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Can Flyers hit on NHL draft's 19th overall pick? A look at the history

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Can Flyers hit on NHL draft's 19th overall pick? A look at the history

With the Flyers’ season over, it’s time to move forward to another busy NHL draft season, and what shapes up to be the most important offseason of Ron Hextall’s tenure as GM.

The Flyers have nine picks in June’s draft, including two first-rounders — No. 14 (from the Blues) and No. 19. Three of the nine picks have been acquired by Hextall via trades. 

Not including the previous two drafts, there have been seven players at No. 19 who never played in the league, but there have been significant hits. Let’s take a look at some hits and misses before we do the same for the 14th selection another day.

Hits

1990: Keith Tkachuk, LW, Jets
Tkachuk may not be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but there indeed is a case for him. Over his 20-year career, he scored 538 goals, 527 assists and 1065 points in 1,201 games. He’s a five-time All-Star and an Olympian. He’s in the USA Hockey Hall of Fame. In 1996-97, he became the first American-born player to lead the league in goals with 52.

2003: Ryan Getzlaf, C, Ducks
Getzlaf is still playing and producing — 61 points in 56 games in 2017-18 — and is a product of the heralded 2003 draft, perhaps one of the deepest ever. He’s a three-time All-Star, a Stanley Cup champion and has 628 assists and 875 points in 917 career games.

1998: Robyn Regehr, D, Avalanche
Regehr enjoyed a steady career over 15 seasons. He went to Calgary as part of the Theo Fleury trade in 1999 and spent 11 of his 15 years with the Flames. Regehr won a Cup with L.A. in 2014.

1989: Olaf Kolzig, G, Capitals
Kolzig had quite the NHL career. He was a two-time All-Star, the 2000 Vezina Trophy winner and holds most of Washington’s goalie records: wins (301), games played (711), shutouts (35).

2012: Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Lightning
Could argue it’s too early to include Vasilevskiy, but the Russian backstopped the Lightning to the best record in the East during his first full season as the starter.

Misses

2000: Krys Kolanos, C, Coyotes
Kolanos' career was hampered by a severe concussion he suffered in 2002, his rookie season. Sill, he bounced around between four NHL teams and spent a season with the Phantoms. The former Boston College standout had just 20 goals and 42 points in 149 games.

2007: Logan MacMillan, C, Ducks
MacMillan, the son of former NHLer Bob MacMillan, lasted 30 games in the Ducks’ system before they traded him away. He never played in the NHL. Wasn’t a huge scorer in junior. The Ducks drafted him over the likes of Max Pacioretty (22), Mikael Backlund (24), David Perron (26) and P.K. Subban (43).

Analysis
Two years ago, the Flyers held the 18th pick in the draft. They traded back a few spots to draft German Rubtsov and acquire more picks. The 19th pick has produced some high-end players and plenty of useful role players. There have been busts too but that’s true with any spot.

It’s unfair to expect a 19th pick to have a franchise-changing impact. If it happens, great. But ideally, you want to look for a valuable middle-sixer or second-pair defenseman with potential. If the Flyers stay pat with both first-rounders, it wouldn’t be a shock to see a move down.

With back-to-back wins, are Flyers finally starting to mature?

With back-to-back wins, are Flyers finally starting to mature?

When Jori Lehtera was sent off the ice for a five-minute boarding major and a 10-minute game misconduct Wednesday night, the most loyal followers of the orange and black had every reason to believe the Flyers were entering their self-destruction phase once again.

After all, we had seen this storyline play out on numerous occasions already this season.

Forced to kill off a five-minute power play to the NHL second-ranked power play should have doomed this team, but against the Bruins, something was different.

“We’re starting to show some character and maturity, even playing with a lead we’re a little bit more comfortable now,” Sean Couturier said after scoring a natural hat trick in the Flyers' 4-3 win over the Bruins (see observations). “We’re doing some little things right.”

A lot of those little things have been resolved finally through their penalty kill, in which the Flyers successfully killed off nine straight minutes of power-play time, including nearly six minutes in a hard-fought third period. For those who believed assistant coach Ian Laperriere should take the fall for the PK’s horrific start this season, interim head coach Scott Gordon begs to differ.

“Lappy has done a great job as far as the pre-scouting. You guys don’t see that,” Gordon said. “He’s been on target every single time. As far as the aggressiveness, that’s the one thing I’ve been really pleased with. When you lose a lot of games, you realize what’s not going right. Sometimes you have to learn through the struggles and the adversity.”

