VOORHEES, N.J. – Ron Hextall found himself working out of the NHL Entry Draft penthouse last year when the No. 2 overall pick fell into his lap via the lottery.
There’s been speculation the Flyers general manager would like to return to those comfortable confines next week when the league’s 31 teams convene in Dallas for the annual pick-‘em contest.
That would be nice but this time it’s going to take a bit more creativity because the Flyers only have two relatively high picks (No. 14 and No. 19 – the former via last year’s Brayden Schenn trade with St. Louis) and would need to make a deal to move significantly upward.
At Thursday’s pre-Draft press conference at the Skate Zone, Hextall wasn’t about to tip his hand but made it known he’s leaning toward standing pat as far as movement goes.
So for those who are hopeful the Flyers can come up with another Nolan Patrick, last year’s No. 2 overall selection, it’s going to be a waiting game until the festivities get underway Friday, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN), at American Airlines Center.
Hextall, who was named general manager back in 2014, continues to stick with his plan to rebuild the Flyers from within, which is why there is so much attention paid to the draft as far as Philadelphia is concerned.
Of course, there’s always the curiosity factor of “what if?’’
Could the Flyers try to package some picks and move up to, say, No. 7?
Rumor has it the Flyers are in the market for a righthanded defenseman.
Right now, the only righthanded defenseman on the Flyers’ roster with NHL experience is Radko Gudas.
There are two righthanded defensemen – Evan Bouchard and Noah Dobson – projected at No. 6 and No. 7 in some NHL mock drafts.
As is usually the case, Hextall doesn’t like to get into addressing specific needs via the draft but he won’t deny that adding a righthanded defenseman would be helpful.
“When you look at the hockey world, it (lack of a righthanded defenseman) is a weakness in the whole chink of armor there, so, yeah, we’d love to have one,’’ Hextall said.
“But. . .we tend to go by our lists. We’re not going to take our list and go down (and pass better players) to find a righthanded-shooting defenseman. Maybe you move down where you think you’re going to get a guy and maybe you do that. I’m not going to jump 10 guys on our list to draft a right-shot defenseman.’’
In fairness, the Flyers do have a big right-shot defenseman in Phil Myers waiting in the wings. He played a whopping 66 minutes in the Flyers’ five-overtime win over the Charlotte Checkers in the Calder Cup playoffs.
Even though there’s a perception that the Flyers need more scoring up front and that they’re somewhat loaded on the backline, Hextall gives the impression he might tab a defenseman – preferably a righthander — somewhere pretty high up in the draft.
“Last year we needed some size so we got some,’’ he said. “You have to recognize your needs as an organization. It doesn’t mean every player is going to hit but you try to get a clump of guys like, hey we need wingers with size, okay so you draft three or four guys over a couple years.
“I think right-shot defensemen, they’re hard to find. They really are. You look at the draft, there’s not a ton of them. Goal scorers, we’d like to have a goal scorer or two if we can, which is no different than probably any year. We’re good in the middle, as I said, you can’t have too many centers. Goalies, I don’t see us chasing a goalie this year. If somebody’s there in a good spot where we feel good about it, fine but we’re not going to chase a goalie. You know, a year or two from now, how many ‘D’ do we have left in the minors or out and about, so I would be shocked if we don’t draft a couple defensemen.’’
Flyers’ draft selections:
Round 1: 14th and 19th overall.
Round 2: Exact selection slot to be determined.
Round 3: No selection.
Round 4: To be determined.
Round 5: Two selections (the Flyers’ and Arizona’s).
Round 6: To be determined.
Round 7: Two selections (the Flyers’ and Montreal’s).
TSN’s Craig Button’s 2018 NHL mock draft:
1. Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Dahlin, Defense.
2. Carolina Hurricanes: Andrei Svechnikov, Right wing.
3. Montreal Canadiens: Filip Zadina, Right wing.
4. Ottawa Senators: Brady Tkachuk, Left wing.
5. Arizona Coyotes: Quinn Hughes, Defense.
6. Detroit Red Wings: Evan Bouchard, Defense.
7. Vancouver Canucks: Noah Dobson, Defense.
8. Chicago Blackhawks: Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Center.
9. New York Rangers: Oliver Wahlstrom, Right wing.
10. Edmonton Oilers: Adam Boqvist, Defense.
11. New York Islanders: Barrett Hayton, Center.
12. New York Islanders (via Calgary): Bode Wilde, Defense.
13. Dallas Stars: Ty Smith, Defense.
14. FLYERS: Joel Farabee, Left wing.
15. Florida Panthers: Joe Veleno, Center.