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February 24, 2015

Hextall can’t let Flyers’ hot streak cloud judgment

Flyers NHL
022415_Coburn_AP Gene J. Puskar/AP

Braydon Coburn could bring the Flyers a nice return at Monday's deadline.

There is less than a week remaining until the NHL’s trade deadline, and Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has a year’s worth of decisions to make between now and next Monday at 3 p.m.

Ironically, the team’s recent run of success will pressure the Flyers first-year general manager -- who was already going to be under the gun at the deadline -- into even tougher decisions. Instead of keeping both eyes on the future, Hextall has to theoretically have at least one eye on the sudden chase for a playoff spot.

But the hope here is that Hextall’s vision for the future is not blurred by the sudden hopes of the playoffs. It will certainly be tempting, especially since the plunging Boston Bruins will be without valuable forward David Krejci for at least a month with a knee injury.

If you rewind to the spring of 2010 you’ll recall that the Flyers overcame both a 3-0 series deficit as well as a 3-0 score in Game 7 to beat the Bruins. How sweet would it be if they once again snapped back at the same team?

This thinking could be problematic for Hextall on two fronts. First, he may want to add a piece or two in order to take a better shot at a playoff push. Sounds reasonable, but the Flyers will have to give to get, and right now, they are not in a position to give up any chips.

The bigger problem, however, is that Hextall may now be tempted to stick with players who may have otherwise been placed on the “sell” side of the equation. For example, the Flyers have a couple of prime trade candidates on defense in Braydon Coburn and Nicklas Grossmann.

For the first time in what seems like forever, the Flyers have a wealth of young defensemen in their development system. Rather than keep Coburn and/or Grossmann, a wiser move would be to move one to a contender – one who might be willing to overpay in the hope of making a deep run into the playoffs.

The same could be said for some forwards, especially Brayden Schenn, and perhaps even Matt Read or Sean Couturier.

It is going to be a tough call for Hextall, but the better call would be to take all calls, and keep his eye on the future – and not a frantic finish with an unrealistic chance of a deep playoff run.