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Parent: Flyers gain future assets, but are haunted by loss of Hart

Since happiness is all relative to your sports club’s financial health, Danny Briere could only register his content with a spoken qualifier at the end of the NHL Draft on Saturday, while keeping mum on the unqualified disaster that played out to a deadline on Sunday.

First the happy part: After getting something of a flashy center with a cool name in No. 13 overall pick Jett Luchanko in the first round of the draft Friday night, Briere was left to explain why he picked a player ranked at least several spots below that lucky 13 number rather than higher ranked center Konsta Helenius of Finland, who went at No. 14 to Buffalo.

What’s more, the Flyers had traded down a spot from No. 12 with the Minnesota Wild, gaining a third-rounder next year by doing that, but also passing on highly regarded defensive prospect Zeev Buium from the University of Denver. Even Briere subsequently said Buium is going to be a “great player.”

But Briere qualified that with his praise of Luchanko’s blooming potential, and explaining that the Flyers already have the likes of Jamie Drysdale and Cam York to fill the model of smallish, mobile young defenders. What they wanted to do with picking future assets in the draft was fortify the middle first, and preferably get a little bigger while doing it.

“The one thing that we wanted to focus on from the start of the draft was to secure our center position better. That’s where (6-foot-4 Swedish center) Jack Berglund and (junior Finn center Heikki) Ruohonen came into play today,” Briere said of the respective second- and fourth-round Flyers picks. “The size was just a nice added plus to them.”

Those players came sandwiched around another prospect projected to play a physical game, defender Spencer Gill. While Briere praised them all, others say those second-day pickups could be project players. Talented ones, perhaps, but …

“We’re happy,” Briere said. “There were actually a couple of guys that dropped and we were trying to move up to get them. It worked in our favor. We were able to get them much later than we had them on our list. So we’re extremely happy but it’s one thing to be happy now, and we’ll see in two, three, four years from now how well it went.”

Yeah, you never know what can happen in the future with talented prospects … one way or another.

It was a matter outside of financial boundaries that moved the Flyers to not make another kind of qualifying move Sunday, this one on one of their best and most heavily invested star players. Say goodbye to goaltender Carter Hart.

As the 5 p.m. deadline to issue a qualifying offer to restricted free agents Sunday came and finally went, it became obvious that Hart, along with New Jersey’s Michael McLeod and Cal Foote, and Calgary’s Dillon Dube, would all be left out in the unqualified cold.

All with expiring contracts, none of them tendered qualifying offers for their team. And all of them — along with former Ottawa Senator Alex Formenton, last playing in Switzerland — still officially on leave of absences from the NHL while awaiting a trial date on sexual assault charges stemming from an incident while they were playing for Canada’s World Junior team in 2018.

The investigation took a number of twists and turns before charges were finally re-filed earlier this year, with a trial date still not forthcoming. All along, the NHL has floated on the periphery to the point of not even offering the players’ teams any consideration when it came to retaining players rights.

Given no special dispensations, of course, the teams aren’t going to keep the players who are public relations nightmares yet have not yet had their cases heard in court.

Briere, like everyone else, found himself in an impossible situation when asked Saturday about Hart, saying only that he was waiting to hear from the league about it when he likely already knew the answer.

Either way, Briere wasn’t shy at the draft in swinging a few deals that should improve the Flyers’ future chances of recovery, even if the story of Carter Hart represents just another unmitigated disaster in Flyers history.

Briere must believe the talk about a deep draft next year because his maneuvers brought the Flyers’ 2025 draft lot up to as many as three first-round selections (one is conditional), plus three more in the second. For now, they stand to have 12 draft picks in total.

Of course, there are a lot of things that can happen in a year, even for a team saying patience is still the major part of the plan.

“We’ve got the chance to upgrade for the draft next year,” Briere said. “The tough part is to be patient … but I think it’s clear that we’re still trying to do it the way we had planned it from the beginning. We’re following that, but sometimes it’s tough. It’s tough to stay patient and I’m glad we did.”.Expect that boring patience plan to extend over the next wild free agency week. While other teams move to improve their veteran depth, the Flyers appear to be content to continue their slow rebuild as the free agency shopping period kicks off Monday.

Said Briere: “It can always change, but I still expect it to be slow for us, even with buying out Cam (Atkinson). We had no choice but to buy out Cam, just to put us in a decent position.”

Although Atkinson’s and Hart’s salaries will no longer be pressuring the payroll limit, Briere said, “We’re not out of the woods with the salary cap.”

Nor have they even begun to escape the fallout from their messy loss of a star player.

Contact Rob Parent at rparent@delcotimes.com


Source: Berkshire mont

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