Philadelphia's all-time draft team: Better than bullies - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Philadelphia's all-time draft team: Better than bullies

There wasn't any room for Dave 'The Hammer' Schultz on the Flyers' all-time all-drafted team, but there's still plenty of toughness – plus goals and great goaltending, too.
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USA Today

USA Today

It's a bully Broad Street team, but not a team of bullies. Still, when it comes to the Philadelphia Flyers' all-time all-drafted team, it wouldn't be wise to mess with Bobby Clarke and company.

While there's no Dave Schultz or Dave Brown on this squad, there's still some toughness, especially on defense. And you probably shouldn't bump the goalie or he might take your head off.

Up front, the Flyers' all-time all-drafted team effectively has four first lines. The top unit features Clarke, the forever face of the franchise and the captain of back-to-back Stanley Cup-winning teams in the mid-'70s, between grinding goal-scorer Rick Tocchet and dependable sniper Bill Barber. It might not be a full-on superstar trio, but it's close, and it would be an exceedingly tough line to play against, not to mention plenty capable of piling up points.

The second line would be great in the regular season and even better in the playoffs. Peter Forsberg, who was immediately shipped to Quebec in the Eric Lindros trade after he was drafted, plays between Justin 'Mr. Game 7' Williams and 40-goal threat Brian Propp. They've got clutch offense and solid defense, plus game-winning grit and loads of leadership.

The third line, if you want to call it that, starts with one of the top two-way talents in the game in current captain Claude Giroux. Scott Mellanby brings the lunchbucket on the right side, while left winger Simon Gagne provides goals and combines with Giroux for penalty-killing prowess.

The fourth line, like the first three units, can play in any situation. There's a bit of a 'Legion of Doom' vibe with big, skilled scorer Jeff Carter at center and board man Mikael Renberg on the left side, plus Patrick Sharp offers big-game contributions, defensive diligence and, of course, league-leading handsomeness. It's a good-looking line, is what we're saying.

There isn't a Chris Pronger or Mark Howe on the all-drafted team's blueline, but it's a rock-solid defense corps that can chip in on offense. It's an old-school first pairing with Jimmy Watson repping the '70s and Behn Wilson the '80s. Just a couple of guys who can be counted on when the going gets rough, and they're pretty good at getting the puck up to the forwards, too. The second duo sees smooth-skating Joni Pitkanen with hard-hitting shot-blocker Dmitri Yushkevich. Pitkanen gets some power-play time, Yushkevich kills penalties. There's mobility, offense and in-your-face physicality on the third pair as well, with Janne Niinimaa and Dennis Seidenberg.

In net, it's pretty straightforward. Ron Hextall is the starter, Pelle Lindbergh the backup. Pete Peeters (135th, 1977), Reggie Lemelin (125th, 1974), Roman Cechmanek (171st, 2000) were briefly considered – and Carter Hart (48th, 2016) might enter the conversation in a few years – but for now, Hextall and Lindbergh rank as the two best goalies ever drafted by the Flyers. (Bernie Parent, it should be noted, was signed by Boston prior to the advent of the NHL draft and began his career with the Bruins.)

Here are other players drafted by the Flyers who were also considered. At center: Ken Linseman (seventh, 1978), Mike Ricci (fourth, 1990), Mel Bridgman (first, 1975), Mike Richards (24th, 2003), Sean Couturier (eighth, 2011), Bill Clement (18th, 1970), Dainius Zubrus (15th, 1996), Ron Sutter (fourth, 1982), Peter Zezel (41st, 1983) and Pelle Eklund (161st, 1983). At right wing: Al MacAdam (55th, 1972), Paul Holmgren (108th, 1975), Don Saleski (64th, 1969) and Travis Konecny (24th, 2015). At left wing: Anton Stastny (198th, 1978), Bob Kelly (32nd, 1970), James van Riemsdyk (second, 2007), Vaclav Prospal (71st, 1993), Patrick Maroon (161st, 2077) and Chris Simon (25th, 1990). And, on defense: Tom Bladon (23rd, 1972), Kevin McCarthy (17th, 1977), Chris Therien (47th, 1990), Ivan Provorov (seventh, 2015) and Gord Murphy (189th, 1986).

Here’s a look at Philadelphia's all-time all-drafted team. The 20-player lineup is based on players’ entire NHL body of work.

CENTERS
Bobby Clarke (17th, 1969)
Peter Forsberg (6th, 1991)
Claude Giroux (22nd, 2006)
Jeff Carter (11th, 2003)

RIGHT WINGERS
Rick Tocchet (121st, 1983)
Justin Williams (28th, 2000)
Scott Mellanby (27th, 1984)
Mikael Renberg (40th, 1990)

LEFT WINGERS
Bill Barber (7th, 1972)
Brian Propp (14th, 1979)
Simon Gagne (22nd, 1998)
Patrick Sharp (95th, 2001)

DEFENSEMEN
Jimmy Watson (39th, 1972)
Behn Wilson (6th, 1978)
Dmitri Yushkevich (122nd, 1991)
Joni Pitkanen (4th, 2002)
Janne Niinimaa (36th, 1992)
Dennis Seidenberg (172nd, 2001)

GOALIES
Ron Hextall (119th, 1982)
Pelle Lindbergh (35th, 1979)

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