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Flyers could use some luck

Photo/Mark Zimmaro

Can 13 be the lucky number?

For the first time in their history, barring any trades, the Philadelphia Flyers will select 13th in the National Hockey League’s Entry Draft, which is set to take place July 23-34.

This puts the Flyers in a middling position during a somewhat weak draft, with professional scouts unable to adequately do their jobs due to games and junior leagues having been canceled due to the pandemic.

In other words, it’ll be a crapshoot. So maybe it’s a good year to have lucky 13?

On that note, we won’t waste time predicting whom the Flyers are targeting at 13 since there are sure to be a few surprise picks before them. Also, the Flyers could be a big player on the trade market come draft day and their No. 13 pick could certainly be in play if it is part of a package that brings back a top defender.

What we can do is look at the history of the 13th pick over recent years. 

The results are, you guessed it, middling. 

It’s not to say that good players aren’t available at 13, as several teams have swung and missed on superstars that went later. Nikita Kucherov (58th in 2011), David Pastrnak (25th in 2014) and Mathew Barzal (16th in 2015) are just the tip of the iceberg.

Starting in 2007 and ending in 2016, the 10 guys who were selected 13th were Lars Eller, Colton Teubert, Zack Kassian, Brandon Gormley, Sven Baertschi, Radek Faksa, Josh Morrissey, Jakub Vrana, Jakub Zboril and Jake Bean.

There are a few good players, some steady NHL contributors and a couple of duds. What you won’t find is a bona fide superstar among that group. The year 2017 offers some hope with up-and-coming Nick Suzuki, who was drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights and was traded to the Montreal Canadiens, where he is beginning to flourish. The three most recent years were Ty Dellandrea, Spencer Knight and Seth Jarvis, who are still cutting their teeth, although Knight showed some flash as the Panthers goaltender late in their playoff series this spring.

And we’re not cherry picking names if you want to go back even further. Alex Semin is probably the biggest name or maybe Dustin Brown if you go with a depth player who was a captain of a Stanley Cup-winning team. But we’re saving you the trouble of Googling guys like Marek Zagrapan, who went 13th to the Buffalo Sabres in 2005.

So picking more than a dozen spots back should be a challenge but it’s something the Flyers have done somewhat well.

Since 2006, Flyers late first-round picks have included Claude Giroux (22nd in 2006); Luca Sbisa (19th in 2008); Scott Laughton (20th in 2012); Travis Sanheim (17th in 2014); Travis Konecny (24th, 2015); German Rubstov (22nd in 2016); Morgan Frost (27th in 2017); Joel Farabee (14th in 2018); Cam York (14th in 2019); and Tyson Foerster (23rd in 2020).

Sbisa and Rubstov, of course, didn’t pan out. But Philly has managed to fill its roster with able bodies when it’s no guarantee first-round picks make it to the NHL. 

Just Google Marek Zagrapan.

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