The Philadelphia Flyers haven't been the most successful team in NHL history by any stretch of the imagination. They have however been consistently one of the better teams in the NHL with long stretches of failure few and far between. The Flyers entered the NHL in 1967 selecting Bernie Parent in round one of the expansion draft.
Since 1967, The Flyers have won two Stanley Cups, eight Conference championships and 16 Divisional championships (the last coming in 2010-11). The Flyers have made many great draft picks over the years that had a lot of success as members of the flyers like Bobby Clarke in 1969, Rick Tocchet in 1983, Ron Hextall in 1982 and Claude Giroux most recently in 2006. On the flip side they have a few players they drafted that went on to have huge success...with other teams. Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and of course Peter Forsberg being the biggest examples.
The Flyers have always been a team that struggled in net since Ron Hextall left for good in 1999. A total of 20 goalies have started at least one game for the Flyers. When you look back at the draft picks of the Flyers, elite goalies are sprinkled all throughout that they missed out on.
Not every mistake is a huge one. Not every mistake is a huge one. I ranked the mistakes not only based on the ranking of the player the Flyers drafted but also by the quality of player that the Flyers missed out on. You will see some good players like Mike Ricci all the way down to guys who never played a game in the NHL and everything in between.
So get ready as we dive into the land of hindsight and look back on the 15 biggest draft mistakes in Philadelphia Flyers history.
15 Kerry Huffman
Kerry Huffman was selected 20th overall by the Flyers back in 1986. He like Ricci was also included in the big Eric Lindros trade in 1992. Huffman was an okay defenseman playing 401 games in his career totaling 145 points and 361 penalty minutes. Selected just 2 picks later was New York Rangers great Adam Graves (although drafted by the Red Wings) Graves ended his career with 616 points in 1,152 career games and 2 Stanley Cup wins. The Flyers may still have traded Graves in the Lindros deal but we will never know.
14 Darren Rumble
Darren Rumble was drafted 20th overall in 1987. Darren had an unspectacular career playing for five different teams (including 2 stints with the Flyers) in 18 career games with the Flyers(between 1990-1991 and 1996-1997) Rumble had 1 goal and 4 PIM. Even though they ended up as Flyers anyway the team would have been much better suited drafting either John Leclair or Eric Desjardins in 1987. Both players ended up being impact players for the Flyers for years but imagine if they had either of them from the beginning.
13 Luca Sbisa
Luca Sbisa is the youngest player on the list, having just been drafted 19th overall in 2008. Sbisa was thought to be one of the best prospects in the system. Sbisa played one season with the Flyers before being traded to the Ducks in the Chris Pronger deal. Sbisa is still in the NHL currently playing for the Vancouver Canucks. Sbisa was dealt to bring in an elite defenseman with Stanley Cup winning pedigree so you can't blame the Flyers for moving Sbisa.
The Flyers could have instead drafted Jordan Eberle, Roman Josi, or John Carlson. Josi and Carlson have both blossomed into being much better defensemen now than Sbisa is.
12 Ron Sutter
Ron Sutter was a promising player coming out of Junior hockey. He was drafted 4th overall in 1982. Although the eventual Flyers captain had a decent NHL career, even enjoying some 20-plus goal seasons in Philly, there were just two goldmines drafted right behind him. While he went 4th, the players to go 5th and 6th overall were Scott Stevens and Phil Housley. Just imagine Stevens terrorizing forwards as part of the Flyers' blueline (that hit on Lindros would have never happened) or Housley becoming the elite playmaker on the backend every team looks for.
Even in round 3, the Flyers missed out on Kevin Dineen (760 career points with 2,229 PIM). That sure sounds like a prototypical member of the Flyers to me!
11 Claude Boivin
Claude Boivin was selected 14th overall in the 1988 NHL draft. Boivin did not have a very long career in the NHL(he was out of the league in 1994) He played 132 games in the NHL scoring 31 points and racking up 364 penalty minutes. The Flyers picked Boivin over a trio of players who really personify the "Broad Street Bullies" style. Tie Domi went in round 2 and Mark Recchi (who went on to achieve some success with the Flyers) and Rob Blake went in round 4.
10 Maxime Ouellet
The Flyers had the right idea in 1999, knowing they desperately needed a new goalie with Ron Hextall retiring and John Vanbiesbrouck getting up there in age. Maxime Ouellet was not the franchise goalie that the Flyers expected when they drafted him 22nd overall in 1999. He would only play parts of two games with the Flyers before he was packaged with three draft picks and sent to the Washington Capitals for Adam Oates. His career didn't take off with the Capitals and he was then sent to the Canucks. He would bounce between the ECHL and AHL for the majority of his career. Not exactly what you expect with a first round pick.
If the Flyers were hell-bent on getting a goalie they would have been better off drafting Craig Anderson (drafted 77th overall in 1999). He has 212 career wins in 465 games.
9 Chris Simon
Chris Simon was yet another player that would go to Quebec in the Eric Lindros trade. Simon was drafted 25th overall in 1990. Simon would have a few decent seasons in the NHL, but would never contribute anything to Philly other than being a trading chip for Lindros. Players that went just a few picks after Simon include Doug Weight, Geoff Sanderson. There was Sergei Zubov who went in the fifth, but to be fair, everybody else passed on him too.
8 Mike Ricci
Mike Ricci was selected 4th overall in the 1990 NHL Draft. Ricci would only last two seasons in Philly before being moved to Quebec in the blockbuster deal to acquire Eric Lindros. Ricci won a Stanley cup as a member of the Colorado Avalanche and established himself as a solid NHL player in his career playing 1094 career games with 605 points scored in that time. The Flyers could have had Jaromir Jagr (5th overall) or one of the greatest goalies of all time Martin Brodeur (20th overall) All those goalie problems of the late 90s- early 2010s would have been solved here.
7 Joni Pitkanen
Joni Pitkanen was taken fourth overall by the Flyers back in 2002. When you take a player that high, you're probably hoping for a guy who can be a top pairing defenceman for you for a long time. Pitkanen had some decent years, but would end up trading him to Edmonton when they realized he wouldn't live up to his billing as a top five pick. Other options besides Pitkanen included Cam Ward (could have helped the Flyers goaltending woes) and a certain stud who went in the second round called Duncan Keith.
6 Kevin Marshall
Kevin Marshall was selected 41st overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft. Kevin would spend almost 3 seasons in the AHL before making his debut with the Flyers in 2011 playing 10 games scoring no points and getting 8 PIM. The Flyers cut their losses in 2012 trading Marshall to the Washington Capitals for Matt Ford (8th round pick in 2004) Getting only an 8th round pick for your 2nd rounder has got to hurt. What hurts more is the fact that P.K. Subban was drafted just two picks later and future Flyers player Wayne Simmonds also went in this draft 61st overall to the Kings. They could have had him for nothing.
5 Greg Smyth
The Flyers picked Greg Smyth 22nd overall at the 1984 entry draft. Smyth carved a decent career for himself lasting in the NHL until he played his last two games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1996-97 NHL season. Greg Smyth became known primarily as an enforcer. He played 228 games in his career with 4 goals and 16 assists to show for it. He did however rack up 783 PIM so it is clear he was doing something on the ice. Scott Mellanby(1,431 GP, 840 Pts, 2479 PIM) was selected 5 picks later.
The one that really hurts however is one of the greatest goalies of all time Patrick Roy was selected 51st. They had Hextall at the time but I think everyone would rather have Roy!
4 Glen Seabrooke
It isn't necessarily Glen's fault that he is a draft bust, as his career ended at the age of 21 due to injury. Glen Seabrooke was drafted 21st overall in 1985. He had an okay start, scoring 6 points in 10 games in 1986-1987 but he was sent down to the AHL where he would suffer a serious shoulder injury. Surgery was attempted but it was unsuccessful and his career was over. Glen Seabrooke sued the team saying the doctors rushed his rehab causing permanent damage and he was awarded $5.5 million in 1995.
Despite the promising start and tragic end to his career the Flyers would have been better suited picking either Mick Richter (28th overall) or Joe Nieuwendyk (27th overall) who are both members of the Hockey Hall Of Fame.
3 Larry Wright
The oldest entry on this list, the Flyers selected Larry Wright 8th overall all the way back in 1971. Larry Wright definitely fits the definition of a draft bust. He only played 40 games with the Flyers from 1971-72 until 1975-76 scoring 1 goal, 2 assists in 40 games over that time. He played 66 games with the Red Wings in 1977-78 before leaving the NHL after that season.
The Flyers really missed out here as Hockey Hall Of Famer Terry O'Reilly went 14th overall and fellow HHOF member Larry Robinson was drafted 20th overall. Can you imagine either of them in Flyers orange and black instead of spending most of their careers with the Bruins (O'Reilly) and Canadiens (Robinson).
2 Patrik Juhlin
Patrick Juhlin was drafted 34th overall in the 1989 NHL Draft. Patrick was a complete bust at the NHL level playing only 56 career games scoring 13 points total. Patrick Juhlin had his 15 minutes of fame however at the 1994 Olympics he led Team Sweden in scoring on their way to winning Olympic Gold. The Flyers missed out on a trifecta of players who would go on to win multiple Stanley Cups as teammates on the Detroit Red Wings with Nicklas Lidstrom (53rd), Kris Draper (62nd), and Sergei Fedorov (72nd) all being selected in later rounds.
1 Steve Smith
Steve Smith was selected in the first round, 16th overall in 1981. Smith was a highly touted prospect heading into the NHL but he was never able to put it together at the highest level. In five seasons with the Flyers he played a whopping 15 games with one assist and 15 PIM. He was out of the NHL after a three game stint with the Buffalo Sabres in 1988-1989. He spent three years in the AHL before moving on to Europe.
Instead of picking Smith the Flyers could have had Hockey Hall Of Famer Chris Chelios who was selected 41st overall. Chelios played 1,651 games in the NHL with 948 points and 2,891 PIM, Just a bit better than Steve Smith eh? The scouts of the Flyers from the 80s should have been fired as Smith was the 8th player drafted in the 80s to make this list!