Flyers GM Ron Hextall spoke to the media today ahead of next weeks NHL Draft, talking mostly about the draft but covering some of what the team plans on doing in free agency in addition to some injury updates among other things.
Hextall, who owns two first round picks (No. 14 and No. 19), opened by saying that he anticipates making both of those selections at this time but also left open the possibility of moving up or down the draft board if the right deal came along. As has been the case since Hextall took over as general manger, he placed a ton of emphasis on how important every draft pick is — even those two seventh rounders he has this year.
While Hextall wasn’t tipping his hand there, he did mention specifically that he liked the centers in this draft and was on the lookout for defensemen. Hextall also went out of his way to mention how the Flyers want and need skill on the back end, while adding that he’d be “shocked” if the team didn’t select at least a couple defensemen in this draft.
That said, there were interesting tidbits. The acknowledgement that RHD is a stylistic need. The reiteration that they're looking more for shorter-term UFA options than players who will require lots of years. These are important things to hear and to remember.— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) June 14, 2018
As far as free agency, Hextall again didn’t rule out the possibility of veteran center Valtteri Filppula returning. That’s not really a change from his stance during the season and after the Penguins series ended. Filppula will go to free agency on July 1, and will have to take a pay cut down from the $5 million he made this season to mitigate any type of return.
Wayne Simmonds is under contract for another season, but Hextall said he plans to talk to Simmonds’ agent around when free agency opens on July 1. Simmonds, 29, is entering the final year of the six-year, $23.8 million deal he signed with the club back in 2012 that has proved to be a heck of a value for the Flyers over the last few years. Given Simmonds’ track record of production, health, and his value in the locker room, the Flyers would no doubt love to extend the power forward at some point.
For those clamoring for the Flyers to make a push for John Tavares (myself included), Hextall noted that he’d like to sign shorter-term free agents as opposed to the long-term deals you typically see early in free agency. That would lead you to believe that the Flyers won’t be in the potential Tavares sweepstakes, but who really knows as Hextall was as tight lipped as ever.
On the injury front, Hextall said that Brian Elliott had a minor procedure after the season but will be ready for camp. As for Sam Morin, who was injured in the Phantoms’ Calder Cup playoff run, he’s progressing well according to Hextall but likely won’t be ready to play until February. Those were the only surgery notes, as both Sean Couturier and Ivan Provorov have recovered from their injuries suffered in the playoffs without requiring surgery.
The 2018 NHL Draft will be held June 22-23 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Flyers are slated to have nine picks, with six picks coming in the first five rounds.