Flyers put emphasis on later rounds

Posted: July 01, 2014

DESPITE A TOTAL regime change from Paul Holmgren to Ron Hextall, the NHL draft operated about the same as it has in past years for the Flyers.

That's because director of scouting Chris Pryor remained at the helm. Perhaps the only difference was the major emphasis the Flyers put internally on making their picks in rounds 2-7 count.

The NHL draft, unlike some other sports, is usually such a hit-or-miss event that teams are statistically doing well if any player picked after the second round actually skates a game in the NHL. Other organizations, like Detroit, for instance, seem to hit more than they miss.

Two years ago, the Flyers dug up a diamond in the rough when they grabbed Union College defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere in the third round. This year, they were looking for more finds like him - spurred by the confidence of individual scouts speak up for candidates they believe in.

There have been a few successes over the history of the franchise: Rick Tocchet (sixth round, 1983), Gord Murphy (ninth round, 1985), Pelle Eklund (eighth round, 1983), Hextall (sixth round, 1982). Holmgren himself was a sixth-rounder in 1975.

But success has come far and few between after the third round over the last 15 years: Dennis Seidenberg (sixth round, 2001), Roman Cechmanek (sixth round, 2000), Pat Maroon (sixth round, 2007), Zac Rinaldo (sixth round, 2008), Eric Wellwood (sixth, round 2009).

"You go through the draft book and you see teams that have guys they get in the fifth, sixth, seventh rounds that are productive players in our league and I think it is something we need to look at and we need to do a better job," said Holmgren, now the team president. "That's where your [regional] guys have to really hone in on a guy they like and then step up and be excited about that guy.

"We've made some changes in our scouting staff over the last couple of years and that's kind of a work in progress, too."

Scene and heard * 

Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray revealed center Jason Spezza turned down a trade to Nashville, one of the teams on his limited no-trade list. Frustrated Nashville GM David Poile said he doesn't feel he needs to sell his team with "what we have going on the ice, what we have off the ice, no state taxes. I get it. That's the way the world is right now. There's a lot of entitlement."

* Islanders GM Garth Snow stole the show Friday night with his comments about first-round pick Joshua Ho-Sang, a player blacklisted by many teams for his cocky personality who said he'd draft himself at No. 1 overall: "He'll fit right in. They bleep on me, too. I don't care. We get players we feel can help win us a championship, and we don't give a bleep what anyone else thinks - except our fans."

* A total of 210 players were selected over 2 days at the Wells Fargo Center, including 67 Americans (32 percent). That is the highest percentage of American-born players ever taken.

Draft selections by birthplace:

Canada. . . 77

United States. . . 67

Sweden. . . 27

Russia. . . 13

Finland. . . 9

Czech Republic. . . 8

Latvia. . . 2

Switzerland. . . 2

United Kingdom. . . 2

Denmark. . . 1

Slovakia. . . 1

Germany. . . 1

* No goaltenders were taken in the first round, but five were selected in the second round - including a run of four goalies over a span of five picks.

* There were few exciting trades this weekend, but quite a few players did find new homes: James Neal (Nashville), Roman Polak (Toronto), Brandon Bollig (Calgary), Carl Gunarsson (St. Louis) and Patric Hornqvist (Pittsburgh).

* Ron Hextall said the Flyers have extended qualifying offers to restricted free agents Jason Akeson and Tye McGinn. The team is still debating what to do about restricted free agent goaltender Cal Heeter, who appeared in the last game of the regular season for the Flyers; they have not yet extended the qualifying offer.

On Twitter: @DNFlyers


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