Could Flyers pick a goalie in first round?

Posted: June 22, 2012

In its mock draft, the Hockey News boldly projected that the Flyers will select 18-year-old goalie Oscar Dansk with their first pick - 20th overall - in Friday night's first round in Pittsburgh.

That seems like a reach, based on the Flyers' needs on defense and because they have Ilya Bryzgalov signed for eight more years, still have Sergei Bobrovsky, and have two other promising goalies in the system.

Still, general manager Paul Holmgren - who could be involved in trade talks for South Jersey product Bobby Ryan of Anaheim and Columbus' Rick Nash this weekend - didn't rule out the possibility of selecting a goalie first.

"I guess we could," Holmgren said earlier in the week. "I think we have a couple of young guys that we signed here. Niko Hovinen is going to play this year in North America. Cal Heeter, out of Ohio State, we signed. We have some young guys that are under contract that are going to play in the system. That doesn't mean that we won't look at a goalie at some point in the draft. In the first round? Who knows?"

The Flyers have drafted a goalie in the first round just twice since they joined the league in 1967-68. They chose Maxime Ouellet in 1999 and Brian Boucher in 1995. Ouellet played in just 12 NHL games, and Boucher has had a productive but less-than-sensational career.

NHL teams have not picked a goalie in the first round in three of the last five drafts, and a goalie wasn't chosen last year until the 38th overall selection - 6-foot-5 Magnus Hellberg was taken by Nashville in the second round.

Dansk, a 6-foot-2, 186-pound Swede, is regarded as one of the top goalies in a draft that has a strong crop of netminders. The same can be said of Andrei Vasilevski, a 6-3, 204-pound Russian who also starred in juniors.

Malcolm Subban (6-1, 188), the younger brother of Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban and a standout in the Ontario Hockey League, might be the first goalie drafted.

Some think that the Flyers' focus should be on defense because Chris Pronger's future is - at best - cloudy, and Kimmo Timonen is 37 and coming off back surgery.

Scouts say the draft is deep in defensemen, headed by Ryan Murray. Edmonton has the first overall pick and, though it needs help on defense, may opt for Russian right winger Nail Yakupov, the consensus top player in the draft.

Edmonton will select first, followed by Columbus. The first round starts at 7 p.m. Friday on the NBC Sports Network, and the second through seventh rounds will take place Saturday (NHL Network) starting at 10 a.m.

The Flyers have just five picks - six fewer than Washington. The Capitals, Tampa Bay, and Buffalo each have two first-round selections in the 50th annual draft.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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