Hextall's first draft as Flyers GM

Posted: June 26, 2014

RON HEXTALL was in a garage cleaning cars and changing oil in 1982 when his mother told him he had a phone call. It was the Flyers, saying they had taken him in the sixth round of the NHL draft.

Hextall said he hated the Flyers growing up, mostly because his father (Bryan) and uncle (Dennis) played against them in the heyday of the Broad Street Bullies. But it only took him about 20 minutes to change his mind and "fall in love" with the franchise.

Hextall has the opportunity to make that phone call Friday night to a prospect hoping to hear his name called with the 17th pick in the 2014 draft. It is Hextall's first as the general manager of the Flyers, and he has a philosophy going into the weekend, which includes Friday night's first round and Saturday's second through seventh.

With drafts in any sport, the question always is whether to draft for need or the best available player.

Hextall's answer is simple: The best player on the board will be the Flyers' choice.

"Most of these kids in the draft, we are talking 3, 4, 5 years from now," Hextall said. "To sit here and think that I am smart enough to predict in 3, 4, 5 years would be asinine. You have to approach it where you take the best player. The teams with the top few picks might be different because there are a lot of good players up top."

The best-player scenario applies across the board, until you get to a point in the draft where there is little difference in talent between players. In the later rounds, there are sometimes pockets of players at the same skill level. Only in that case will the Flyers draft for need.

"It all depends essentially on the separation of the players," Hextall said. "If there's no separation between a forward and a defenseman or a forward and a goalie and we feel like we've drafted a couple of forwards, then we might look to the defenseman or the goalie."

Aside from the top few prospects, whom the Flyers would have to trade up to get, Hextall believes this draft class is "a good draft, but not a great draft." He believes there are no superstars in the class, but solid players.

"We'll look at trading up if we can," Hextall said. "But we won't trade up if we're going to get a similar player at whatever we trade up to as opposed to 17. But if there is separation from where we are, to ahead of us, we would look to trade up."

Hextall said he is an absolute believer in building a franchise through the draft. He will have his first chance to do so as GM on home ice, at the Wells Fargo Center.

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