Saturday, June 28, 2014

7 Rounds in 2 Days

Wow. That went fast. The draft is over and now we can catch our breath a bit.
There's a lot to go through. I have a ton of audio from Flyers brass including Chris Pryor, Ron Hextall and Paul Holmgren which I already uploaded and linked on my twitter @bobrotuck . But I want to dig into it a bit more and listen again to what they have to say about these guys. If you want some great background and thoughts on each of the players taken in the draft then listen to Chris Pryor interview. He's the Flyers Director of Scouting and is always good for that kind of in-depth background stuff.

As I mentioned before, these potential "future Phantoms" won't be joining the Lehigh Valley team for a couple of years. It's not like football or basketball where the player gets drafted and then immediately is a professional. In hockey, the drafted player will go back to juniors or college hockey. The kids who were drafted this weekend will not be turning professional for a couple of least.

We might see some of them at the end of THIS season though...for just a couple weeks. When juniors team is eliminated from the playoffs in March or April then the drafted players can join the AHL on an amateur contract. And then the next year they go right back to juniors.
2012 first-rounder Scott Laughton did that a couple seasons ago. Came over to the Phantoms at the end of the year and played six games and scored his first pro goal...and the following season was right back in Oshawa lighting up the Ontario Hockey League.
There was a good chance that 2013 first-rounder Sam Morin would have done the same thing. But his juniors team went a little further into the playoffs. They were eliminated in a seven-game series just a couple days before the Phantoms' last games of the year...and he was injured in their last game as well. If Morin's team had lost in 5 games instead of 7 and he was healthy, then almost certainly the big defenseman would have come over to the Phantoms just to play 3 or 4 games at the end of the year.
It's a terrific opportunity for these kids to get their feet wet and to get a direct feel for the difference between juniors against a bunch of 16-19 year-olds mostly...vs the AHL with some 5-10 year veteran guys, many with NHL experience.

Going back through previous drafts, we can expect some of these players drafted this weekend join the Phantoms within the next 2-3 seasons. But not all of them. Inevitably, a couple of them won't make it that far, or will get traded, or something else will happen.
In the longer-run, if you turn just two of your seven draft selections into legitimate NHL players who stick for longer than a half-season then you can probably say you had a decent draft that year. If you end with one legit superstar and one capable NHL'er then you had a tremendous draft. 2006 featured Claude Giroux as the Flyers first-round pick (at #22 overall) and also second-rounder Andreas Nodl who played one full season for the Flyers (scoring 11 goals) and parts of three others.

We won't really know if the 2014 Flyers Draft Class can be considered a success until 2018 or 2019 or so. That's just how it works. You take a bunch of 18-year-olds and see where they stand when they are 22 or 23. And for a couple of key seasons in-between, we can look forward to seeing some of these players in Phantoms jerseys as they try to realize their potential and eventually put on the Flyers jersey again...just like they did here in Philadelphia right after their name was called by Ron Hextall.

More later. This place is clearing out. My first ever NHL Draft experience is officially complete.
As always, happy to receive your questions and thoughts on twitter @bobrotruck and email

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