I just went through the list of players that have been traded away from the Flyers. It was an impressive list that included a handful of players we know (van Riemsdyk, Sharp, Carter, Richards) and a bunch of players that were just draft picks when we traded them (Pavelski, Carlson, Martin).
Over the past ten years or so, we've missed out on a complete NHL roster full of talented players. In those situations, at least, we got something in return for them. Now I want to look at some other players we've missed out on by drafting poorly. We'll start with the 2005 draft, because we used our first round pick that year to draft a guy who scored 9 goals for the franchise and has totaled more than 1,000 career penalty minutes.
2005: Ottawa, Ontario
Who we drafted: Steve Downie. The draft, in retrospect, was peppered with players who are now big contributors to their teams. Paul Holmgren drafted the 5'11" winger, Downie. He was promptly suspended from his junior team for (not joking) cross-checking his teammate in the face because he wouldn't stand naked with the rest of the rookies in the team hazing ritual. Jesus Fucking Christ.
Who we could have drafted: James Neal, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Ondrej Pavelec, Justin Abdelkader, Paul Statsny, and Mason Raymond were all taken in the second round. Kris Letang, Jonathan Quick, Cody Franson, and Ben Bishop were taken in the third round. Keith Yandle, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Anton Stralman were all taken later in the draft.
Who we should of drafted: Knowing our issues on defense the past few years, I'd go Letang. But Quick/Bishop are also acceptable, or really anybody that wasn't Steve Fucking Downie.
2006: Vancouver, British Columbia
Who we drafted: Claude Giroux
2007: Columbus, Ohio
Who we drafted: James van Riemsdyk. Of course, the draft lottery fucked us out of Patrick Kane, and whoever we drafted was always going to be overshadowed by Kane's dominance. I have no problem with JvR. The whole situation is just sad for us.
Who we could have drafted: Jake Voracek, PK Subban, Jamie Benn, Logan Couture, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Max Pacioretty, Wayne Simmonds, Carl Hagelin
Who we should of drafted: Subban, obviously. But think about it like this: if Simmonds, who we all love, was taken 2nd overall behind Kane when we lost the lottery, would we still love him as much as we do?
2008: Ottawa, Ontario
Who we drafted: Luca Sbisa. Initially, the Flyers' actual pick was #27. Through a series of trades, they ended up with #19 (the NHL was more fun back then and trades were a thing that happened). After one year, Sbisa was sent to Anaheim with Joffrey Lupul in the Chris Pronger trade. (Editor's note: both Sbisa and Lupul made Team #ShouldOfKept. Pick #27 was used by Washington to draft John Carlson, who we also should of kept.)
Who we could have drafted: Carlson, Roman Josi, Jordan Eberle, Michael Del Zotto, Gustav Nyquist, Jake Allen, Braden Holtby
Who we should of drafted: It doesn't really matter because we shipped them out west for Pronger. I'm almost glad we didn't take Carlson or Josi or Holtby, because we'd all feel sad about it right now.
2009: Montreal, Quebec
Who we drafted: Nobody in the first two rounds, then goalie Adam Morrison and defenseman Simon Bertilsson both in the third round. I mention their positions because nobody has heard of either of them.
Who we could have drafted: It's obviously pretty slim pickings from the third round on, but we could have netted Cody Eakin, Casey Cizikas, Mike Hoffman, or John Buccigross' Favorite Winger Erik Haula.
Who we should of drafted: We ended up getting Brayden Schenn out of this draft, so we actually did alright.
2010: Los Angeles, California
Who we drafted: Nobody in the first two rounds, then forward Michael Chaput in the third round. In a league with a salary cap (and cheap deals for young players), you just can't skip four top-60 picks in two years.
Who we could have drafted: Again, picking in the third round means you have to hit the lottery to get anything more than a replacement-level player. Here we would have been lucky to scope out John Klingberg, Petr Mrazek, Brendan Gallagher, or Mark Stone.
Who we should of drafted: A new GM would have been the smart move.
2011: St. Paul, Minnesota
Who we drafted: Sean Couturier
2012: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (boo)
Who we drafted: Scott Laughton. It's time to turn the page into guys who are still question marks. Laughton is still only 21, and despite the fact that he doesn't really contribute much it's hard to call him a bust. We can, however, scope out some people who've had a more immediate impact for their teams.
Who we could have drafted: Nobody much better than Laughton. Everyone taken after him seems to be in the same boat. It's guys you haven't heard of and names like Olli Maata, Joonas Korpisalo, Shayne Gostisbehere, Colton Parayko, and Erik Gustafsson. They contribute (maybe) a little bit to their NHL teams, but it's a recent development.
Who we should of drafted: Honestly, it looks like Laughton was the right move. Give it time.
2013: Newark, New Jersey (boo/yuck)
Who we drafted: Sam Morin.
Who we could have drafted: Max Domi, Andre Burakovsky, Marko Dano, Anthony Duclair.
Who we should of drafted: Like the previous year, I think we did alright. Obviously the Domi/Duclair duo is lighting it up in the desert, but the Flyers had a big need for defensemen and they addressed it by taking Gostisbehere, Morin, and Hagg in 2012 & 2013 (and then continued to address it for two more years).
2014: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (yo)
Who we drafted: Travis Sanheim. He's still in juniors, of course, and it looks like he might have some physical development to do in Lehigh Valley next year, but Sanheim's potential is exciting.
Who we could have drafted: Nick Schmaltz, Robby Fabbri, Kasperi Kapanen, David Pastrnak, John Quenneville, Alex Nedeldjkovic, Roland McKeown, Brayden Point, Linus Soderstrom, Gustav Forsling. A month ago I wouldn't have known any of these names besides Fabbri and Sami Kapanen's son, but they all featured pretty prominently at the World Juniors.
Who we should of drafted: Sanheim makes me a little nervous sometimes because he seems so small, but his skills tend to make up for that (at least now), and I trust Hextall to make sure he develops properly.
2015: Sunrise, Florida
Who we drafted: Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny. The best player on Russia's silver medal team, and the most underutilized player on Canada's sixth-place team (fire Dave Lowry into the sun).
We fucked up in 2005, there's no denying that. We got fucked by lady luck in 2007. We adopted a strategy for 2008-2010 that focused more on trading for overpaid players, which was also probably a bad idea. Those things are all not good.
But we nailed our picks in 2006 and 2011. And we've added almost a dozen solid prospects since drafting Couturier. The future is bright in Philadelphia, so try not to think about the fact that we could be icing a top line of Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn, Max Domi, PK Subban, and Roman Josi.