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October 12, 2015

Five Flyers questions with ESPN prospects analyst Corey Pronman

Flyers NHL

Over at ESPN Insider, Corey Pronman is one the very best writers on the Internet on the subject of hockey prospects. He was nice enough to answer a few of my questions about the Flyers’ system via email. Here is what he had to say:

1.  You were high on a couple of skilled, smallish forwards the Flyers selected: Travis Konecny (#7 ESPN, drafted 24th) and David Kase (#30 ESPN, drafted 128th). It seemed like they showed more from a scouting perspective than their point production would indicate. What factors do you think contributed to the two players “falling” from where you had them ranked?

Corey Pronman: Size on both and production didn't help either's case. Konecny also has a lot of scouts worried that he's going to play his way onto the IR more than once.  My board is also not a mock draft although I did think Konecny would go around 15, so he did slip farther than I imagined. Same with Kase, who I figured would go 2nd or 3rd round.

2. Konecny was very impressive in the preseason but it feels like he never really had a shot to make the team. The same goes for all of the young defensemen. What do you make of Ron Hextall’s conservative approach with the team’s top prospects?

CP: The team is in a long rebuild, in part due to their cap disaster. No need to rush any of the U20s, who would have to burn an ELC (entry-level contract) year. Hagg and Morin will also delay a year until UFA if they wait until after the new year to call them up (think Gost is too old for that to apply to him). Necessary evils in what will be a lengthy process.

3. On the subject of Hextall, the Flyers vaulted up your system rankings from 25th last year to 10th this season. I think many people in Philly are surprised Ed Snider is allowing him to run the franchise with such a patient approach, a bit of a change around here. Is it too simplistic to say that the Flyers are benefiting from Hextall going to Los Angeles and gaining an outside perspective?

CP: They also have no choice. You can't bury mistakes anymore. They have no cap space to try and hide behind MacDonald, Schenn and Vinny. Overall though, I do think Hextall is a departure from the past regimes, for the better. He's a sharp cookie.

4. Oskar Lindblom is a player who we aren’t as familiar with here because he plays in Sweden. He obviously had a great World Championships. I saw a quote from Hextall saying Lindblom’s skating (which reportedly still isn’t a strength) has come a long way in the past year. Is that something you noticed as well?

CP: Yep. Overall, he’s been very impressive the last two years. He's playing top line minutes for Brynas right now, and could put up big numbers over the season. Big, skilled, and plays hard in both ends. Lot to like there.

5. Flyers fans would like to know that the Rangers and Penguins are ranked 29th and 30th in your system rankings, respectively. It feels like they are both very much in win-now mode. The Flyers have little chance of hanging with their rivals in 2015-16, but is it safe to say they are better positioned for 2-3 years down the road? Maybe not? 

CP: Well, everything in a hard cap world is cyclical, unless you don't spend (NYI, COL), strike out constantly on top picks (FLA, CBJ) or keep finding gems outside the top 15 (CHI, DET). Smart money is on Philly being a better team than the Rangers in 2020. Pittsburgh is tougher to say since they have two elite talents who could age well. 

Again, thanks a lot to Corey for putting up with my dumb questions. I highly recommend reading his work, especially because young hockey players typically don’t receive the type of attention that we see in the other sports. Still, just like we’re currently seeing with Hextall’s patient approach, it’s both an important and fascinating process from draft day up to when a prospect is on the big club for good.

Twitter: @coreypronman

ESPN Insider, NHL

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann