Flyers learn their 1st-round spot in draft; West team climbs to grab top pick


If there was any flicker of light still left in the Connor Bedard pipe dream, it was put out Monday night.

There was no improbable climb for the Flyers in the 2023 NHL draft lottery. Barring a trade, the Flyers are set to pick at No. 7 when the first round of the entry draft rolls around in late June. The club entered the lottery seventh in the pecking order and stayed put.

The Blackhawks, who had the third-best lottery odds at 11.5 percent, landed the No. 1 overall spot and, as a result, won the Bedard sweepstakes. The 17-year-old Canadian center is widely considered a generational type of talent and the no-brainer top pick.

The Flyers had a 6.5 percent chance to win the No. 1 selection. Per, they held a 6.7 percent chance at climbing to No. 2 and a 0.2 percent shot at No. 3. They couldn't finish in the fourth, fifth or sixth slots. They were most likely to remain at No. 7 (44.4 percent), while having a 36.5 percent chance at sliding to No. 8. They could fall no lower than ninth overall (5.6 percent).

In 2022, the Flyers had a top-five pick for the second time over the last 15 years. They grabbed U.S. forward Cutter Gauthier at No. 5.

The last time the Flyers finished with a spot in the top three was 2017, when they somehow climbed from the 13th position to No. 2 overall. They had a 2.4 percent chance at the second pick that summer and landed it, selecting center Nolan Patrick out of the WHL.

Here is the organization's history at picking No. 7 or higher:

  • Cutter Gauthier — 2022, fifth overall
  • Nolan Patrick — 2017, second overall
  • Ivan Provorov — 2015, seventh overall
  • James van Riemsdyk — 2007, second overall
  • Joni Pitkanen — 2002, fourth overall
  • Ryan Sittler — 1992, seventh overall
  • Peter Forsberg — 1991, sixth overall
  • Mike Ricci — 1990, fourth overall
  • Ron Sutter — 1982, fourth overall
  • Behn Wilson — 1978, sixth overall
  • Ken Linseman — 1978, seventh overall
  • Mel Bridgman — 1975, first overall
  • Bill Barber — 1972, seventh overall
  • Bob Currier — 1969, sixth overall
  • Serge Bernier — 1967, fifth overall

Right now, the Flyers have nine selections for the 2023 draft, which will be held June 28-29 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

"We're fortunate it's a good year," Flyers interim general manager Danny Briere said of the draft crop last month. "We have quite a few picks and we have a high one.

"As far as what we're going to do there, it's way too early. We're going to look, we're going to inquire to see what we can do. But the most likely is we're going to keep our pick and pick in the slot we're going to end up with."

It's possible the Flyers could have 10 picks. By choosing to not sign 2018 first-round selection Jay O'Brien, the Flyers will receive a second-round compensatory selection in either 2023 or 2024.

"It's been months, it feels like, that we've been trying to figure out exactly when the compensation [conveys], but we've told his camp that no, we weren't going to [sign] him," Briere said three weeks ago. "The next part is just waiting to see when that pick comes."

The Flyers are in the process of hiring a president of hockey operations. Chuck Fletcher was fired in March, which made Briere interim general manager. The former Flyer is the clear-cut front-runner for the full-time role once the club names a new president of hockey ops to run the front office.

Assistant general manager Brent Flahr has overseen the Flyers' draft efforts since 2019. His ties to Fletcher go back to the 90s when the two worked together with the Panthers. Briere said in March his expectation was that Flahr's job was secure and the AGM would lead the Flyers' draft.

"I have a great relationship with Brent," the interim GM said. "He's been tremendous, he's included me on everything since I started working with Chuck. I have a lot of confidence in Brent. You look at his track record at the draft, it's pretty impressive."

Under Flahr, the Flyers have taken defenseman Cam York (14th overall — 2019), winger Tyson Foerster (23rd overall — 2020) and Gauthier in the first round. Two summers ago, about six hours before the 2021 draft kicked off, Fletcher dealt the Flyers' first-round pick to the Sabres in the trade for Rasmus Ristolainen.

York became a regular on the Flyers' blue line in December this season, Foerster opened eyes in an eight-game audition with the big club and Gauthier had a strong freshman season at Boston College. The Flyers view all three as foundation pieces.

Among the 2023 draft prospects, Bedard is the runaway headliner. At the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, he led his country to gold by setting a Team Canada record for most-ever points in the tournament with 23 over seven games. With the WHL's Regina Pats, he put up 71 goals and 72 assists in 57 games this season. His 143 points led all Canadian major junior hockey.

Adam Fantilli, a center who starred at Michigan this season, is regarded as the favorite to go No. 2. Leo Carlsson, William Smith, Matvei Michkov, Zach Benson, Oliver Moore, Ryan Leonard, Dalibor Dvorsky and Andrew Cristall are among those with top-10 potential.

2023 lottery results

  • 1. Blackhawks
  • 2. Ducks
  • 3. Blue Jackets
  • 4. Sharks
  • 5. Canadiens
  • 6. Coyotes
  • 7. Flyers
  • 8. Capitals
  • 9. Red Wings
  • 10. Blues
  • 11. Canucks
  • 12. Coyotes (from Senators)
  • 13. Sabres
  • 14. Penguins
  • 15. Predators
  • 16. Flames

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