By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
Day 1 of the 2022 NHL Draft is in the books and the focus shifts to Day 2 on Friday, with the draft resuming with Rounds 2 through 7 starting at 11 a.m.
For the Flyers, it could be a relatively quiet day on the draft front. The team has five picks on Day 2, but lacks a second-round pick, traded to acquire Rasmus Ristolainen from Buffalo last offseason. They will next pick with the 69th overall selection in the third round. They also have one pick in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds.
But it could also be an eventful day for the Flyers. Last offseason, the Flyers took the drama out of the first round of the draft when they moved the 13th overall pick to Buffalo in the Ristolainen trade. The next afternoon, just a few minutes before the draft resumed, they made a trade with Columbus to acquire Cam Atkinson in exchange for Jake Voracek. So there are some eventful trades that can go down in the draft floor.
That may be where the focus turns on this second day of the draft. Certainly, the Flyers can make all five of their picks on Day 2 and perhaps get a player who was second-round projected that slips into the third round. They could find a diamond in the rough in the middle to late rounds.
But this could also be an opportunity to put the finishing touches on a trade that follows the narrative of their aggressive retool for next season. There are a few possibilities here from the current roster.
For the Flyers to make significant additions this offseason, they will have to shed some salary. The most likely source is James van Riemsdyk, who has one year remaining on a five-year deal that pays an average annual value of $7 million. It’s possible that the Flyers decide to even retain salary in a trade of van Riemsdyk. Even if they retain $2 million of the cap hit, it still nets more cap space than just buying out his contract.
The Flyers could also look to move a young player who is established at the NHL level or a prospect to make an upgrade. Travis Konecny has been a name that has swirled around during trade rumors in the past and this offseason is no different. Perhaps the team moves on from Morgan Frost or even a Bobby Brink to make a more immediate upgrade.
Another possibility is the Flyers making a trade for a player’s rights. When the team signed Kevin Hayes prior to the 2019-20 season, it was after acquiring his rights from the Winnipeg Jets for a fifth-round pick. The Flyers could deal one of their Day 2 picks to obtain a few extra days to negotiate with a pending free agent and get the option for the extra year in a maximum term. The immediate name that comes to mind is Johnny Gaudreau, who the team will certainly be targeting as free agency approaches.
The Flyers need help at every position, so there isn’t anything that should be off the table outside of goaltender Carter Hart. That said, GM Chuck Fletcher needs to be careful about the price of freeing cap space and the return for players that could make an impact on the roster next season and be part of the solution for the future.
Fletcher said on Thursday night that there has been plenty of discussion and feels like trades will happen, whether on Friday during the draft or perhaps even closer to the open of free agency next Wednesday. In that time, we’ll see just how aggressive the Flyers will really be.