Flyers' focus on draft in Philly in late June

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Flyers general manager Ron Hextall. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 04, 2014

Flyers officials would rather be preparing for the Stanley Cup Finals, but the team got dropped off at the train station early in the playoffs, so it's onto another big event that will soon take place at the Wells Fargo Center.

Hello, NHL draft.

For the first time ever, Philadelphia will host the draft, and Flyers executives are busy laying the behind-the-scenes groundwork for the June 27-28 event.

Free tickets were offered to season-ticket holders and in an online lottery. All of the tickets, estimated at a total of 30,000, were quickly gobbled up, though the league may release more tickets as the draft gets closer.

"The response was overwhelming," said Shawn Tilger, the Flyers' chief operating officer of business operations. "People are really embracing the event."

The first round will be held June 27 starting at 7 p.m., while rounds two through seven will take place the next day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Flyers' first pick is No. 17 overall.

Left wingers Sonny Milano (starred for U.S. under-18 team) and Nikolaj Ehlers (49 goals in 63 QMJHL games last season), and right winger/center Joshua Ho-Sang (32 goals in the OHL) are among the talented forwards who could be on the board when the Flyers make their first selection. Ditto center Dylan Larkin and center/right winger Alex Tuch, players who excelled for the U.S. under-18 team.

Kasperi Kapanen, a right winger who is the son of former Flyer Sami Kapanen, probably won't be available when the Flyers pick in the opening round.

In one of its mock drafts, NHL.com listed seven left wingers among the top 10 picks, and 13 in the 30-team first round. Left wing is one of the Flyers' biggest needs, but general manager Ron Hextall said the Flyers would draft the best available players, regardless of position.

The draft is the third major event the Flyers will have hosted since 2010, following the Stanley Cup Finals and the Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said because of the "hockey enthusiasm here and the ability to hold major events in Philadelphia, we thought it was a natural fit."

The draft has an abundance of gifted forwards, including center Sam Reinhart, and left wingers Samuel Bennett, Leon Draisaitl, and Michael Dal Colle. Reinhart or defenseman Aaron Ekblad will probably be selected by Florida with the No. 1 overall pick.

On Monday, the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Sports Congress, and the Flyers installed the first draft-themed signs on street poles throughout Center City.

In the days before the draft, a clinic with the top prospects will be held at the Scanlon Rink in Kensington on June 26 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., and a coaches clinic will take place June 26 from 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. at the Loews Hotel in Center City. A Fan Fest will be held at Xfinity Live on June 27 (3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.) and June 28 (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) featuring hockey-themed, kid-friendly activities.

All of those events are free and open to the public.


Notable 17th Picks in the NHL Draft

The Flyers will have the 17th overall pick when the NHL draft starts June 27 at the Wells Fargo Center. Here are some of the players taken No. 17 overall in previous drafts:

Year    Player               The Lowdown

1969    Bobby Clarke          Hall of Famer who led Flyers to two Stanley Cups.

1980    Brent Sutter          Had 12 seasons of 20 or more goals.

1984    Kevin Hatcher          The big D man had 227 goals and was a five-time all-star.

1993    Jason Allison          Had two big seasons (33, 36 goals) with Bruins; oft-injured.

2001    Carlo Colaiacovo       Has had a decent but unremarkable career as defenseman.

2003    Zach Parise             One of the NHL's top LWs; has topped 30 goals five times.

2005    Martin Hanzal          Had 15 goals and career-best 40 points this season.

2012    Tomas Hertl             Rookie-of-year favorite before knee injury this season.

- Sam Carchidi


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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