NEW YORK -- Redemption is a strong word.
In the Flyers' case, as it pertains to the draft, it’s long overdue.
Sunday’s NHL Draft in Newark, N.J., is one of the best ever (see story). And it offers the Flyers a chance to start on the path of redemption -- and to start finding more NHL talent in later rounds.
Historically, the Flyers have done well in the first round despite drafting fairly low –- a consequence of going deep most playoff years.
In the last 13 drafts alone, going back to 2000, the Flyers have had 12 first-round picks. Ten have or are playing in the NHL, although just two of those -- Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier -- are currently with the team.
But the point is that their first-round picks always make the roster. The problem has been that they have drafted poorly from the second round on.
First off, the club often uses its second-round picks as trade bait. Yet even when the Flyers have kept them around, their turnover rate for those picks becoming actual NHL players is terrible.
Since 1995, their best second-round player who made it to the NHL has been Andreas Nodl, now playing for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Which means they have “zero” second-round picks playing in orange and black. That’s unacceptable.
Their true bright spot is last year’s second-round pick -- goalie Anthony Stolarz.
Looking at the Flyers’ picks from third round through seventh since 2000, they have just four drafted players who are active and playing regular minutes on an NHL roster, but only one player on their own roster -- Zac Rinaldo:
· Rinaldo – 2009 (6th round, 178th overall);
· Colin Fraser – 2003 (3rd, 67th) with Los Angeles;
· Patrick Sharp – 2001 (3rd, 95th) with Chicago and
· Dennis Seidenberg – 2001 (6th, 172) with Boston
A few late-rounds picks have given them some relief here.
Eric Wellwood (2009, 6th, 172nd) and Oliver Lauridsen (2009, 7th, 196th) have provided the Flyers with some call-up minutes, as has Marc-Andre Bourdon (2008, 3rd, 67th), whose career has been jeopardized by post-concussion syndrome.
If an NHL prospect is going to make it, he’ll generally hit the big-league roster within four or five years. Otherwise, he’s destined to become a career minor leaguer.
The most common exceptions are goaltenders. Of course, the Flyers have not any goalie-drafting success in over a decade.
The most-recent Flyers-drafted goaltender to start a game in the NHL was Roman Cechmanek, who was already 29 years old by the time he was taken in the 6th round of the 2000 draft.
Incredibly, “Checko” -- not Bernie Parent -- still holds the Flyers’ all-time record for goals against average (50+ games) at 1.96, even though he was regarded by teammates as a head case who once walked off the ice during a playoff game in Ottawa to protest how Bill Barber’s team was playing in front of him.
All that aside, players from the 2009 draft forward are still developing, if you go by the four- or five-year rule.
Yet the undeniable fact is that the Flyers, as an organization, have been woefully inadequate in their drafts since the 1990s outside of the first round and need to start producing NHL players on their roster.