Sergei Bobrovsky Traded to Columbus, NHL Draft Preview


The NHL Draft takes place tonight at 7:00ET in Pittsburgh, and it’s a very important event for the Flyers. Not only because they’ll be adding new, talented young players to the team, but also because draft night is the biggest night for trades in the NHL. Since all 30 GMs are in the building for the draft, things get pretty hectic, and wild deals have been known to go down.

The Flyers got the trading started early today when they sent backup goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets for 3 draft picks. The Flyers recieved the 45th and 117th selections in this year’s draft, along with a 4th round pick in the 2013 draft. The trade made sense for both teams: Bobrovsky’s growth was stunted in Philadelphia behind $51M man Ilya Bryzgalov and he was making $1.75M, which made him one of the highest-paid backup goalies in the league. The draft picks also give the Flyers a lot more flexibility tonight: they can package the 45th pick with their 1st round selection (20th overall) to move up in the draft, or they can trade their first rounder away in a move for a big-time player and still have a pick in the first two rounds of the draft. For Columbus, they hope Bob will improve what was by far the worst goaltending corps in the NHL last season, and he’ll get a chance to play there with little pressure on him next season. They had an extra 2nd-round selection, so they were dealing from a position of strength.

Flyers Draft Scenarios:

The Flyers could undergo three courses of action tonight at the draft regarding their first round pick. They could trade up in the draft, stay where they are, or trade their pick. If they trade up, the move will most likely be for Finnish forward Teuvo Teravainen or North American defensemen Matthew Dumba or Griffin Reinhart. Rumors have it that the Flyers told all three of these players at the NHL Scouting Combine that they would attempt to select them if they were to trade up in the draft. Teravainen is a small, speedy forward listed at 5’11, 165. He’s only 17, and still needs to work on adding strength and improving defensively, but scouts have compared him to Claude Giroux with regards to his offensive gifts. Teravainen would likely take a few years to be ready for the NHL, but he’s got top-line upside. Dumba is an interesting prospect. He’s got average size for a defenseman (6’0, 170), but he loves to throw his body around and is a very physical player. He also has been known to get involved on the offensive end, and with his skill and upside some say he could develop into a franchise defenseman.

However, there are concerns about his character, as he’s gotten a reputation for being cocky and wanting to do things

his own way. It remains to be seen how he fits his immense talent into the team concept. Finally, there’s Griffin Reinhart, my personal choice if the Flyers trade up. The hulking defenseman (6’4, 202) has a cannon of a left-handed shot from the point, and his father was an NHL defenseman for many years. The question with Reinhart is whether he’ll learn to use his immense frame to be more aggressive and take full advantage of his size, and develop his offensive game more. If he makes these adjustments, he could turn out to be comparable to Shea Weber, while if he continues on his current path he compares more to be like Braydon Coburn. Either way, he’s a safe pick with high upside, and fits a need for the Flyers, both now and into the future (Kimmo Timonen’s contract expires next year, Chris Pronger may never play again).

If the Flyers stay at the 20th overall pick, which is looking less and less likely (rumors to come later in this post), they shouldn’t fret. The Flyers have had a lot of mid-to-late 1st round success over the years: Simon Gagne at 22 in 1998, Mike Richards at 24 in 2003, and Claude Giroux at 22 in 2006. This draft is seen as very deep defensively, so there are a number of good defensive prospects that will still be on the board for them, including Slater Koekkoek (my personal choice), Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, and Ludvig Bystrom. Most of these guys are conservative picks (although Pouliot has some offensive upside), but Koekkoek is another story. Koekkoek is dropping down draft boards due to concerns with a shoulder injury, meaning that the Flyers could garner a serious steal if he gets to them at 20. I see this as a similar situation to last season, when Sean Couturier unexpectedly dropped down to the 8th pick after a disappointing season that was the result of him playing with mononucleosis (mono) for much of the year. Koekkoek is 6’2, 190, and has both offensive upside and a physical presence. He’s also an above-average skater for a defenseman. He needs to hone both the offensive and defensive sides of his game, but he’s definitely got the potential to be an All-Star on the blueline.

There are also whispers that the Flyers may select a goaltender. The top two prospects in the net are Swede Oscar Dansk and Malcolm Subban, whose brother P.K. is a very good defenseman for the Canadians. Dansk is big and aggressive, and is the best puck-handling goalie in the draft. Subban is more of an upside pick, because he’s extremely athletic and has great lateral movement and glove/blocker reflexes, but he’s already got injury concerns at a young age and often finds himself relying too much on his athleticism rather than good positioning.

Finally, the Flyers could trade their first round pick tonight. This is where the rumors come in. The Flyers have been linked to big names like Columbus LW Rick Nash, Anaheim RW Bobby Ryan, Nashville D Shea Weber, Phoenix D Keith Yandle on the trade market. Nashville D Ryan Suter and New Jersey LW Zach Parise could also see their rights traded tonight, as they are set to become unrestricted free agents July 1st. Flyers beat reporter Sam Cardichi said the Flyers are unlikely to pursue Weber from Nashville, and despite the Flyers’ interest, reports are that Suter isn’t interested in playing in Philadelphia. The fact that the Flyers completed a seperate deal with Columbus for Sergei Bobrovsky (who almost surely would have been part of a Rick Nash trade) means that Nash will probably not become a Flyer. The Yandle rumors are just that: rumors. He’s a defenseman, but he’s known more for his puck-movement and offense, and he’s had some struggles in his own end of the ice. He’s very good offensively, and would be an upgrade over Matt Carle, a similar type of player, but probably not for the price the Flyers would have to pay for him.

That leaves Ryan. The Anaheim Ducks winger (and Cherry Hill, NJ native) has long been a favorite of the Flyers, and they’ve tried to trade for him on numerous occassions. One rumored deal has the Flyers killing two birds with one stone: acquiring Ryan AND the Ducks’ 6th overall selection in the draft in exchange for LW James van Riemsdyk, C Brayden Schenn, and the 20th pick in the draft. Another has the Flyers just looking for Ryan and not the pick. I’m not sure why the Flyers are so fixated on acquiring a top winger, but if they are I’d rather have it be Ryan than Nash, and if the Flyers could keep Schenn out of a potential deal (say, JVR + 20 for Ryan), I would be all for it.

It’s impossible to predict what will happen at the draft, but one thing’s for sure: chaos will ensue. With the salary cap set to rise to $70.3M this offseason, teams have more money to spend than ever, setting the stage for what should be a wild night of trades at the Draft tonight and an even wilder free agency period beginning on July 1st. I’ll be back tomorrow with a Draft recap. Enjoy the evening!