By Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
The second overall pick in the NHL draft can be both a blessing and a curse. You don’t get that chance to pick anybody you want, but in some cases like this year, there’s no pressure for the Flyers at number two. All the pressure is on New Jersey to choose between Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick, and the Flyers have to settle for whoever’s left. The term “settle” in this case isn’t a bad thing, as both prospects are neck-and-neck in the rankings.
Both the top picks are so close this year, but that’s not always the case. With the anticipation building for the Flyers to pick 2nd overall for the first time in a decade, I’ll go back and review the past ten years of 2nd overall picks to determine the chances of success the Flyers will have.
2007- James Van Riemsdyk (PHI)
The Flyers lost the first pick to the Blackhawks in the lottery, and had to draft JVR instead. While JVR was never bad per say, he certainly hasn’t lived up to his 2nd overall selection. He didn’t have the immediate impact the Flyers wanted him to, so they moved him to Toronto in one of the worst trades in recent memory. With guys like Shattenkirk, Couture and McDonagh drafted after him, it wasnt the best choice the Flyers could have made.
2008- Drew Doughty (LA)
A solid one-two punch after Steven Stamkos was taken first, LA didn’t suffer, as they walked away with a Norris Trophy winner. Still one of the top defenseman in the league, the Kings made their 2nd overall pick count.
2009- Victor Hedman (TBL)
Hedman is coming off the best season of his career and was more than worthy of the 2nd overall selection. Hedman was the best ranked European skater available in the draft and that can still be said, holding the slight edge on the sixth overall pick Oliver Ekman-Larsson. A key piece of Tampa’s Cup run in 2015, Hedman will be a cornerstone in Tampa Bay for years to come.
2010- Tyler Seguin (BOS)
It was originally Toronto’s pick, but was traded to Boston as part of the Phil Kessel trade. If the 2010 draft was re-done today, Seguin would have easily gone first overall, rather than Taylor Hall. Consistently in the top 15 in points in the NHL, Seguin is the type of player a team dreams falls to number two.
2011- Gabriel Landeskog (COL)
2011 was a fairly weak draft, it was a disappointing first round all the way through. Landeskog hasn’t quite lived up to the hype, and with guys like Mark Scheifele starting to blossom, im sure Colorado is regretting their choice.
2012- Ryan Murray (CBJ)
Woof. A draft where all five top picks have struggled at the NHL level. In fact, the whole draft was weak. If re-drafted today, Filip Forsberg would probably go first overall and Andrei Vasilevskiy would go second. A really slow year for talented youth. Murray isn’t a total bust yet, but he just doesn’t yet have the credentials to back up a 2nd overall selection.
2013 Alex Barkov (FLA)
We’re coming into territory where some players are just getting their feet wet in the NHL. MacKinnon is still the best selection for first overall, the second pick is up for debate, however. Barkov hasn’t been bad, actually from a point perspective, he’s doing great. However, injures have taken their toll already for Barkov. He has yet to play a full NHL season, and broke the 70 game mark just once in his four-year career. If Barkov can stay healthy for a full season, he will definitely earn that second overall pick.
2014- Sam Reinhart (BUF)
Now, Reinhart is one of my personal favorite players, but in terms of hype, he hasn’t lived up to his original potential. He is slowly coming into his own, but he’s stuck with an anemic Buffalo squad that, other than Jack Eichel (I’ll get to him), has trouble scoring. With the emergence of third overall pick Leon Draisaitl, Reinhart isn’t looking like the best selection possible.
2015- Jack Eichel (BUF)
Buffalo was robbed of the first overall pick by the lottery, so they had to settle for Jack Eichel instead. Jack took a huge step forward in 2016-17 with 57 points in 61 games. He has the potential to form a solid one-two punch with Sam Reinhart that will terrorize other teams for years to come. While he is still a distant second to McDavid, by no means has Buffalo suffered with Eichel.
2016- Patrick Laine (WPG)
73 NHL games, three hat tricks, 36 goals, and 64 points. The rookie sensation broke the Jets/Thrashers record for most goals by a rookie, a record formerly held by Ilya Kovalchuk. He’s only one season in and is going to be an elite level talent for a long time. Forming instant chemistry with linemate Mark Scheifele, the Jets fell just six points short or a playoff spot. Laine is one of the best pure scorers in the game today, and now with a full season under his belt, he is putting the league on lookout.
2017- ?? (PHI)
The 2nd overall pick is the best consolation prize a team can have, especially when that team was originally supposed to pick 13th. The last missing piece to the Flyers rebuild was an elite second line center, a role either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier could fill. Whether the impact is immediate or takes a couple of seasons, the Flyers lucked out big time winning the coveted second overall pick.
photo credit: Richard Spalding via Sabrenoise.com