Philadelphia Flyers

Ron Hextall has options as July approaches

Ahead of free agency, Ron Hextall has options

With less than a month until the NHL draft and the beginning of free agency, there is a lot of uncertainty for Flyers fans. But the uncertainty comes with a likely reward. For the first off-season in his tenure, Flyers GM Ron Hextall has options. What he decides to do with them is still unclear. As fans await the coming draft and free agency, everyone is left to wonder: will something major happen in the next month?

Another draft in Dallas

Just two months after childhood dreams came true at AT&T Stadium for the NFL draft, the NHL draft will be held in the American Airlines Center, home of the Dallas Stars. The Flyers performance this year earned them the 19th overall pick. Last year’s deal to send Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues also acquired them the 14th overall. Having two first-round draft picks means that Hextall has options. This year’s draft class is strong, but to get a player who can make an immediate impact, the Flyers would have to trade up into the top-10.

In order to trade into the top-10 for an elite prospect, the Flyers could do a couple of things. For starters, they could combine both of their first-round picks, as some teams might be willing to go with quantity over quality. But realistically, Hextall would have to sweeten the pot. An obvious target for other teams would be Wayne Simmonds, who is on the brink of a new contract after this upcoming season. The Flyers also have an abundance of backup caliber goaltenders. If Hextall could somehow find a way to deal away Michael Neuvirth or Brian Elliott, that would create a chance for one of the goalie prospects to see more ice time. If another team needed some insurance between the pipes, it’s possible that Hextall could get creative.

Expecting a move

In most instances,  I would not expect Hextall to make any major move. He is a long-term plan type of GM and doesn’t veer off the course. In this draft, I believe it will be different. He could use a trade to not only move up in the draft but also clear up some cap space. With several of the young players about to get a major raise, Ron Hextall will be looking towards the future. Sure, if we draft a player in the top-10, they will be more expensive down the line. But if someone wanted to trade for Neuvirth and his $2.5M cap hit, that move could help in the future.

Flyers fans should prepare themselves to see an impact player be dealt during the draft. It may not happen, but if Hextall thinks it will help the team in the long run, he will pull the trigger.  If the right offer isn’t there, they will stay at 14 and 19. They could absolutely still draft two talented players with those, that could fill needs. I just think that in this instance, moving up to a top ten pick would be in the Flyers best interest.

Addressing free agency

Depending on what happens during the draft, July 1st could be very interesting. The Flyers have a nice chunk of change they are able to go shopping with. I don’t believe Philadelphia will be the landing spot for coveted John Tavares, but you never know. Ron Hextall has options with where to spend money. Paul Stastny could be looking for a new city.  James Van Riemsdyk might want a reunion.  After addressing that Brandon Manning and Johnny Oduya won’t be returning, he has holes to fill. Many people are calling for the buy-out of Jori Lehtera, which is an option as well.

But we all know Hextall is all about building an organization from within. Younger talent could end up filling these empty spots. Hextall has built a prospect pool regarded as one of the best in the league. But with draft bargaining chips, as well as significant salary money to spend, Ron Hextall has options he’s never had as Flyers GM. Flyers fans, prepare yourselves for just about anything.

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Dillon O'Mara

Flyers fan and hockey addict from the suburbs of Philadelphia. Chocolate milk aficionado. Proud Nittany Lion. My downtime is usually spent on two wheels, or reminding the world that the Eagles won Superbowl LII. Feel free to @ me for any hockey related debate. #TrustTheProspects

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