Flyers had Fourth-Worst NHL Record, will Pick Fifth in Draft Because the Lottery is a Disaster

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Draft lottery was held Tuesday night prior to the start of the playoff games. The Montreal Canadiens, who had the worst record in the league, won the lottery and will pick first.

The New Jersey Devils. who had the sixth-worst record, jumped up to pick second. The Arizona Coyotes, an absolute embarrassment to professional sports, who will be playing in a college arena that seats less than 5,000 patrons, will pick third.

The Flyers had the fourth-worst record in the NHL this season and fell one spot to fifth, where they will likely have a crack at the top-ranked defenseman in the draft (more on that in a minute).

Teams fall in draft lotteries all the time. It’s part of the risk. It’s a bit of an anti-tanking element put in place so teams aren’t guaranteed to get the generational talents they want to turn around their fortunes quickly.

However, the NHL changed all of their lottery rules this year, and because of the changes (only a lottery for two spots, not three; no one can fall more than two spots; no one can jump more than 10 spots; no team can win the lottery more than twice in a span of five years; more balanced percentage chances of winning the lottery) it created a Frankenstein monster where the Flyers best odds were to pick in a worse spot than where they finished in the season (they had a better than 55% chance of picking fifth) –

Can this league get any more dumb?

Your best odds should ALWAYS be to land in the place you finished the season. Not better, not worse. The same place. Then, there can be a chance you move up and and a chance you fall down, that’s the risk of it – and that’s fine. But to make the odds FAVOR punishing a bad team kind of flies in the face of the concept of a draft to begin with, doesn’t it?

Isn’t the notion that the bad teams draft first so they have a better chance of catching up with the good teams?

When you’re telling bad teams they have to get lucky just to stay in their spot and even luckier to improve, but their best odds are to fall further back, you aren’t creating balance in your product – you’re making it easier for bad teams to stay bad longer. That’s bad business, and why you have a franchise playing in a college rink in the desert.

Dopes running this sport, I tell you. Flat. Out. Dopes.

So, with the fifth pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyer will select…. who?

Good question.

After the top three picks in this draft – Kingston Frontenacs center Shane Wright (who has been compared to Patrice Bergeron), Slovakian winger Juraj Slafkovsky and U.S. National Development Team center Logan Cooley (who has been compared to Sebastian Aho), and is committed to the University of Minnesota, there is some debate as to where things might fall between slots 4 and 7.

A good person to look to here though is TSN draft guru Craig Button, who not only scouts the players and ranks them himself, but also has great connections to each team and has a line of thinking as to who they like and where they might be looking to go position-wise in the draft.

Button’s list that he put out earlier today had Wright ranked No. 1, Cooley ranked No. 2, and then a few European players, with Slafkovsky ranked at No. 4, but after the draft, his first “mock draft” came out and Slafkovsky was going No. 2 to the Devils, jumping two spots from his own rankings that he released earlier that same day.

That’s likely because Button has good intel that the Devils are very high on Slafkovsky, who Button compares to Winnipeg forward Pierre-Luc Dubois.

As for the Flyers, with all things being equal, I’m told they’d like to add another defenseman. A lot of their top prospects right now are forwards, and they’d like to target another high-end blue liner who can fast track to the NHL within two seasons.

Picking at No. 5, should make that an easy decision positionally as they should be able to get their choice of who they believe is the best defenseman in the draft class.

That’s because most experts believe Arizona at No. 3 and Seattle at No. 4 will look for offense and are likely to go after either Cooley or Swedish winger Joakim Kemmel, whose comp, according to Button, is Filip Forsberg.

This would have the Flyers choosing between two players, both names I was told when I asked around as players they liked. One is Slovakian Defenseman Simon Nemec and the other is Czech blueliner David Jiricek.

The two are completely different types of players. At 6’0,” 190 pounds, Nemec is more offensive-minded, and Button compares him to the Islanders’ Noah Dobson:

Meanwhile Jiricek, who is a bigger 6’3″ but needs to add some weight as he’s just 189 pounds right now, will play a more defensive game and with a bit more heaviness and physicality.

Jiricek is a right-hand shot, which NHL teams, especially the Flyers, covet, and he has a big shot from the point too. The concern here is he suffered a major knee injury at World Juniors in January. Will that injury cause him to slide down the board? Will the Flyers pass on him and look at Nemec instead? Jiricek’s recovery and medicals will be all the rage leading up to the July 7 draft.

Button compares Jiricek to Detroit rookie rearguard Moritz Seider, who should be a finalist for the Calder Trophy this year (I voted for him for top 3 and I’ll Be stunned if he doesn’t get there), so that would be a great addition, if the comp is true.

Either way, I’m betting that as long as the Flyers hold on to this pick, that one of these two defensemen will immediately become one of the top prospects in the organization:

 

For more Flyers coverage, follow Snow The Goalie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also be sure to tune into The Press Row Show as Anthony SanFilippo and Russ Joy provide pregame and intermission coverage of every Flyers home game from press row of the Wells Fargo Center via the Crossing Broad Facebook page, YouTube Live, and Twitter, and their Twitter accounts   

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