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NHL completes 2021 lottery as Flyers learn their 1st-round draft position originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Flyers finished with the No. 13 overall pick at the 2021 NHL draft lottery in Secaucus, New Jersey, an outcome that was most likely for the club going into Wednesday night's annual league raffle.
The Flyers entered the lottery with a 3.8 percent chance to climb into the top two of the draft order. Originally slotted at 14th overall (but actually at 13th; more on that below), the Flyers held a 1.8 percent chance to hit the No. 1 jackpot and a 2.0 percent chance to grab the second pick. There was a 4.9 percent chance they'd fall one spot, but they stayed put.
"Picking 13, it's a high pick, it's a deep draft and I think our scouts are confident that there will be a wide range of good hockey players available to us at that pick," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Wednesday night in an interview with senior director of communications Zack Hill.
There was no miracle like in 2017, when the Flyers had only a 2.4 percent chance at the No. 2 overall pick and landed it, eventually selecting Nolan Patrick out of the WHL.
The Flyers have seven picks in the 2021 draft, which will be held virtually July 23-24. This year's draft will be the Flyers' third under Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr.
In the first round of 2019, the Flyers traded three spots back on draft night and took Cam York at 14th overall. No, the Flyers did not take goal-scoring savant Cole Caufield, nor did 13 other teams. And, yes, the jury will and should remain out for quite some more years on the York-Caufield debate. Then, in 2020, the Flyers used their first-round selection on Tyson Foerster at 23rd overall.
While still very early, so far, so good on those two picks for the Flyers.
This season, York, a point-producing blueliner, won a gold medal at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship as the U.S. captain, earned Big Ten Defenseman of the Year and ended up playing in the Flyers' final three games.
With the 2020-21 OHL season canceled because of COVID-19, Foerster, a shot-seeking winger, played at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. He scored 17 points and finished second on the Phantoms with 10 goals over 24 games as a 19-year-old.
Like every year, there is a possibility the Flyers could pursue or listen on trade offers in exchange for their first-round spot. The Flyers are coming off an ugly 2020-21 campaign and have pressure to jump back into contention next season. A first-round pick is a juicy asset to fill present needs, and the Flyers clearly have some needs — i.e. top-pair defenseman.
Before the 2019 draft, Fletcher called the Flyers' 11th overall position a "pretty good chip" and that he "wouldn't hesitate to move it if it could really help" the club. However, NHL teams are not quick to give up first-round draft picks in the top-15 range. Those spots garner significant, impact talent in return.
The coronavirus pandemic made 2020-21 an unprecedented draft year with various challenges for prospects and scouting staffs.
"There are a lot of guys that are good prospects at different levels," Flahr said Tuesday to NBC Sports Philadelphia. "It will be interesting to see if teams go with players that they know or have a better comfort level with versus players that potentially have more upside that haven't been seen as much."
Does this year's first-round talent favor any position group?
"There's probably more variety," Flahr said. "There's a couple of quality defensemen early in the draft, there's a few centermen, a few scoring wingers — there's different variety and even a couple of goaltenders for the first round this year.
"Our staff has done a good job, our regional guys stayed in their leagues for the most part. Obviously certain guys traveled as much as they could, but we've got quality viewings on everybody with the exception of Ontario (OHL season was canceled because of COVID-19); we've seen as much as anybody else has and we've done whatever we can for video.
"First round is a decent first round with some depth. There's a drop-off point, but we're pretty confident we're getting a good player at 14 if that's where we pick."
2021 lottery results
1. Buffalo Sabres
2. Seattle Kraken
3. Anaheim Ducks
4. New Jersey Devils
5. Columbus Blue Jackets
6. Detroit Red Wings
7. San Jose Sharks
8. Los Angeles Kings
9. Vancouver Canucks
10. Ottawa Senators
11. Chicago Blackhawks
12. Calgary Flames
13. Philadelphia Flyers
14. Dallas Stars
15. New York Rangers
The NHL announced the forfeiture of the Coyotes' 2021 first-round pick in sanctions released on Aug. 26, 2020. Arizona was slotted at No. 11, so each club behind it bumped up one spot.
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