Kudos to the 76ers for embracing a long-term vision at the NBA Draft on Thursday night. The rebuilding effort will be long and at times painful, but honestly it can’t be any worse than the long and frequently painful death march to mediocrity we’ve become accustomed to from Sixers basketball.
It’s not often the Sixers steal the spotlight in Philadelphia, but it’s safe to say they’ve done exactly that with a shakeup nobody could have seen coming. The NHL selection process is right around the corner now though – on Sunday to be exact – and the Flyers are no stranger to blockbuster moves on draft day themselves.
Will Paul Holmgren try to one-up Sam Hinkie?
The Flyers aren’t likely to make any trades that change the very face of the franchise this weekend. The plan as of now is to extend Claude Giroux’s contract, while Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier are supposedly “untouchable” as the building blocks of the team's young nucleus.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Homer is necessarily content to pick at No. 11, either. While the Flyers’ GM says he is willing to take the best player available in their current slot, it sounds like what he would really like to do is come away from the draft with an "franchise player" – somebody who could contribute at the NHL level immediately.
And yes, Holmgren is ready to trade up to accomplish that goal – perhaps as high as into the top four picks. Tim Panaccio has more:
Trades have become a common occurrence at the draft with the Flyers. What the scouts wouldn’t mind is moving higher to get into “impact” territory.
“You have to be prepared to do anything if the right thing comes up,” Holmgren said. “Every day there is more and more talk around the league. I’ve talked to more guys in the last few days. There is certainly potential for movement of picks up and down. I think some teams are looking to trade their pick for the right player.”
Again, all Holmgren would say was he feels he needs to get higher than seventh to find an impact player.
“Where we are at, we’ll get a good player at 11,” he said. “If we can move higher, and get into the guys you really like who you feel are franchise players, you probably got to get up to the top four.”
No. 4 is a long way up, so it’s unclear what the Flyers would have to send back in a swap. As long as Schenn and Couturier are untouchable, there aren’t many players left on the roster who are both expendable and enticing to the moribund franchises picking at the top. Does it take a package that involves future first-round picks to get it done?
Then there’s a question of whether or not teams are even looking to trade out of those spots.
And just who might the Flyers be targeting up there? Holmgren insists he will take the best player available, but acknowledges this a deep draft for defensemen, a clear position of need. The only blueliner going in the top six in a lot of mocks is Seth Jones, and he probably won’t slip past Florida with the second choice overall.
Perhaps they’re not looking to get into the top four at all. It’s no secret the Flyers really like D-man Darnell Nurse, nephew of Donovan McNabb. He may not be available at 11 however, so they could consider moving up just a few spots to snag him, especially if he is climbing up draft boards.
Of course, there's no rule that says they have to trade up and go D, either.
One thing is almost for certain, and that is the Flyers will not have a quiet draft. We’ll just have to wait and see what that means exactly.