Ron Hextall spoke with the media on Saturday night after the 2015 NHL draft lottery -- in which Connor McDavid was the big loser -- and talked about what his plans are with the No. 7 overall pick.
Will he take a forward to help balance out the organizational depth? The Flyers are pretty heavy on strong prospects on defense these days but the forward outlook is a little more dim -- at least on the wings.
"I think we have more forwards coming than people think" Hextall said, "but just the same, I agree with you guys that we're heavier on defense than we are up front. I think our weakest position on our depth chart is probably in net, so we've got to keep that in mind too. In saying that, at seven, there's a lot of forwards this year. So there's certainly a good chance we'll take a forward."
Note that he's not saying the plan is to take a forward just because -- but that because the draft is heavy with a lot of forward talent, so odds are that the best option available at No. 7 will be a forward. Hextall isn't saying that they won't draft a defenseman if the right guy is available.
If there's a defenseman on the board and a forward and we have them really close, we would probably lean towards the forward. But until the names fall really, you don't really know. We'll have our list and we'll be prepared, and we'll make a decision at that point. When you look at our prospects we're a little bit heaver on defense than we are up front.
Here's some more of what Hextall had to say about the draft:
Q: Out of the top dozen [prospects], would you say there are people who can play right away?
Hextall: Yeah, there's a good number this year that if they're not ready to play, they're going to be close. I hate to say, but there's certainly more than one or two.
Generally speaking, if there's one area that's a bigger concern heading into a draft, would it be size or skating?
There's a lot of things you judge in a player. Obviously skating is one and size is another, but there's a lot of things -- intangibles, obviously, and hockey sense. There's a lot of things. You can't just say size or skating. They're both a big part of the game today, especially if you're watching the playoffs, but there's so much more to judge a player on.
On possibly moving up in the draft:
It's probably a little bit too early at this point. We've got our meetings coming up, and once we get through those meetings, that'll tell a little bit more of whether it would be worth it. You kind of try to put two faces on two picks and you put those two faces against the one and you make that decision assuming the other team is willing to do something. We'll always look at moving up and moving back every year. Whether it's possible or not, who knows.
Is the No. 7 pick this year -- because this draft is deep -- better than other years?
Oh absolutely. There's no question. Our guys have a lot of experience and they're saying it, and everybody in the hockey world is saying it. I think I've seen most of the top 12 players out there. There's a lot of good players in this draft. There really is. It's going to be one of those that when we look back in a few years, there's going to be a lot of really good players coming out of the first round.
With the overall depth of the draft, was it important to pick up extra assets this year?
It was important. One of my goals going into actually last year in the offseason but one of the goals I had was to fill the rounds we didn't have picks in. I think we didn't have a second or a third, and we were able to do that plus something. We're happy where we're at. We did want picks.
Getting the first I think this year when you start to see the players that are out there became a priority for us, and we were fortunate enough to find someone who was willing... obviously we gave up a pretty darn good player too (Braydon Coburn), but that's the way it goes, that's where we're at, and that's where Tampa was at. We're happy with the number of picks we have, certainly.
Are you against drafting a guy who would have a chance to play right away out of Europe or something?
No. We've talked about that in recent years and the way it is right now, you get players or free agents when they're 27 years old. The sooner they're ready to play, it can be a positive. It comes into the equation, but there's a lot of things in the equation -- OK this player could play right away but his upside is here, whereas this player is going to take more time but his upside is here.
You can't really define it. It's more of a feel than anything else. You make your decision on a lot of little factors, and certainly that's a tough one -- ready now vs. ready in two or three years. If the upside is a decent amount higher than the guy who's ready in two or three years you tend to look that way, but if the upside is close, you probably look at it the other way.