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WHAT YOU DIDN'T SEE ON FLIGHT PLAN

Pronger's involvement; draft preparation logistics; Flyers draft history
Saturday, 08.10.2013 / 10:38 AM
By Anthony SanFilippo - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter / Flyers Inside Out
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WHAT YOU DIDN\'T SEE ON FLIGHT PLAN

So, Flight Plan has lived on the web site for five days now, and thousands of Flyers fans have tuned in.

For the most part, the responses on social media have been positive, and that’s a good thing.

But, that doesn’t mean that what was presented has not garnered some sort of criticism along the way.

Some of them were valid. Others, were not. That’s O.K. It’s how the world works after all.

That said, I figured I’d use this time to address a few of these discussion points that may have been mistaken or misleading and tell you some of the things that you did not see on Flight Plan.

First let’s address Chris Pronger.

Chris Pronger, here working with Flyers assitant coach Kevin McCarthy (left) and defenseman Luke Schenn, was more integral to the scouting of defenseman than it appeared in the first episode of Flight Plan.

Yes, Pronger was part of the scouting meetings – and he wasn’t flown in just to show his bearded mug on in the episode.

No, Pronger actually was helping the Flyers scout some young defensemen last season. He travelled some to check out many of the guys the Flyers were considering in the first round.

He was one of those “secondary scouts” Mark Greig was talking about in Flight Plan.

Pronger also contributed to the meeting talking about the defensemen he saw play, as well as a philosophical approach to drafting defensemen.

So, why didn’t he chime in on Morin?

Well, he didn’t see him play in person!

Pronger said he went to see all of the other first round defensemen except Morin – and the reason he didn’t see Morin was because it never really fit into his schedule.

Therefore, the reason he seemed silent in the episode was we focused the video more on the Morin discussion, and Pronger wasn’t a big part of that.

Oh… and he had a pair of shoes. His sneakers were against the wall.

Secondly, let’s talk about the logistics of the room.

What I mean by that is how the whole process was set up.

Some critics questioned why the Flyers were using a giant scratch pad and magic markers to put together the draft board and not a spreadsheet, computers or an overhead projector.

First thing’s first. There is a complex computer program that all scouts and execs have that has the team’s entire draft board loaded in and can be changed manually by anyone with editing access.

In that program, each player can be clicked on and all the pertinent details about the player are available, including ratings put together by the scouting staff.

The notion that the magic marker process and crossing names off and using only the belief that a player hits hard to determine where he belongs is way off base.

Again, those are the moments we chose to show in the episode – but there are far more detailed scouting reports on every player – including Morin – than just the fact that he’s big and he hits and fights.

This leads to the next concern….

A few tweets wondered how the Flyers can be so uncertain about their order two days before the draft.

It should be noted that this was the final meeting of many meetings between Holmgren, Pryor and the scouting staff.

It took several weeks to populate that list and put them in an order that made sense. Once that order is determined, the Flyers identified the players they’d like to take in each round based on where they think players will fall.

Of course, that can ultimately be changed at the table on draft day, but it should be noted that of the six draft picks they took, the Flyers had four of them pegged in advance.

One little thing you should look at on Flight Plan is there is a little red dot next to Morin’s name on the board.

That red dot indicates that it’s the primary target player the Flyers are looking at in a given round.

Whether the Flyers changed that list or not, Morin was always the target. Other players to have that dot next to their name (although you can’t see it because we had to blur it out) were Tyrell Goulbourne, Terrance Amorosa and Merrick Madsen.

Robert Hagg was not targeted as a second round possibility for the Flyers. The reason? They had him going in the first round (I won’t tell you the number, but he’s in the second row on that first page of the draft board).

Robert Hagg (right), may not have been the Flyers intended second round target, but once he fell that far, the team couldn't pass him up. Here he chats with 2012 draft pick Shayne Gostisbehere (left) and 2013 first rounder Sam Morin. The Flyers hope that this is their defensive core in about five years.

They felt like they were going to get someone else that they had marked on page two, but when Hagg fell, the Flyers jumped at it.

As a matter of fact, I can tell you that Holmgren called chief European scout Ilkka Sinisalo over just before that pick to discuss it to make sure they weren’t off base with their projection of Hagg before making the pick.

So, regardless of Morin being rated sixth, seventh or eighth, he was identified much earlier than the day we filmed in the war room, as the defenseman the Flyers wanted. The only way they weren’t taking him is if a surprise happened in the draft, or Holmgren traded the pick. Neither happened, and the Flyers got their man.

The last issue I wanted to address was the philosophy and the belief that Paul Holmgren et al do not draft well.

When I have time tonight, I’m going to post a spreadsheet that I spent three days working on (so look for that next blog post).

In it, you will see that since Paul Holmgren took over as general manager of the Flyers, they are among the best at finding NHL-caliber players in the draft.

Not including the 2013 draft, since Holmgren took over as general manger, only three teams have had a better success rate at getting draft picks to the NHL than the Flyers, who have had exactly one-third of their draft picks since 2007 reach the NHL.

The only teams with a better success rate are Minnesota (41.7 percent), the New York Islanders (39.1 percent) and Ottawa (34.2 percent). They also rank above the league average in total number of NHL games played by players drafted between 2007-12.

And, they accomplished those stats while being tied for the fewest draft picks in that time period.

But more on that later. For now, it’s back to editing Flight Plan Episode 2…

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To contact Anthony SanFilippo email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37

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