For the Flyers, what might have been
As I watch the Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s hard to get past the fact that the Flyers had the chance to draft Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar.
The 23-year-old is the postseason’s leading scorer and recently won what will likely be the first of numerous Norris Trophies as the league’s best backliner. Meanwhile, Philly endured a disastrous year, and just hired veteran coach John Tortorella to try to change its fortunes.
Oh, and the franchise’s drought has now stretched to 47 years without a Stanley Cup.
When a team is as bad as the Flyers have gotten, the reasons are manifold. But the decision to take Nolan Patrick with the No. 2 pick in 2017 instead of Makar was a mistake of epic proportions.
Makar’s skill set is other worldly, and his numbers are incredible for a D-man: 180 career points in 178 regular season games and 60 points in 54 playoff contests. It’s impressive enough when a forward posts those kinds of numbers – but a defenseman?
I remember at the time, Nico Hischier and Patrick were considered the top two draft prospects in 2017. But apparently some Flyers’ scouts wanted to draft Makar, and then-general manager Ron Hextall went with Patrick instead.
Patrick has since been traded to Las Vegas; he’s yet to come close to being the player the Flyers envisioned when they chose him.
Now Philadelphia is about to select high again – No. 5 – in the NHL draft. This time, the franchise must get it right and grab a foundational piece. The Flyers blew it once. They can’t do it again.