That aggressiveness is why the Flyers have now strung together back-to-back wins for just the second time in the past two months, and the biggest part of that success is a rookie goaltender that many within the organization believed needed the necessary AHL seasoning before he could be thrown into the frying pan of an NHL game.

Eleven games into his career, the 20-year-old Carter Hart is playing like he has the emotional fortitude of someone in their mid-to-late 40s. It just seems like there’s no way Hart could have the capacity to handle the adversity of falling behind 2-0 in back-to-back games to only stay composed and have his team rally back to beat the Wild and the Bruins.    

“You can tell he’s a mature kid,” Couturier said. “He prepares himself pretty well. He does a lot of little things away from the rink that help his game on the ice. He’s pretty calm back there. He’s above his age.”   

“I think it’s just how you approach the game. It’s everything,” Hart said. “It’s coming to the rink for practice, for games, whatever it is. Just coming in ready to work. I think if you work hard no matter how old you are, guys will respect you.”

With that, Hart gets to the heart of the matter. He embraces putting in the hard work of practice, much like Couturier has done from the time he started his NHL career at the age of 18. You can’t create a championship culture by cutting a few corners. So if the organization is planning ahead to next season, Hart and Couturier should be those cornerstone players. 

Outside of that, the Flyers have a lot more maturing to go through if they want to join the league’s elite.

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Flyers 4, Bruins 3: Sean Couturier records first career regular-season hat trick in win

Flyers 4, Bruins 3: Sean Couturier records first career regular-season hat trick in win

BOX SCORE

Would you believe the Flyers have their first winning streak in almost a full month?

Sean Couturier registered his first career regular-season hat trick Wednesday night as the Flyers knocked off the Bruins, 4-3, at the Wells Fargo Center. It's the Flyers' second straight win and second straight game in which a Flyer had a hat trick — James van Riemsdyk had one Monday.

Despite being badly outshot, the Flyers received outstanding goaltending again from Carter Hart, and surprisingly, the penalty kill is stepping up in a big way.

• There’s been a lot of talk linking the Bruins and Wayne Simmonds. The Bruins, having scratched David Backes for this game, have been looking to add some toughness and grit. If the two sides engage in trade talks, there’s two players that caught my eye in this game: left winger Peter Cehlarik and defenseman Brandon Carlo. Of course, the Bruins may not have interest in parting with either player, but Cehlarik certainly looks like a player who could be slotted in a top-six role, scoring two, while Carlo brings size and an ability to jump in offensively.

• I’ve discussed how the Flyers' PK was a personnel issue during Dave Hakstol’s time here when he tried to incorporate guys like Oskar Lindblom and Jori Lehtera into a heavy PK role. Lindblom has improved his shorthanded play, and it showed in this game. Operating at roughly 83 percent over their past 25 games, the PK had a defining moment in this game when it was forced to kill a five-minute major. It helped tremendously that the penalty extended from the end of the second period to the beginning of the third, but not only did the PK keep the Bruins to the outside, but Hart came up with three key saves.

• Not just that, but the Flyers were also whistled for too many men and Scott Laughton was called for hooking with eight minutes remaining in regulation. This may be the first game this season where the Flyers can say their penalty kill won them the game.

• The result of the extended power play came as a result of a boneheaded play from Lehtera after he dumped Ryan Donato head-first into the boards. It was Lehtera’s second penalty as he racked up 17 PIM and barely saw the ice in the third period. In case you’re asking, I have no idea why he’s still on this team. They can’t dump him in Lehigh Valley as the Phantoms have reached their veteran max, but after this game, the only way I’m playing Lehtera is in the event of an emergency.

• I was surprised at the pace of the opening 20 minutes — very loose and open as you would expect the Bruins to play tighter defensively. The Flyers had a couple of cross-ice plays that led to quality scoring chances, including one from Nolan Patrick, who was robbed by Jaroslav Halak’s right pad on the crease. Once again, that third line of Patrick, Simmonds and Laughton played well and gelled early.

• Flyers leading scorer Sean Couturier added two goals in a span of one minute and 15 seconds before adding a third for his first regular-season hat trick late in the third period. Quietly, Couturier now has 19 goals and is now on track for his second straight 30-goal season. If I had to vote right now for the Bobby Clarke Award as Flyers MVP, Couturier would be the guy.  

• Couturier should have been awarded a penalty shot when he was interfered with in the final seconds of the game. Had David Krejci now obstructed Couturier’s path, he would have scored four goals.

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