A History of Flyers Top Five Draft Picks

COLUMBUS, OH - JUNE 22: Second overall pick James vanRiemsdyk of the Philadelphia FLyers poses for a portrait during the first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft at Nationwide Arena on June 22, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - JUNE 22: Second overall pick James vanRiemsdyk of the Philadelphia FLyers poses for a portrait during the first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft at Nationwide Arena on June 22, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) /
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Serge Bernier

Drafted with the fifth overall pick in 1967, Bernier spent his first three seasons in the AHL with the Quebec Aces. He would make his full season debut for the Flyers in 1970 where he would score 23 goals and post 51 points overall. It turned out to be his only full season with Philadelphia.

He played in 44 games the following season, posting 12 goals and 23 points before being traded to the Los Angeles Kings. The deal brought Ross Lonsberry and Bill Flett to Philadelphia. Lonsberry would have his best seasons with the Flyers and was a part of the team’s back to back championships in 1974 and 1975.

Bernier would go on to play for the Kings for the rest of the year as well as the 1972-73 season. That would turn out to be the best season of his NHL career as he posted 68 points in 75 games. Bernier would jump to the WHA and join the Quebec Nordiques for the rest of his career. Those were the best years of his professional hockey career.

He would post 78 points or higher during his six year career in the WHA. He was named a Second Team All Star in 1974-75 after a career high 54 goals and 122 points. Bernier was named the MVP of the playoffs in 1977 as Quebec won the Avco Cup. He had recorded 36 points in just 17 games. He would follow Quebec to the NHL for the final two seasons of his career, but it was clear he wasn’t able to keep up any longer.

He finished his NHL career with 78 goals and 197 points. 35 goals and 75 points came with the Flyers throughout four seasons.

Mel Bridgman

The only first overall pick in the Flyers history, Mel Bridgman came to Philadelphia after the team acquired the top pick from the Capitals for Bill Clement, Don McLean and cash considerations. Bridgman had also been drafted fourth overall in the WHA Draft. But he would choose the Flyers, signing a five-year deal.

Being a first overall pick comes with lofty expectations. The season before he was drafted, Bridgman had an outstanding final season for the Victoria Cougars of the WCHL. He posted 66 goals and 157 points as the Cougars posted the best record in the league a season after finishing fifth in their division. Bridgman had 12 goals and 18 points in the playoffs.

While he wouldn’t necessarily bring that type of scoring to the NHL, he was as reliable as they come for the Flyers. During seven seasons in Philadelphia, Bridgman posted 119 goals and 324 points. He also embodied what it meant to be a Broad Street Bully. He totaled 971 penalty minutes with the Flyers.

Bridgman would end up taken over the captaincy when Bobby Clarke voluntarily stepped down for the 1979-80 season as he transitioned to a playing assistant coach. He personally recommended that Bridgman take over. That was the season that Philadelphia went on their 35-game unbeaten streak. He remained with the Flyers for another season before being traded to Calgary just nine games into the 1981-82 season.

While Bridgman had one of his best season while with the Flames, he was a key part of the Flyers while he was there.

Ron Sutter

Drafted fourth overall in 1982, Ron Sutter spent the majority of his career in a Flyers uniform. He would actually end up playing three seasons with a Philadelphia alongside his twin brother, Rich. Those were some of the best years of his career.

Sutter debuted for Philadelphia at age 19, playing 10 games the season following his draft. He would score his first NHL goal that year, adding an assist as well. In his first full season, his 50 points stand as the second best of his career, only surpassed by the 60 points he put up during his third full season.

Those just so happened to the the years that Ron and Rich played together. Rich was originally drafted by Pittsburgh, but would only play nine games for the club at the beginning of the 1983-84 season before he was traded to Philadelphia.

Sutter would be named captain in December of 1989 and held the title for just under two seasons. He was later traded to the St. Louis Blues in September of 1991. Sutter would end up playing for six other teams throughout the rest of his NHL career. He spent three years with the Blues, four with the Sharks, and had one year stints with Quebec, the Islanders, Boston and Calgary.

Sutter would never post more than 22 points and only hit double digit goals three times after leaving Philadelphia. He hit that mark seven times while with the Flyers.

Mike Ricci

Ricci came into the 1990 NHL Draft as a “can’t miss” prospect. He had finished his third season with the Peterborough Petes of the OHL. His final season saw him record a career high 116 points and his second consecutive season with 50+ goals.

The Flyers took him with the fourth overall pick in 1990. Ricci would only last two seasons with the club, though, before being traded to the Quebec Nordiques in the Eric Lindros deal. While in Philadelphia, Ricci posted back to back 20-goals seasons, improving in points from 41 points in his first year to 56 during his second year.

Philadelphia won’t not make the playoffs in either season while Ricci was there, likely part of the reason they made the big trade to acquire Lindros. Paul Holmgren was fired after going 8-14-2 to start the 1991-92 season. Ricci would be traded in the off-season of 1992.

It was there that he broke out, posting 27 goals and 78 points in his first season with the Nordiques. The following season he would post a new career high in goals with 30. When the team relocated and became the Colorado Avalanche, Ricci was a part of the team that won the cup in 1997. He had six points in 17 playoff games.

Traded to the Sharks in November of 1997, Ricci was unable to match his previous offensive output but turned into a solid defensive center. He did reach the 20-goal mark twice with San Jose and had over 50 points during the 2001-02 season.

Ricci would eventually sign with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2004, but would undergo neck surgery during the summer of 2006. He would only play a total of 85 games for the Coyotes before retiring in 2007.