Hextall Pleased with Draft, Surprised at Lack of Trade Market
Another draft weekend has come and gone for Ron Hextall and the Flyers. This one had a little different feeling at the end.
It wasn't so much about the eight new prospects the Flyers added during the draft. The Flyers worked the draft the way they have in every year prior under Hextall. What was different is that as the Flyers process moves forward more and more with each passing year, there is room to be more aggressive in helping the team in the present.
Hextall is looking for ways to do that too, so while selecting prospects has been his comfort zone, he was looking for deals. But this wasn't a typical draft weekend, and deals weren't there to be had.
“The draft didn’t have the typical big deals. I was surprised as anybody," Hextall said. "I thought there were some bigger deals, but that’s the way it goes.
"We tried. I'm sure a lot of other teams tried too. That's the way it is. We're not going to make a bad deal for the sake of making a deal. We're not going to make a bad deal for the sake of trying to make our team better. We're going to do what's best for our organization short and long-term. There was nothing there that made sense for us at this point."
The only major trade of the day came midway through Day 2, with Carolina trading Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin to Calgary for Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and prospect Adam Fox. The only other headlines were Ilya Kovalchuk signing with the Los Angeles Kings and further developments on John Tavares' possible entry into free agency and rumors swirling around a trade between Montreal and San Jose involving Max Pacioretty that ultimately didn't have traction.
The Flyers have been in rumors before this offseason. There were rumors that Wayne Simmonds was on the trading block and the Flyers were also linked to Buffalo forward Ryan O'Reilly as the draft began.
"We'd still like to add to our group on the big team and if we can do it in free agency or via a trade, we'll still look at it," Hextall said. "We'd like to add a top forward, a veteran D if we could. Those are the two positions if you say we have a wishlist, that's our wishlist. Our pieces can move around. It doesn't have to be a center or a winger. It can be a guy who plays both as long as he has adaptability."
Ultimately, Hextall stuck to his philosophy. Teams are built through draft picks and prospects. If there was nothing on the table that was worthy of making such a move, the Flyers were not going to do it. Simple as that.
Hextall is not about doing something rash for the entertainment aspect of it or because a player may help in the here and now. He's not about to get burned by one of his regarded prospects in the future because of a move that helps the team in the short-term.
"That's the way teams are built. Look at the championship teams, that's the way they are built," Hextall said. "I don't feel like I have to explain what we're doing. I think people know what we're doing.
"Would we like to add a big piece? Yeah, we would, but we're not trading one of our top prospects for a guy who's going to play for us for a year or two. You'll look back in two years and go 'what was I thinking?' That's just the way it is. You can't have short-term thinking in my chair. You just can't."
As for the draft class, Hextall noted that the combination of skilled forwards and steady defensemen were to his liking.
“There's a couple of things we would have liked to have gotten, but that's the way the draft goes. You can't get them all. I like the mix that we got," Hextall said. "Three D, four forwards, a goalie -- I like the mix, I like the fits. We got some good players. We got some skill up front. We got some guys in the back that kind of compliment our group with some size and some steady guys. I'm good with our draft."
So another draft is in the books, and judging by Hextall's words following, the week between the draft and free agency may be a period where a lot could happen or very little could happen.
But Hextall sounds like he wants to start moving the process forward to help the Flyers in the here and now as much as in the future. Nothing made sense on draft day to do that. But draft day isn't always where you make the moves for the here and now.
Free agency and the possibility of trades during that week might be the time and place for Hextall to do that. And with the Draft in the rear-view mirror, the next phase of the offseason can take center stage.
Kevin Durso is Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.