DALLAS – Once again, the Flyers appear to have addressed some of their needs over the weekend at the NHL Entry Draft.
They added a physical defenseman, a couple right-handed backliners and some skill up front with a pair of score-minded forwards.
Which should only enhance their standing as one of the top development programs in the NHL.
But let’s stop there for a moment.
While it’s all well and good to have a bunch of talented kids running around in your system and on your roster (Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, etc.), when is it time to say let’s see some results?
After all, it’s no secret the Flyers haven’t won a playoff series in six years.
That’s a long time for any franchise, but especially one which has made it to the Stanley Cup Finals eight times — and past the first round of the playoffs more times than you can count on your fingers and toes.
The fans of the Flyers have been patient. There’s been little squawking in social media, on talk radio, in the papers, etc.
Yet one can sense there’s a bit of frustration growing here.
Yes, in coach Dave Hakstol’s three years at the helm, the Flyers have made the playoffs twice and were eliminated by the two-time champion Pittsburgh Penguins last year and the Washington Capitals, who won the Stanley Cup this year, a few seasons back.
When does the pressure start to mount on Hextall, on Hakstol and some of the veteran core players (Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek). . .not only from the media but from the folks who pay the freight, namely the season-ticketholders.
Although Ed Snider had become a somewhat more patient man in his final years, one can only imagine if this current streak of futility had taken place during his fiery years.
The guess here is it wouldn’t be pretty.
But you can’t budge Hextall off his approach.
Who knows? He might shock everyone and make a big deal when free agency opens on July 1.
Just don’t bet on it.
“We want to win playoffs, that’s our goal,’’ Hextall said after the draft concluded on Saturday. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to sacrifice any prospect for a one-year asset. It’s not going to happen. We’re not going to move a Carter Hart or a Morgan Frost for a guy that’s going to help us for one year.
“If it comes down to having to wait for some of those kids to take a little bigger piece, we’ll do that.
“In saying that, we would like to move forward, we would like to add a really good player. If we get a chance, we will, assuming the terms and cap hit is right, we will do everything we can do to continue to explore the trade market.’’
Hextall was asked if it’s difficult to come out each year and deliver the same speech, like this year, when the Flyers rang up 98 points and a playoff berth, only to fizzle against the Penguins in the postseason.
“That’s the way teams are built,’’ Hextall said. “Championship teams, that’s the way they’re built. I don’t feel like I have to explain what we’re doing. I think people know what we’re doing.
“You can’t have short-term thinking in my chair. You just can’t.’’
Hextall continues to say he would like to add a top forward and a veteran D before next season. We’ll see if that happens.
When confronted about whether this upcoming season should have a greater urgency attached to it, Hakstol went into his usual rant about “getting to the playoffs,’’ leaving it at that, rather than saying some playoff success has to be the prime objective.
“I think there’s always urgency,’’ Hakstol said. “And I don’t think we’ve ever had anything but having that feeling.
“We didn’t have success in the playoffs so that’s going to be something that we have to work towards and take advantage of after we’ve done our job in the regular season. We have to put ourselves in position to be one of those playoff teams.’’
So, there you have it. The Flyers have added yet more assets to one of the best young talent pools in hockey and the waiting game continues.
Stay tuned. The breakthrough will happen one of these years, the Flyers tell us, they just aren’t sure which one.
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