Hextall on Draft: ‘I Anticipate Right Now Making Our Picks’
The Flyers will finalize draft plans over the next week with the NHL Draft set to take place a week from Friday.
The Flyers are in rare company in this year’s draft, holding the 14th and 19th overall picks. That leaves them room to be flexible on draft night.
With that in mind, don’t expect Ron Hextall and the Flyers to be transparent in their plans. In his pre-draft media availability on Thursday, Hextall did say that right now, the plan is to keep and use both picks.
“I anticipate right now making our picks,” Hextall said. ”Certainly, we would move up if a great deal was there. We’d look at moving back if the right deal was there too. It’s really hard to project or predict.
“I think there’s a point in this draft where a certain pick may not be different than one 20 picks back. It’s probably a fairly typical draft. Everyone views things different and certainly there’s guys that we like.”
There is certainly a lot to be made of the Flyers options. Hextall has build this team up through the draft, so having two picks in the Top 20 is not something he will take lightly, and if the opportunity is there to add two solid prospects to the pipeline, chances are he will do it.
With the 14th overall pick, you could certainly make the case the Flyers need to utilize the pick for what it is. If there’s a way to make a deal to move higher, you certainly entertain it. If not, it’s a pick that you did not have previously until draft night a year ago -- acquired from St. Louis in the Brayden Schenn trade.
It’s the 19th pick that makes you start to explore the trade down option. The Flyers had the 18th overall pick two years ago and traded down to the 22nd pick to select German Rubtsov, acquiring the 36th overall pick in the 2016 Draft as well while sending a third-round pick to Winnipeg.
Hextall loves stockpiling picks, so a trade down from 19 to a late first-round option in the 24-28 range, while adding an additional mid-round pick, is certainly a possibility.
That said, the prospects Hextall has added in previous years allows for more flexibility in making a deal this year.
“If our prospect pool depth was shallow I’m sure we’d make all our picks,” Hextall said. “The way it is right now, I don’t know what’s gonna come along, but we would listen to those ideas.”
In particular, the Flyers have loaded up on defensemen, centers and goalies. In recent years, they have also added more wingers. Hextall’s focus in the draft, especially in the first round, is typically the best player available, regardless of position. Hextall’s decision-making in the draft certainly factors in organizational need, but of greater importance is finding a player who has potential to be an NHL player one day.
“You always feel like you can take a little bit more of a risk but a lot of times risk means maybe bad character or poor work ethic -- the things that we don’t really want,” Hextall said. “We want the best player, but we want the best player that we think is going to come close to hitting his ceiling. The ‘safe’ pick, I don’t like that word. We need to project. That’s what we all get paid to do, project how good a guy’s going to be. So a ‘safe’ pick to me, I don’t like that word. What’s he gonna be? Where’s he gonna fit in in the National Hockey League? We need to know that.”
In just over a week, we’ll know what direction Hextall and the Flyers go in the draft and the two names who will be part of the Flyers future.