The 5 Smartest Draft Picks in Philadelphia Flyers History

Dan Fremuth@@hometownphanContributor IIINovember 27, 2013

The 5 Smartest Draft Picks in Philadelphia Flyers History

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    Recent drafts haven't been overly good to the Philadelphia Flyers.

    Only four players—zero defensemen—currently on Philly's roster were originally drafted by the Orange and Black.

    In recent years, the Flyers have had to scramble for talent either via trades or free agency because, for the most part, they haven't been able to develop from within.

    But that hasn't always been the case.

    Throughout the team's 46-year history, Philadelphia has made more than its fair share of savvy draft selections. Here's a look at the five smartest draft picks in Flyers history.

5. Simon Gagne: 1998, Round 1, No. 22

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    Of the 21 players selected ahead of Gagne in the 1998 draft, only the No. 1 overall pick, Vincent Lecavalier, has produced more goals in his NHL career.

    In 13 professional campaigns, Gagne registered 288 career goals, including 264 in a Flyers jersey. What's more, he registered 535 points in 691 career games in Philadelphia.

    In parts of 11 seasons in the City of Brotherly Love, the Quebec native managed seven 20-plus-goal campaigns, including a career-high 47 conversions during the 2005-06 season.

    Named to All-Star teams in both 2001 and 2007, Gagne won the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the Flyers' most valuable player in back-to-back seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

4. Claude Giroux: 2006, Round 1, No. 22

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    The face of the current rendition of the Orange and Black, Giroux is one of just four players chosen in the 2006 draft to have been named to an NHL All-Star game.

    Philadelphia's leading scorer in each of the last three seasons, he's already produced 94 goals and 307 points in just 356 regular-season games in a Flyers sweater. And Giroux's heroics have carried into the postseason as well, where the Hearst, Ontario, native has averaged better than a point per game in the playoffs with 55 points in just 50 postseason outings.

    At just 24 years old, Giroux was named team captain and plays with a combination of skill and grit that's representative of the Flyers greats.

3. Rick Tocchet: 1983, Round 6, No. 121

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    There were 120 total players chosen ahead of Tocchet in the 1983 NHL draft, but few had the overall impact of the 6'0", 215-pound forward.

    In 18 NHL campaigns, the Scarborough, Ontario, native recorded 440 goals and 952 points to go along with 2,972 penalty minutes in 1,144 regular-season outings.

    Tocchet spent parts of 11 seasons in Philadelphia and produced 232 of his career conversions in a Flyers sweater. He managed five 30-plus-goal campaigns in the City of Brotherly Love and registered more than 100 minutes in penalties in eight straight seasons from 1984 to 1992.

    The winner of the Bobby Clarke Trophy in 1990 as the team's most valuable player, Tocchet followed that by being named the team's captain for the 1991-92 campaign.

2. Bobby Clarke, 1969, Round 2, No. 17

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    Only 84 total players were chosen in the 1969 amateur NHL draft, but Clarke proved to be the prize selection.

    Despite slipping into the second round, Clarke went on to compile 358 goals and 1,210 points in 1,144 career games. The Flin Flon, Manitoba, native spent his entire NHL career in the City of Brotherly Love and helped to produce back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975.

    Only six players from the 1969 draft were ever named to an All-Star Game, with Clarke garnering eight All-Star nods throughout his 15-year NHL career. What's more, he claimed the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's MVP three times in a four-year window from 1973-1976.

    Arguably the most recognizable Flyers skater in Philadelphia's 46-year history, Clarke proved to be a far greater value in the second round than Philly's first-round grab that year in Bob Currier, who never played a single game for the Orange and Black.

1. Ron Hextall, 1982, Round 6, No. 119

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    Philadelphia hasn't had a consistent goaltending presence since Hextall.

    Despite falling into the sixth round, the 6'3", 205-pound netminder went on to be a mainstay between the pipes in Philadelphia, accumulating 240 victories over parts of 11 seasons with the Flyers.

    Hextall registered five 30-plus-win seasons with the Orange and Black and added another 45 postseason triumphs while in Philadelphia.

    The 1987 Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Hextall holds the Flyers' records for most career games played by a goaltender, most career wins and most career postseason victories.

    Philadelphia has drafted 35 goaltenders since the team plucked Hextall in the sixth round in 1982 and not one has even come close to matching his production in net.