Dec 19, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux (28) during the second period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers defeated the Blue Jackets, 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Flyers Best Prospects Since 2000

With the Flyers best prospects in development camp for the next few days, thoughts arise on what the team could have been if it had kept its young talent. One of the more common knocks on the Flyers has been their inability to draft and develop prospects. If the team had kept its young talent, this is what it would look like today.

James van Riemsdyk Jeff CarterClaude Giroux
Patrick MaroonMike RichardsPatrick Sharp
Tye McGinnSean CouturierJustin Williams
Eric WellwoodScott LaughtonSteve Downie
Dennis SeidenbergJoni Pitkanen
Luca Sbisa Jeff Woywitka
Oliver LauridsenOskars Bartulis
Roman Cechmanek

These are the Flyers best prospects since 2000. The scouting department has had great success drafting forwards. The defensive and goaltender pool, not so much. I placed a few rules on myself when I assembled the team.

  1. Any player with at least one NHL game was eligible.

  2. The player had to best drafted by the Flyers. This eliminated Matt Read, Michael Raffl and Sergei Bobrovsky from contending.

  3. Players are slotted at the positions they were drafted. This is why Claude Giroux is a right wing instead of a center.

Let’s take a look at the forward lines. Whoever is in charge of scouting the centers, keep him.

Down the middle, this team is stacked. Scott Laughton, at this point in his young career, is a serviceable fourth-line center. Sean Couturier has shut down the game’s best players, including Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Mike Richards is a defensive stalwart who is a threat to score. Jeff Carter has a tremendous wrist shot and has the potential to score 30 goals a season a season.

During the last 14 drafts, several of the Flyers best prospects have become premier NHL forwards. They have drafted studs wingers such as James van Riemsdyk, Justin Williams and Patrick Sharp.

JVR scored 30 goals during the 2013-14 campaign and has plenty of room to grow. Williams is Captain Clutch when Game 7 rolls around and Sharp has multiple 30-goal seasons.

Most of their competent wingers have played on the right side, though. The left wing leaves a gaping hole on this team. Aside from JVR, these players are fringe NHLers.

Once we begin to look at the blue line, it starts to get messy. The Flyers inability to develop capable defensemen has been their weakness for too long. Look no further than the first-line of Joni Pitkanen and Dennis Seidenberg.

The goaltending crop has not fared better. During the last 15 years, Roman Cechmanek has been the only goaltender to see consistent time in the NHL. Come playoff time, this team would be hung out to dry with Cechmanek in net.

Ron Hextall seems to have a plan when it comes to developing the Flyers best prospects. During the previous two days of development camp, the coaches have used drills to challenge the players in abilities. The defensive woes could turn around in the next few years. The forwards could become good role players, maybe even top six players.

This article is not meant to criticize the Flyers and their previous trades. It is meant to show the team’s fantastic track record in drafting forwards. Craig Button of TSN gave the Flyers draft an “A” when they took three forwards and three defensemen. Both the forwards and defensemen were given exceptional praise.

Hextall’s vision is to compete in both the present and future.  He’s doing this with a young core instilled on the team and with a solid foundation of youngsters.

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