Connect with us


Plummeting Flyers Have Surging Canucks and Coyotes to Thank as Bedard Sweepstakes Heat Up

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

The NHL has just announced that the NHL Draft Lottery will be scheduled for the 8th of May and for those many teams that will be involved in the festivities, the prize of Connor Bedard beckons.

The unanimous number one overall prospect heading into the 2023 NHL Entry Draft has taken the hockey world by storm this year, not just because of his ridiculous 61-goal, 125-point season in just 51 games for the Regina Pats, but also because of his record-breaking World Junior Championship where he scored 9 goals and 23 points in only 7 games for Team Canada en route to the gold medal.

As things stood a few weeks ago, the Philadelphia Flyers finishing in the NHL’s bottom-5 seemed like a pipe dream – for those engaged in the tank for Bedard sweepstakes – however many of the teams that were below the Flyers have been winning games, while Philadelphia can’t seem to score goals or win games with a near full lineup of what was expected in 2022-23.

The Flyers have gone 6-14-4 since January 16th, which was when the wheels fell off offensively – primarily Travis Konecny’s slump. Before that matinee game against the Bruins, the Flyers were 7-1-0 in their previous 8 games, out-scoring their opponents 32-18. Since then, they’ve mustered up 50 goals in 24 games, while allowing 85 with a lineup that is technically filled with a lot of veterans.

In that time, the Vancouver Canucks have gone 11-7-2 since the hiring of Rick Tocchet, they are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games, and have won 5 consecutive games. They now sit 4 points up on Philadelphia with only 1 game in hand. The Arizona Coyotes – who were very much near the bottom and out of Philadelphia’s sight-lines – have gone 11-5-6 since the 22nd of January, 8-4-3 in the last month, and are 4-0-1 in their last 5 games, which has catapulted them ahead of the Flyers by 2 points, while playing 1 more game than Philadelphia.

Then we have the Montreal Canadiens, who just snapped their 7-game losing streak last night after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins. Before their losing streak, they had gone 9-7-1 and were geared up to potentially get past the Flyers in the standings comfortably. Their 7-game blip was expected with a difficult schedule but they now sit one point ahead of Philadelphia, while playing one more game, but have one more showdown against the Flyers at the end of the month – they will be looking for the season series sweep after they defeated the Flyers in a shootout in Montreal in November, and then just recently at the Wells Fargo Center in February.

As it stands right now, the Flyers are 28th in the league, ahead of only the Anaheim Ducks (54 points), Chicago Blackhawks (52 points), San Jose Sharks (51 points), and the Columbus Blue Jackets (49 points). They will be jockeying with the St. Louis Blues (63 points), Vancouver Canucks (63 points), Arizona Coyotes (61 points), and Montreal Canadiens (60 points) in the final stretch of the season.

Fortunately, for those wanting more losses, the schedule provides a tall task for anemic offense as the Flyers have the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings, and Montreal Canadiens coming into the confines of the Wells Fargo Center as the Flyers are 1 game into a 7-game homestand.

The draft lottery rules were changed a little a few years ago when they downsized from 3 lotteries to 2. Only the first 2 picks will be chosen through the lottery, no team can jump more than 10 spots, and you are not allowed to have more than 2 first overall selections in a 5-year span. Currently, the Blue Jackets hold a 25.5% chance of winning the first overall pick, followed by the Sharks at 13.5%, the Blackhawks at 11.5%, the Ducks at 9.5%, and the Flyers are 8.5%. The teams that are barely ahead of the Flyers and occupy spots 6-9 have a 7.5% chance at 6, 6.5% chance at 7, 6% chance at 8, and 5% chance at 9.

As we witnessed last year, when the Flyers finished 4th-last, they ended up picking at 5 because the odds are higher for the Flyers to slip a spot than to keep their current slot – due to plenty of other teams having a chance to jump ahead. Philadelphia, as previously mentioned, has an 8.5% chance right now to draft 1st overall, 8.8% chance to draft second overall, 24.5 % chance to draft 5th overall, 44.2% chance to draft 6th overall, and 13.9% chance to draft 7th overall.

Outside of Bedard, there are plenty of marquee names like Adam Fantilli from the University of Michigan, Leo Carlsson currently playing in the SHL, Will Smith currently with the U18 NTDP, Matvei Michkov in the KHL, and Zach Benson in the WHL. The Flyers, who have been clamouring for centres, will have plenty of options no matter where they end up within the top-10. Bedard, Fantilli, Carlsson, Smith, Benson, Dalibor Dvorsky, and Oliver Moore – all projected to be within the top-8 – are either full-time centres or hybrid centres/wingers.

There are still 15 games left on the season for the Flyers and anything can happen as we have seen with the Canucks and Coyotes. The Flyers have played hard in the last few weeks, they have created a lot of scoring chances, and have usually hung in with tougher opponents but they are having a horrid time when it comes to finishing off their chances. 50 goals in 24 games is abysmal at best and when you factor in that their “top guns” of Kevin Hayes, James van Riemsdyk, Joel Farabee, Scott Laughton, and Owen Tippett have combined for 10 goals in their last 16 games, you have to wonder if the dam is going to eventually burst and whether or not they get the puck luck to bounce back and win some games down the stretch.

For now, the answer is no, and they’re coming really close over the last few games, but it’s something to keep an eye on as most of the fanbase – if not all – wants the losses to continue.

Flyers fan born in the heart of Leafs nation

More in Analysis