Danny Briere was on the phone Friday more than a Tik Tok influencer.

He tried to maneuver in so many different directions at the 2024 NHL Draft. And his goals shifted throughout the night.

At first, he was trying to get up high enough to draft Russian forward Ivan Demidov. This was his target and his attempt to take another big swing in the draft.

He knew it would be a long shot, but he had to try.

He made a big-time offer to Columbus, but ultimately, it didn’t come to fruition. Columbus wanted a king’s ransom for the pick, and Briere balked. It wasn’t worth giving up three potential first round picks – on a rebuilding team no less – to make the move.

Columbus ultimately had other offers as well, and considered them all, but decided to hold the line and draft at their spot – taking center Cayden Lindstrom.

That meant Demidov was still there. Briere still had a faint hope of getting the player he was targeting.

Montreal was at pick No. 5, and frankly, Briere expected Demidov to be selected there. It’s why he worked so feverishly to get to pick No. 4 – because he didn’t expect Demidov to make it past the Canadiens.

But just in case, he was on the horn with the Utah Hockey Club, who had the first pick in franchise history (the NHL is considering them a new team, and not part of the Winnipeg 1.0/Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes lineage…. which is stupid), at No. 6.

What the offer was, is not abundantly clear, but Briere wanted to have something in place in case in case Demidov slipped past the Habs.

Utah was interested, thus Danny’s line to the media that there was “some traction” to move up. But Briere was only interested if Demidov was there.

Both teams waited.

Montreal, with Celine Dion at the mic (seriously), selected Demidov.

That killed the deal. It was on to Plan B. But what exactly did that look like?

The Flyers also had interest in London Knights defenseman Sam Dickinson. They felt that he had the profile to be a No. 1 on the back end, something that doesn’t come around often.

Briere had constant communications with teams in that 6-10 range, but things changed drastically. Actually, things had started to go down a different path earlier, when the Anaheim Ducks selected Beckett Sennecke third overall. And then, the defensemen, the thing almost every evaluator in the league suggested was the strength of this draft, started to slip.

And it wasn’t just that they were sliding, but the ones most people thought would be at the top of the draft – kids like Anton Silayev and Zeev Buium, were sliding behind others.

“The board started to go sideways a little bit as far as what teams were thinking after (pick) five,” Briere said. “Teams were just not comfortable anymore moving their pick.”

What he meant by “going sideways” was the way things went from 6-10.

  • Utah took center Tij Iginla at 6, sliding the defensemen down even one more slot.
  • Ottawa finally picked a defenseman at No. 7, but it wasn’t Silayev or Buium who most expected, instead it was Carter Yakemchuk, which sent shockwaves through the draft tables.
  • Seattle selected center Berkley Catton at No. 8, a player a lot of people wanted the Flyers to take, but this slid the defensemen down even further.
  • Calgary went with a defenseman at No. 9 – but they went with Zayne Parekh, again pushing the two names many had going in the top five down yet again.

What in the wide, wide world of sports was going on here.

Briere waited patiently. For a guy who was hell-bent on trading out of pick No. 12, maybe the dominoes would fall the right way and he’d get one of his targets who he expected to go before that spot anyway.

The New Jersey Devils picked at No. 10, and finally selected Silayev. At this point, Briere needed to start considering Plan C – trading back.

That’s because the San Jose Sharks had made a trade earlier in the week with the Buffalo Sabres to get to pick No. 11, one spot ahead of the Flyers. It’s likely they had intel on the Flyers liking Dickinson. They did too, and if they were going to have a shot at him, they knew they needed to get ahead of Philadelphia.

And that’s exactly what the Sharks did – snatching Dickinson one spot before the Flyers.

There was no panic for Briere. The next name on their list was Jett Luchanko. They fell in love with him early in the season, and then watched his game blossom in the second half of the year and he was a key contributor to the Canadian U-18 gold medal-team, scoring seven points in seven games.

“We didn’t want him to play too well,” Briere joked about Luchanko at the U-18s. “We wanted to keep him hidden. Our guys really liked him early in the season and you just kept seeing him get better and better and his stock just kept increasing. We weren’t too excited about that because earlier in the season we thought he could be there for our later pick in the first round.”

The Flyers wanted Luchanko, and knew they could probably get him later. And with Buium still on the board, there were multiple teams who were interested in trading up to that spot to draft him.

The Flyers were willing to trade down. A lot of fans on social media were decrying this. They wanted the Flyers to just draft Buium. Some evaluators thought he would go as high as third. Here was a highly-skilled, offensive-minded defenseman who could come in and be a power play quarterback fort years to come.

It was tempting, but Briere believes in the “know thyself” philosophy. He looked at what the Flyers already had and thought, how would Buium fit with the plan of constructing the team the way they want to construct it for when they are a contender.

