As a Flyers fan, I’ve become used to being pissed off and panicking at this point of the summer. Cringing every time they announced a contract extension has become habitual. The past two summers have been different, especially this one.
Since Ron Hextall has taken over as GM, we’ve been able to relax a bit. We’ve been able to see the news of a new contract or signing, and know that we’re not going to call for Hextall’s head on a silver platter.
His amazing summer began a few months early, at the trade deadline. It was a Friday night when the Flyers announced they had traded Kimmo Timonen to the Chicago Blackhawks. Kimmo brought back a 2nd round pick in 2015, and a conditional pick in 2016. Because the Blackhawks won 3 rounds and Kimmo played in 50% of the games, it will be a 2016 2nd round pick.
It was 2 a.m on a Monday, 13 hours before the trade deadline, Braydon Coburn was traded to the Lightning for a first and third round pick, as well as young defenseman Radko Gudas. The first round pick would end up being Tampa Bay’s 29th overall pick.
Shortly after the 20014-15 season ended, the Flyers parted ways with head coach Craig Berube. Berube was always criticized for his lineup choices. He would healthy scratch people like Luke Schenn and MDZ over Grossmann and Colaiacovo. He’d cater to forwards Zac Rinaldo, R.J Umberger, and Vinny Lecavalier over Matt Read and Sean Couturier.
A month after Berube was fired, theFlyers announced they had hired Dave Hakstol from the University of North Dakota. Hakstol has worked with young talent such as: Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie, Drew Stafford, Travis Zajac and Matt Greene. He has also worked with Hextall’s son, Brett Hextall. He’s a fresh face in the organization. The Flyers tend to hire someone who is in the Flyers family. Hakstol could be what the Flyers need. Especially with all of the young talent coming up.
Hextall continued to show interest in leagues outside of the NHL for talent. He signed KHL defenseman Evgeni Medvedev to a one year $3 million contract. Ron got himself a top 4 puck moving defenseman for pretty cheap.
This years draft weekend was one of the best I can remember. When the Flyers remained at pick 7 after the draft lottery, it was hard to get upset. Well, minus the Oilers rebuilding a rebuild. Again. It was no secret this draft class was deep. (So is next years as a fun FYI) It was called the deepest in 10 years. As long as you were in the top 10, it was said you could get an NHL ready talent.
Hextall selected Ivan Provorovwith their pick, which came as no surprise. Many mock drafts had him going at number 7. While the Flyers are still weak at the wing, Provorov was too special to pass up on. The Flyers have been said to have one of the most talented and dynamic defensive cores in prospects. Provorov has potential to be the true number one defenseman they have had since Pronger. Because he’s under 20, his only options are the WHL or NHL. The Flyers did sign Provorov to an entry level contract. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a few games with the Flyers. I also expect him to go back to juniors before 10 games. That way he won’t burn a year off of his ELC.
In the same night, Ron Hextall would make another move, and trade up to pick 24 overall. The pick came from the Maple Leafs for pick number 29 (thank you, Tampa) and pick number 61. With the 24th pick, they selected Travis Konecny. Mock drafts had projected Konecny to go in the middle of the first round. Hextall had to jump at the opportunity to grab him. Konecny is a center/right wing who is a right handed shot. He has a lot of upside to him. It’ll be fun to watch him develop. Like Provorov, Konecny is under 20, leaving his options the OHL or NHL. Konecny also signed an ELC. The situations are the same with the 10 games.
Hextall wasn’t done with the draft weekend on Friday night. The very next day it was announced that Niklas Grossmann and Chris Pronger’s contract were sent to Arizona. The Flyers would receive 25-year-old center Sam Gagner, and a conditional 2016 or 2017 conditional draft pick. The Flyers retained $500,000 of Grossmann’s cap hit. This trade gave them around 5 million in cap space.
Gagner hasn’t appeared to be incredibly successful. The young forward has also been on struggling Oilers and Coyotes teams. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do here. If it doesn’t work here, he’s a RFA at the end of the 2015-16 season. It’s a no harm no foul situation.
This trade has to be the best trade of the summer. I think it’s probably the favorite of almost every single Flyers fan out there. Zac Rinaldo is no longer a Flyer. Zac Rinaldo brought back a third round pick. Zac Rinaldo is now a Bruin. I saw the tweet from the Flyers and had to read it at least 20 times. Zac Rinaldo, who is barely an AHL caliber player, brought back a 2016 3rd round pick. I can’t even analyze this because I’m still laughing at the Bruins.
Ron Hextall continued to show that he has faith in the young core of the team with extensions given to Couturier, Voracek, and Del Zotto. Voracek had a career year with the Flyers. And what’s crazy is that he’s just starting to enter his prime. Couturier should and will thrive in Hakstol’s system. Del Zotto is the kind of defenseman that Hakstol likes. He’ll be able to join the rush.
Everything Hextall has done fits into the puzzle. It’s just a complicated one right now. Patience my fellow fans. This offseason has been incredible if you’re a Flyers fan. For once we’re not wondering how to get under the cap. We aren’t cursing because our future has been traded away. Enjoy it, Flyers fans. If you’re like me, and have yet to see a cup, it’s almost our turn.