Flyers preparing for 'anything' to happen during draft

Posted: June 28, 2013

THE DIRTY work is done.

After cutting ties with Ilya Bryzgalov and Danny Briere, freeing up almost $12.2 million off next year's salary cap, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren is ready for anything heading into this weekend's draft.

The Flyers hold the 11th overall pick in Sunday's draft, but that doesn't mean they will be keeping it. It's possible the Flyers move up to nab an NHL-ready player, keep the pick, or move it as part of a package to fill the various holes on their roster.

To predict an outcome, or even a targeted player to draft, would be an exercise in futility.

"I'll probably change my mind completely," Holmgren said with a laugh at his annual predraft availability.

All seven rounds will be conducted on Sunday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., beginning at 3 o'clock on NBC Sports Network. The Flyers are currently slated to pick 11th in every round (11th, 41st, 72nd, 132nd, 162nd, 192nd) except the fourth round, when they don't own a pick.

Holmgren was laughing about changing his mind, but he may not be kidding. It was just 2 years ago, on June 23, 2011, when Holmgren traded the two cores of his franchise, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, in separate deals.

He said yesterday that he still believed young guns Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn were among his "untouchables," but it's possible that everyone except Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek are in play over the next 2 weeks.

"We probably have to be prepared to do anything if the right thing comes up," Holmgren said. "I think every day there's more talk from around the league. I know I've talked to more guys in the last few days, so I know there's certainly potential movement of picks. Up, down, I think some teams are willing to trade their picks for the right player."

Interestingly, all this chatter surrounds a draft that many scouts believe could be as deep as the 2003 haul that produced Norris Trophy finalist Shea Weber as late as 49th. Richards (24th overall) and Carter (11th) were both scooped up by the Flyers in the first round that year.

"It's certainly one of the better ones probably in the last couple years in terms of overall depth," Holmgren said.

For Holmgren, one benefit of the NHL lockout from September through January was that he was personally able to watch a lot of the top prospects play. It's something that he normally wouldn't be able to do during a full season.

The Flyers could definitely trade up to get a "player you really like, someone who you think could be a franchise player," Holmgren said.

But even if Holmgren had the No. 1 overall pick, he said he wouldn't be sure who he'd select. Defenseman Seth Jones suddenly has some competition in forwards Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon.

That's led to plenty of posturing among the top three teams. New Colorado Avalanche vice president Joe Sakic is on record as saying he's going to take a forward with the No. 1 pick, likely meaning he's not going after consensus No. 1 pick Jones.

"I think it's probably posturing," Holmgren said. "Maybe it's fair for them to say that. [New Avalanche coach] Patrick Roy probably saw Drouin and MacKinnon play 20 times in the last couple years [as a coach in the QMJHL]. They're pretty exciting players. I imagine their debates in the Colorado office are pretty intense.

"They probably don't know what they're doing. Or maybe they do and they're not saying."

That's why Holmgren thinks it will be wildly unpredictable leading up to Sunday. No pick is likely untouchable. Even if the Flyers stay at No. 11, he "guarantees there's going to be at least one player taken before that pick that we didn't think would go there."

"I think there's going to be a lot of funny things happening," Holmgren said. "There's potential for lots of things to happen because of the buyouts, potential buyouts which might be coming at another point. It's a very competitive league and we're all trying to do what the Blackhawks just did."

On Twitter: @DNFlyers


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