“He’s going to be a great player and he’s someone we considered strongly,” Briere said. “But with Cam York and Jamie Drysdale and Emil Andrae, at some point it gets tough to (keep going) with the smaller guy.”

In other words, if the Flyers are going to add defensively to their core, they want it to be a player with some size. It’s why Dickinson was a target, Buium was not.

But other teams certainly would want Buium. Minnesota was right behind the Flyers at 13. They were one of those teams. But Briere was getting calls from others. St. Louis at 16 was another. Briere knew there was traction for a trade down. The question was, how far were they willing to fall and still be able to get Luchanko?

Briere didn’t want to risk going too far down. Even St. Louis at 16 might go too far. Even though there were a lot of people linking BUffalo at 14 to their eventual pick of Finnish center Konsta Helenius, Luchanko fit their mold as well. And then there was Detroit, and GM Steve Yzerman is hard to get a read on sometimes, but Luchanko has the skill set that would fit the mold of the type of team he’s trying to build as well.

He didn’t want to risk it. He knew Minnesota would take Buium, so it was safest to slide back one spot. Could he have potentially got a little more than the third round pick from the Wild that he was offered for the pick if he went down further? Maybe. But getting non-first round assets at the risk of losing a player you have targeted is a case of the juice not being worth the squeeze.

So, he made the deal with Minnesota. They selected Buium at 12 and the Flyers got Luchanko at 13.

They are facing a lot of criticism from the media, and from some fans – for choosing this path, but the reality is, us folks in the media don’t know, and the fans don’t know either. We’re not out travelling the world watching these teenagers play. We’re not evaluating growth potential. We don’t see what scouts are looking at and looking for.

And the Flyers amateur scouts have done a good job of nailing first round talent over the years. There was some upheaval during the Ron Hextall tenure, when Hextall didn’t trust his scouts as much as most GMs do, and that resulted in some big misses (German Rubtsov, Nolan Patrick, Jay O’Brien), Otherwise though, this collection of Flyers scouts, some who have been a part of the organization for many years, have done a nice job finding NHL talent outside the Top 10 of the first round.

York, Travis Konecny, Travis Sanheim, Tyson Foerster, and Scott Laughton are all those types of players on the current roster.

After the Luchanko pick, the Flyers didn’t see much value in the rest of the first round. There was never a real thought of trading up from No. 32, but Briere pulled a slick move on Edmonton, a team that had their GM resign the day after losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final earlier this week.

Edmonton wanted back in the first round and liked London winger Sam O’Reilly. The Flyers liked him too, but, they liked the notion of what Edmonton was offering better.

The Oilers were willing to part with a future first round pick to draft O’Reilly.

They asked for some protection on the pick – as long as it’s not in the top 12, it will convey next season. That would be one hell of a collapse if the Oilers go from Game 7 of the Stanley Cup to top 12 in the span of a year. But, if it does happen, the pick will then be an unprotected first rounder in 2026.

(There’s also a condition that would erase the protection on 2025, but that would assume the Oilers also trade their 2026 first rounder before next year’s draft, which is a long shot, and Edmonton likely wouldn’t do unless they know, for a fact, they aren’t finishing in the top 12 in 2025).  

It was worth the gamble for Briere. Unless Edmonton wins the Cup next season, the pick is certainly going to be higher than where it was this season. And if they do win the Cup, and it’s in the same spot, the Flyers (and practically every evaluator) view the 2025 draft class as a far deeper one than in 2024.

As such, the Flyers picked up their third first round pick in a deep 2025 draft. It was a smart move for Briere and seems to be a head-scratcher for the Oilers.

Minutes after that trade was finalized and O’Reilly was picked by Edmonton, ending the first round, The Blue Jackets alerted the Flyers that they plan to use their second round pick this season, and instead will send the Flyers their second rounder next season, as was their option from the Ivan Provorov trade.

As a result, right now the Flyers have the following assets at their disposal for the 2025 draft:

  • Their own first round pick
  • Colorardo’s first round pick (top 10 protected)
  • Edmonton’s first round pick (top 12 protected)
  • Their own second round pick
  • Anaheim’s second round pick
  • Columbus’ second round pick
  • Their own third round pick
  • Minnesota’s third round pick
  • Their own fourth round pick
  • Their own fifth round pick
  • Carolina’s fifth round pick
  • Their own sixth round pick
  • Their own seventh round pick

That’s 13 picks total. eight of which are in the first three rounds. That’s a lot of assets to be used to select players or available in trades to go after a higher pick or big-name established NHLer.

Flers CEO Dan Hilferty recently told our Kevin Kinkead in a one-on-one interview that the “New Era of Orange” slogan would last for one more year, before they change it. That’s because the plan for the Flyers views ramping things forward into being a contending team starting one year from now.

And now, after a whirlwind day, Briere and his team have the ammunition to make that happen.