February 08, 2017
The 2017 NHL trade deadline is just over three weeks away. And, for the second year in a row, Ron Hextall and the Flyers find themselves in a precarious position as the team tries to balance its chances this season with its development of young talent and continued retooling.
A year ago, the Flyers general manager decided to stand pat. But, thanks to a furious push over the final month of the regular season, the Orange & Black were able to sneak into the postseason, even if only for a handful of games.
Whether or not Hextall follows the same plan this time around remains to be seen. Between now and March 1, the team will continue its efforts to hold on to the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. And if last year is any indication, what happens in the interim won't have a huge impact on Hextall's decision on whether to buy or sell (or neither).
That would be short-sighted. And in just a few short years at the helm, Hextall's already shown he's not that.
Here's a look at what they're saying about the Flyers this week:
Wes Herrmann | TheHockeyWriters.com
The Flyers were able to skate by on a porous defense last season, so some may wonder if acquiring a winger to replace Konecny could put them over the playoff hump. But even then, there isn’t much point to buying at the deadline.
The Flyers are still at the end of a retooling and are nowhere near a championship. Giving up assets for a first-round playoff loss isn’t more valuable than accumulating assets for a contending future and suffering through a postseason-less year.
Tom Gulitti | NHL.com
Biggest trade chip: Gostisbehere, 23, was a Calder Trophy finalist last season but was a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game Monday, and other teams surely have noticed. But even with the depth of defense prospects the Flyers have built up, it's difficult to imagine GM Ron Hextall trading Gostisbehere.
2016 deadline: The Flyers did not make any trades near the deadline last season.
GM's deadline track record: Hextall is in the same position as a season ago when he stood pat at the deadline, and the Flyers were able to get into the playoffs as the second wild card. He seems intent on remaining patient in rebuilding the Flyers rather than trying for a quick fix through a trade.
Sam Carchidi | The Philadelphia Inquirer (via philly.com)
From here, the Flyers should proceed as if the playoffs don't really matter. If this mediocre team gets there, does anyone really see it going beyond the first round?
Play the season for the future - find out about the young kids, including a player or two from the Phantoms - and give them some NHL experience they can use as a building block. And if the team happens to get into the playoffs, consider it a bonus.
Joel Vanderlaan | broadstreetbuzz.com
The Flyers best bargains in the top 6 come in the form of Wayne Simmonds ($69,737) and Travis Konecny ($25,548) both are a producing at team friendly cost per point.
Sean Couturier’s cost per points ($135,417) is the highest in the Philadelphia Flyers top 6 at $135,417 but only slightly higher than captain Claude Giroux ($133,468).
Though “Couts” cost per points is high, Couturier offers much more than points to the organization offering the Flyers a true shutdown center.
Marc Narducci | The Philadelphia Inquirer (via philly.com)
Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere worked on the first power-play unit Wednesday during practice, leading to speculation that his three-game benching may end.
Coach Dave Hakstol would not say whether Gostisbehere would play Thursday against the New York Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center.
“I haven’t made a lineup decision,” Hakstol said. “I will make it tomorrow.”
Tim Panaccio | CSNPhilly.com
Hextall said Ghost, who is having a poor offensive season and has struggled defensively down low, can learn from his third benching this season.
“There's a lot of lessons that young people have to learn,” Hextall said. “We've all gone through it. I've gone through it; you go through it with your kids. We've all got to learn lessons. This is part of the process of young players growing in the pros. That's all it is. ...
“We met with some season ticket holders (Tuesday night) and I think there's a little bit of an overreaction going on right now. These players are young and they sat out. But other guys have sat out too. Matt Read sat out, [Nick Schultz] sat out, other guys have sat out.
“It's not like you're just grabbing kids here and sitting them out. You're putting a lineup out there that you think has the best chance to win that night. That's Hak's job. His job is to win the next game.”
Chris O’Reilly | TheHockeyWriters.com
The mark of a good head coach is the ability to adapt and adjust to whatever an 82-game schedule throws at him. The up-and-down nature of a long season will inevitably present a series of challenges that must be overcome. A coach’s perception of his team’s strengths and weaknesses in October may not be the same in February or March. Moreover, it will likely take a number of different formulas for success in order to run the gauntlet that is the NHL, and coaches must be wary of becoming one-dimensional.
Line combinations and defensive pairings will be tweaked. At times, strategies and philosophies must be amended. Prospects will get called up from the minors in order to see if they are ready for a full-time position on an NHL roster. Sometimes these experiments fail, other times they turn out better than imagined. The most important thing, though, is that a coach makes these adjustments within the context of his team.
The best coaches are able to find the balance between maintaining the identity of their team while also making necessary changes along the way. Some coaches aren’t always so successful, and as a result they can appear to be grasping at straws. The latter seems to be plaguing the Philadelphia Flyers and head coach Dave Hakstol of late. The Flyers don’t seem to have an identity.
Ninf4 (Guest post) | broadstreethockey.com
The Flyers held a Town Hall Meeting for season ticket holders tonight [Tuesday], and well ... most of us at this site are not season ticket holders. But Ninf4 here is, and they very graciously provided this report on the evening's events in the FanPosts. …
Hakstol: Asked why A-Mac is getting top minutes when his Corsi is one of the worst in league ... questioner had specific statistics he cited to back up the question. Hak got all red in the face, and went on several minutes defending A-Mac. Flat out said A-Mac is a top 3 or 4 defensemen in the NHL. Specifically said "you can throw Corsi out the window." Hak seemed to legitimately believe A-Mac is a top defensemen, deserves top minutes. He said last year when he was sent down to AHL, his game was totally different and A-Mac has turned it around and become one of the best on the team. Hak doesn't like it when fans "boo" A-Mac when he makes a mistake on the ice during home games.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin