READING, PA – Philadelphia Flyers landed in Los Angeles recent to attend tonight’s NHL Entry Draft pretty much as a formality considering the team’s Draft record over the past 10 years. Most teams value the Draft to help build their hockey teams, but the Flyers have treated the draft as a GM’s meeting, especially when you consider the amount of trades they have made at the Draft.
The NHL Entry Draft has become the Flyers new NHL trade deadline, especially in the Flyers case. The Flyers have made a trade at the Draft every year since 2000. Yep, you’re reading that right sports fans. This year the streak should continue. The Flyers need a goaltender and they need to stay under the salary cap. With the recent trade for Dan Hamhuis, and the need for a new goaltender through a free agent or trade, or to give Michael Leighton a raise, the Flyers must somehow stay under the cap. That means someone has to go in order to stay under the cap.
There are two trades that will forever hunt the Flyers in the long term. Let me make this clear so that even a Chris Pronger fan can understand. Since Holmgren became GM in the early part of the 2006-07 season, he has made several trades that have hampered the team from becoming a league power for years to come. The point in sports is to not just win a championship, it is to become a team that can (and does) win several championships, period, end of story.
As much fun as it would have been for the Flyers to have won a Cup this year, having a team that has the ability to win several in a 3-5 year span would be far more special. Who would you rather be right now, the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Carolina Hurricanes? If you said the ‘Canes, you’re either a Hurricanes fan, drunk, or both. Over the long term, you can bet your Sidney Crosby rookie card that that the Pens will win more Cups over the next 10 years than the ‘Canes.
Why? Because teams like the Penguins and Red Wings build their teams through the Draft. I realize that over the past couple of seasons I’ve sounded like a broken record but facts are facts. Teams that build championship teams over several years build through the Draft. If don’t believe me, go and look at the rosters of just the teams that have won Cups since 2000 and you will see that the teams that won the Cup have at least one-third of the team’s starting roster players that were drafted by the team.
The fact is that the Flyers have only themselves to blame for being put in this position. If all you do is spend up to the cap, you can always expect to be forced to move players. For this reason alone it’s time for the Flyers to stop treating the Draft like the plague and start building through it. The truth of the matter is, they won’t unless upper management changes.
I have said this once and I will say it again, mark my words, the Los Angeles Kings will win a Cup before the Flyers will. They have built a team through the Draft and are a team on the rise. The Flyers magical playoff run was just that, magical. With that said, let’s also deal with reality now that it is over. The Flyers didn’t have to go through the Capitals or the Penguins to get to the finals.
I take nothing away from what they accomplished, but do they get to the finals if they have to play one or both of those teams? Maybe if they play the Caps since they proved they can beat them in a series, but the Penguins? The last two playoff series against the Pens should give you pause.
Anyway, back to the Draft, the Flyers don’t pick until number 89 in the third round but they can’t stay there. They must somehow get up into the first round and not only move some salary, but make a trade that could land a future goaltender, such as Jack Campbell or Calvin Pickard.
Thankfully, some published reports have the Flyers trying to make a trade that could involve several trade options that I made public last year, such as: Jonathan Bernier, Cory Schneider, and Josh Harding. Either way the Flyers must settle their goaltending situation once and for all. They also need to stop spending up to the cap. The future is now, and the Flyers need to get with the program or it might be another 10 years before they see the Cup Finals.