With slim odds, the Flyers didn't strike gold in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes.
But they will have a chance to bring in some needed high-end talent near the top of the 2023 NHL draft.
"We're fortunate it's a good year," Flyers general manager Danny Briere said of the draft crop in April. "We have quite a few picks and we have a high one.
"You have to go through a lot of bad times to get there unfortunately, but it's exciting when you're at the draft table and you get to pick such a high pick. It's going to be a critical pick for the organization moving forward, there's no doubt about it."
After selecting Cutter Gauthier fifth overall last summer, the Flyers are slotted at No. 7 for this year's draft, which will be held June 28-29 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. With the Ivan Provorov trade, the Flyers acquired the 22nd overall pick, giving them two first-rounders and 10 total selections in the draft. The first round kicks off at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday, while Rounds 2-7 follow Thursday starting at 11 a.m. ET.
Leading up to the draft, we're breaking down targets for the Flyers at No. 7.
With a well-rounded, pro-style game, Reinbacher is arguably the top defenseman in the draft.
He’s a strong defender and reads the ice well with the puck on his stick.
Playing against men in the National League, Switzerland’s highest pro level, the 18-year-old steadily boosted his stock over the course of this season. The Austrian recorded 22 points (three goals, 19 assists) in 46 games and his plus-7 rating was second best on Kloten.
Last month at the IIHF World Championship, Reinbacher had an assist and was a plus-1 in four games.
“I think it’s him or [Axel] Sandin Pellikka will go No. 1 overall [among defensemen],” Dan Marr, the director of NHL Central Scouting, said June 1 in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. “But Reinbacher, it’s always an extra check mark or plus mark when you’re playing in a pro league on a regular basis and contributing. And then he had a good run with the Austria men’s team. What he shows an NHL club is that he’s got good size, he’s got good skills and good smarts, but he’s got that composure that’s very important for the position that he plays.”
As the fifth-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting, Reinbacher climbed five spots from his No. 10 midterm mark.
“The GMs and coaches, they like to have these defensemen that understand the position and that they get it,” Marr said. “Having played pro, he hasn’t been playing the game where he’s the guy that gets the puck and leads the rush all of the time or he’s the offensive guy with the puck. He’s learned where the best play is when you make the first pass out of the zone. And then the smart plays are keeping pucks alive at the offensive blue line and having the good positioning, good gap, good stick, defending your own blue line to keep the puck out of your own zone.”
“He’s had some good coaching and he’s got some good, sound habits and practices to his game where he understands and he plays his position well,” Marr said. “And then he has all the skills and tools that you want to see in a defenseman at that age.
“To play in the men’s league, these European players, they do have to have the maturity that they can handle it. He has shown he has that maturity, as well.”
Fit with Flyers
Considering how top-heavy the 2023 class is with forwards, the Flyers could have a shot at taking whoever they view as the best defenseman in the draft.
What makes Reinbacher particularly enticing is his pro-readiness. He has the look of a quick climber, which could appeal to the Flyers, a rebuilding club that has struggled mightily to find long-term stability on the back end.
Teams always want more righty-shot blueliners. If the Flyers were to draft Reinbacher, there would be exciting potential to eventually pair him alongside Cam York. The Flyers' 2019 first-round pick is only 22 years old. He's a smaller, puck-moving, lefty shot — qualities that could complement Reinbacher in the future.
The Flyers have used a first-round pick on a defenseman just once over the last seven drafts and it was York.
But will the Flyers see enough upside in Reinbacher? While he’s super reliable in many areas and viewed by some experts as top-pair caliber, he might not be the most dynamic player. Perhaps the Flyers will still view a forward as the best and most talented player available if a blueliner is not yet taken.
However, with the Flyers’ glaring need at his position, there’s a lot to like with Reinbacher.