Crucial Summer for Hextall, Flyers
The 2016-17 season ended with something that is becoming all too familiar to Flyers fans – no playoffs.
Fans’ frustration is understandable and fair.
It’s been six seasons since the Flyers won a playoffs series; eight seasons since that 2010 Stanley Cup Finals run.
While the Flyers have finally embraced a rebuild, coach Dave Hakstol may have created unrealistic expectations this season by getting his young team to the playoffs last season, losing to the Washington Capitals in a tough six game series.
While making the playoffs last year may have been an overachievement, missing the playoffs this season is a moderate underachievement. The point is this – even if the Flyers did make the playoffs, they simply would have been eliminated in quick fashion again by the Caps.
While it would have lined the pockets of ownership, it would have left the same disappointing taste in your mouth that you currently have about this season.
With rookies Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, playing prominent roles this season, alongside young players Shayne Gostisbehere, Nick Cousins, Brandon Manning, and Jordan Weal, it was foolish to imagine this as a playoff team, even with veterans Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds, who may have played his best NHL season, having plenty of playoff experience.
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The Flyers needed time for their youth to grow, they’ll need time for next season’s crop of Sam Morin, Robert Hagg, Travis Sanheim, Oskar Lindblom and Scott Laughton to grow, and they need to continue to stockpile a farm system with the picks obtained due to missing the playoffs.
But that is what makes this offseason a little different.
Philadelphia has the ability to finally fill holes with young player from within the system, instead of throwing money outside at pricey veterans to fill holes.
Under the leadership of Ron Hextall, the Flyers have been stockpiling prospects and assets, essentially pushing their future down the road. But if the team is committed to winning, now might be the time for Hextall to make a strong move.
This is a crucial summer for the Flyers. The roster has very important holes. The Flyers still don’t have a top left winger to play alongside Giroux and they still don’t have a No. 1 goalie.
They need to find both.
Look for Montreal Canadiens left winger Dwight King, who played in Los Angeles with the Kings Stanley Cup teams, and goalie Ben Bishop’s name to be linked to Philadelphia.
King is the kind of player who can grind out 12-15 goals, but it’s his size (6-foot-4, 230) that the Flyers would desire. Bishop is a 6-foot-7 goalie, who is splitting time in LA with Jonathan Quick.
Maybe now is the time to move Giroux, but he sounds hell-bent on staying in Philadelphia, with his no-movement clause. But there may be other options available in the trade routes, if Hextall is finally willing to move one or two of his young defenders.
Whatever the solutions, another year of being patient isn’t acceptable, not in Philadelphia, where Flyers fans are yearning for that elusive third Stanley Cup. It’s time for legitimate progress. It’s time to remind Flyers fans what playoff hockey looks and feels like.