter to Columbus. Couturier, 19, was one of the NHL's best rookies, scoring 13 goals and finishing third among first-year NHL players with a plus-18 rating.
Pryor said that this is a defense-laden draft and that he would not be surprised if 15 to 20 blue liners were among the 30 first-round selections.
The Flyers have more of a need for defensemen.
"For us, we take the best player available instead of drafting on need because your needs can change," Pryor said. "If you happen to make a deal and you're strong in one position and flip a couple guys in a trade, all of a sudden your strength can become your weakness."
But Pryor conceded that if a forward and defenseman were equal in ability, the Flyers would choose the latter.
"Defensemen are harder to find," he said.
Among the highly touted players who could be available when the Flyers select in the first round are:
Matt Finn, a strong all-around defenseman with a knack for making big plays.
Thomas Wilson, a right winger regarded as a prototypical Flyer because of his physical style.
Brendan Gaunce, a big-body center.
Olli Maatta, a defenseman adept at both ends of the ice.
Slater Koekkoek, a defenseman who is somewhat of an enigma because he is coming off a shoulder injury.
Dalton Thrower, a feisty defenseman.
Oscar Dansk, a 6-foot-2 goalie who has impressed scouts with his poise and quickness.
Derrick Pouliot, a smooth-skating defenseman known for his offensive production.
"We've had some pretty good luck picking in the low 20s," said Pryor, mindful that the Flyers chose Claude Giroux with the 22d pick in 2006, Mike Richards at No. 24 in 2003, and Simon Gagne at No. 22 in 1998.
Holmgren said the Flyers "are stronger as an organization at the forward position than we are at defense. That doesn't mean we are going to take a defenseman" in the first round.
"If there is a forward that our group likes ahead of the defenseman," Holmgren added, "we will probably take the forward. That is the way we have always done business, and we will continue to work that way."
The first round will be start at 7 p.m. Friday, with the second through seventh rounds scheduled for Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. The Flyers do not have a second-round pick. After selecting No. 20 in the first round, they won't pick again until the 78th overall selection, in the third round.
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