Hextall: No major changes expected

Posted: May 19, 2014

Paul Holmgren was an aggressive, feisty player, and he took those characteristics into the Flyers front office, where he wasn't afraid to roll the dice on moves that shook the hockey world.

Ron Hextall, who recently replaced Holmgren as the Flyers general manager, was also a combative player, one who holds the all-time NHL record for career penalty minutes (584) by a goalie. But don't expect him to strike with the boldness that marked Holmgren's tenure, one that included the trades of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards and the signing of restricted free-agent Shea Weber to an offer sheet.

"I think it's unrelated," Hextall said when asked if being an aggressive player would carry into his front-office style. "I think in some walks of life it can translate. But with me, I don't think like that. I guess because when you're on the ice, you're reacting, and when you're sitting behind a desk, you're methodical in your thinking. I just think it's a different mind-set."

The wild, brawling goalie who liked to take chances on the ice will be less reactionary as a GM.

"I'm a patient guy, and I wasn't very patient on the ice," Hextall said. "Sometimes you just have to wait for things to come to fruition. On the other hand, there are times you have to look out there for something to make your team better, but I think for the most part I'll be patient in this job."

Hextall is preparing for the June 27-28 draft, which will be held at the Wells Fargo Center, and for the July 1 free-agency frenzy.

On the back burner: finding an assistant GM to fill his old spot. "I will eventually hire someone, but it is down on my priority list," he said. "If it doesn't happen this year, I'm fine with that."

The Flyers overcame a 1-7 start and finished with a 42-30-10 record before being eliminated by the New York Rangers, four games to three, in the opening round of the playoffs.

Do not expect major changes, Hextall said.

"I don't anticipate anything real big," he said. ". . . I like our team, like our youth up front. I like a lot of things. In saying that, there are a few things we have to take a peek at. But I'm not expecting anything earth-shattering right now."

Asked if he wanted to get a more productive left wing for Claude Giroux's line, Hextall said: "If there's something out there, we'd look at it, but I think it's more left wing in general" where the Flyers need help. "Our right side is real strong, our middle is real strong. The left side is probably our weak spot, so if we can add a left winger, yeah, we'd love to do that."

Many left wingers are about to become unrestricted free agents, and Winnipeg's Evander Kane is among the quality left wingers who might be traded.

"Again, it's easier said than done, and if we have to go into the season with what we've got, we'll do that," Hextall said, unconvincingly.

Hextall said the Flyers have not made an offer to defenseman Kimmo Timonen, 39, but they have had talks with the prospective free agent about whether he wants to return.

"My hunch is it will be an ongoing process with Kimmo for the next few weeks or month, for him to see where his body is at and where he's at, mentally," Hextall said.

Righthanded-shooting Matt Niskanen, 27, who had 10 goals, 46 points, and a plus-33 rating for Pittsburgh this season, heads the list of free-agent defensemen. But the Flyers will have difficulty finding room for Niskanen to fit under their cap because he will get a huge raise from the $2.5 million ($2.3 million cap hit) he earned this season.

So it's possible Timonen comes back for a cheaper price and is a stop-gap before promising young defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, and Sam Morin are NHL-ready.

As for the draft, Hextall said the Flyers will "take the best player available," regardless of position.


A Winner at Winger?

The Flyers are searching for a left winger. Here are some of the unrestricted free-agent left wingers and their statistics from this season:

      2013-14         

Player   Age   cap hit   Goals   Pts.   

Thomas Vanek   30   $7.1 M   27   68   

Jussi Jokinen   31   $3 M   21   57   

Matt Moulson   30   $3.1 M   23   51   

Mason Raymond   28   $1 M   19   45   

Mike Cammalleri   31   $6 M   26   45   

Milan Michalek   29   $4.3 M   17   39   

Benoit Pouliot   27   $1.3 M   15   36   

Dustin Penner   31   $2 M   14   35   

Dany Heatley   33   $7.5 M   12   28   

Nikolai Kulemin   27   $2.8 M   9   20   

- Sam Carchidi

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