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
14 Darren Rumble
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.
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.
11 Claude Boivin
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.
9 Chris Simon
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
6 Kevin Marshall
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.
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.
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.
2 Patrik Juhlin
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!
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