Will the Flyers Trade Up, Make a Big Splash on Draft Day As Well?

Will the Flyers Trade Up, Make a Big Splash on Draft Day As Well?

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.

>> Flyers still plan to draft best available at 11 [CSN]

Topps cover man Claude Giroux answers U.S.-Canada questions

Topps cover man Claude Giroux answers U.S.-Canada questions

Claude Giroux spent Friday signing virtual autographs as the cover athlete for Topps NHL Skate 2017, a new onilne digital trading card game. Remember when trading cards came in a bubble gum pack? 

After the event, Giroux sat down with CSN's Michael Barkann on Philly Sports Talk for a game of “Who Does It Better: Canada or the United States?”

The game started off with a few easy softball questions, with Giroux picking the NFL over the Candian Football League. Then it got a little tougher, as Giroux chose Canadian hockey over U.S. hockey.

Despite talents like Drake and Shania Twain, Giroux went with the U.S. over Canada in music, and also chose American bacon over Canadian bacon.

Eventually, Barkann asked Giroux which beer he preffered.

“I don’t drink beer," Giroux responded.

Really? What Canadian doesn't like beer?

As he started to get up out of his seat after the interview, Giroux showed his true colors. “I love beer. I love beer,” he said.

Check out the video above to see the full game. 

Wayne Gretzky defends Connor McDavid's outburst over Brandon Manning

Wayne Gretzky defends Connor McDavid's outburst over Brandon Manning

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As the primary target of opponents over his Hall of Fame career, Wayne Gretzky can certainly empathize with the frustration of Oilers star Connor McDavid.

McDavid and Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning jostled all evening long in a 6-5 Edmonton loss. McDavid denounced the tactics of his opponent after the game, claiming Manning intentionally injured him last season; McDavid missed 37 games with a broken collarbone.

"I guess we can put the whole 'if he did it' thing to rest because what he said out there kind of confirmed that," said McDavid, who taunted Manning after scoring the second goal in the Oilers' loss.

"I think anybody who knows me or who has played with or against me along the road here, knows that I am not that kind of player," Manning said, according to a statement released by the Flyers. "I am not out there intentionally trying to hurt people. I'm a guy who plays the game hard and I take pride in that."

Gretzky didn't mind seeing that fire in McDavid, saying competitiveness is part of what makes the great ones great. And he said the targeting comes with the territory of being a superstar. It was something he and Mario Lemieux dealt with, too.

"And Connor, he's going to get tested every night, but this is not new for him," Gretzky said Friday at the NHL board of governors meetings. "He's been tested since he was a kid and then playing junior hockey and now in the NHL and he's always responded and done his part."