Philadelphia Flyers Two Biggest Draft Needs

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JULY 08: The Philadelphia Flyers management attend the 2022 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre on July 08, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JULY 08: The Philadelphia Flyers management attend the 2022 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre on July 08, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The 2022-23 Philadelphia Flyers season will be over after tonight. Thank God! Now, mercifully, we can move on. And while the team did not perform well, they did perform better than the year before. And in many ways they grew along the way.

With that in mind, it is time to start thinking about the upcoming NHL Draft. The draft will be held on June 28th and 29th this year. That’s only two months away, but a lot can happen between now and then. The Flyers will learn of their lottery pick on May 8. They currently sit with the 7th best odds. They could move up or down, depending on how the Hockey Gods are feeling that day.

Either way, the Flyers need to make draft picks. They have a first round pick, two conditional third round picks, two fourth round picks, a fifth round pick, two sixth round picks, and a seventh rounder. That should give new general manger Daniel Briere some room to maneuver.

With these picks, the Flyers have two glaring needs. While a team that finished in next to last place in their division obviously has several holes in the lineup, there are two positions that this team really, really needs to focus on. These are the positions that Briere should try to get with the first rounder at all costs.

Position #1: Top Six Center

Outside of Sean Couturier, who hasn’t played since December of 2021, we don’t have one. The only Flyer’ center with more than 200 faceoff chances with over a 50% faceoff percentage is Patrick Brown…and he was traded away. The top two teams were Dallas (54.6) and Boston (54.5). Both are playoff teams. In fact, of the top 10 teams, only three are not playoff bound: the Predators and Penguins, both just barely missed the postseason, and the Blackhawks; the worst team in the NHL this year. The Flyers were third from the bottom, ahead of just Seattle and Buffalo.

A good center who can win the faceoff, control the puck, dump the puck in and allow his wingers to go after it, and set up the plays is what this team needs. The Flyers haven’t had a guy like that since Eric Lindros.

Yes, Noah Cates is good, but he is not going to dominate a game. At least not yet. Scott Laughton is a great second or third line center. He is a solid guy, but he is not Connor McDavid, Nathan McKinnon, or Austin Matthews. Heck, I’d even take a Mat Barzal.

That’s the sort of guy the Flyers need right now. A shutdown, two-way forward who can check, score, and win faceoffs. With players like Owen Tippett, Morgan Frost, and Joel Farabee, all you really need is someone to lead them. An elite center can do that.

Position #2: Speedy Sniper on the Wing

If Briere can’t find a center like that, then this team needs a speedy dude flying up the sides of the rink. One thing this team lacks greatly is a guy who can rip off a shot from the blueline and one-time it into the net before the goalie can react.

A Brady Tkachuk, Artemi Panarin. Mikko Rantanen, Mitch Marner, or Nikita Kucherov sort of player would be the best type. Someone with a combination of speed and the ability to score at will. Ideally, someone who can be the Philly version of David Pastrňák or…even Daniel Briere.

If the Flyers had another winger who can speedily maneuver around enemy blueliners and arrive at the net in time to dump a rebound in, the scoring output of this young team would grow by leaps and bounds. An outside sniper who could score on the power play is something that has been missing from this team for years. If the Flyers could’ve doubled the output on their power play (34 to 68), they may have won enough games to earn a playoff berth depending on when those goals came.

The Flyers are decent on goaltending and have enough young defenders that we need to let them come up and showcase what they have. The team should restock those positions in the draft. Don’t get me wrong. But the primary focus this year should be on a top tier center or winger. That will be the best thing to help this team move forward.