It was unexpected and certainly not a selection of need, but with the eighth pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in Minnesota on Friday, the Flyers choose the best player available in center Sean Couturier.
And despite the surprise, it was the correct decision.
With Chris Pronger, turning 37 in October, and Kimmo Timonen, 36, hitting the twilight of their careers, it would have made sense for general manager Paul Holmgren to re-stock his team’s defensive cabinet and pull the trigger on 6-foot-4 blueliner Dougie Hamilton or 5-10 defensive waterbug Ryan Murphy. In fact, many experts believed that the two talented rear guards to be the best players available when the Flyers hit the podium to make their selection.
But when Winnipeg reached off the board to grab Mark Scheifele with the seventh pick, suddenly, and to their pleasant surprise, the Flyers had a top-five forward talent in Couturier fall right into their lap. Throw in the fact that when selecting in the top 10, avoiding need and grabbing the best player available is really the only choice, making the decision to steal Couturier was the right one.