Depending who you ask, it’s either a smart and noble strategy, one that’s been successful for a team like the Detroit Red Wings, or it’s like wanting to have your cake and eat it too, and the reason a team like the Detroit Red Wings hasn’t made a deep playoff run in a number of years.
That strategy is, of course, doing everything you can to win now, while simultaneously and patiently developing youngsters for the future.
It’s what Flyers owner Ed Snider wants to do in Philadelphia, as opposed to tearing it down and rebuilding from scratch, a la Buffalo or Edmonton.
Snider told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the plan for the Flyers is to “be extremely patient with all of the young players we have coming.” But at the same time, GM Ron Hextall is “going to do everything in his power to produce a winner as soon as possible, which means it could be trades, it could be coaching, it could be all kinds of things.”
It’s a similar story in Vancouver, where the aging Canucks “want to draft and develop well, but we want our young kids to learn how to play in a winning environment, so they learn the right way to play.”
The obvious challenge for that type of plan is drafting, because teams that are neither great nor terrible don’t get top-5 draft picks, i.e. players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Drew Doughty.
That’s not to say it’s impossible to find elite players in the middle of the first round, or even beyond. Anze Kopitar was taken 11th overall; Patrice Bergeron and Duncan Keith were second-rounders.
But the win now/win later strategy does put added pressure on the scouting staff to unearth a few “big-time” diamonds in the rough, like the Wings once did to the extreme with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Nicklas Lidstrom.
The Flyers have the seventh overall selection in this summer’s draft. They also have Tampa Bay’s first-round pick, wherever that may be.
Related: Hextall insists he’s ‘on the same page’ with Snider