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DRAFT: Why take the "best player" approach

Wednesday, 06.25.2014 / 3:42 PM / News
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DRAFT: Why take the \"best player\" approach
Why GM Ron Hextall takes the stance as \"best player available\" in his first Draft at the helm of the Flyers





NHL drafts are hardly ever predictable, and this year’s is no different. Nevertheless, even with all the uncertainties and surprises that come throughout the seven rounds, Ron Hextall maintains a simple philosophy. Take the best player available.

With the 17th overall pick, as well as five additional picks, the first year GM knows most of the players in this class are a few years away from seeing NHL action. He’s not looking to fill the team’s current holes. Instead, Hextall is trying to find the most talented, skillful pieces he can to help build for the team’s future.

MORE ON THE FLYERS & DRAFT WEEK
  WATCH: Hextall on possibly drafting a goaltender?
  WATCH: Hextall on possibly trading up in the First Round
  READ: Jay Greenberg on what the Flyers need to do at the Draft
  TRADE: Flyers acquire RJ Umberger for Scott Hartnell
  SIGNING: Flyers, Brayden Schenn agree to multi-year extension
  SCHEDULE: A look at the official 2014-15 Flyers schedule

“You’ve gotta approach it that you take the best player,” said Hextall. “I think the teams with the top few picks might be a little different approach because there are a lot of good players up top, and they’re really a similar level with not a lot of separation. So, if you’re drafting the top few picks, you might think 'I need a defenseman, or I need a center, or I need a wing to score or whatever.' But, where we’re picking, it’ll be about the best player.”

Drafting the best player available is a philosophy that has not gone unused by the Flyers in the past. Merely three years ago, Sean Couturier was chosen eighth overall, a shocking grab for the team, after he fell a few spots on the scouting list. Clearly, picking the best player available in 2011 worked well for the Flyers, who gained an NHL-ready, defensive forward.

Although choosing outside the top ten this year, the Flyers have had repeated success when drafting in this position, selecting players such as Claude Giroux, Simon Gagne, and current Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams.

“A lot of the guys who are drafted later in the draft are typically guys that are willing to put in the time and the effort and do what it takes to be an NHL player, and Justin Williams is a good example,” Hextall said of having a later first round pick. “He’s still ticking, and really you look at Justin Williams and you say there’s a kid who’s always willing to play the game. He’s always put the time in. He’s dedicated, and quite honestly loves to play the game. That’s the type of character that we will be looking for.”

However, this philosophy isn’t firmly set in concrete and neither is the Flyers taking at right at No. 17. Hextall admitted to not being opposed to trading up in the draft if the right offer comes to the table. Weighing the pros and cons, gains and losses will ultimately be the deciding factor.

“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, there is separation from where we are to ahead of us. We would look to trade up.

“It’s not something that you can put in black and white,” added Hextall about moving up in the draft. “It’s gonna come to you at the time. There’s been some talk, but those things come to you right at the time, and you just gotta be prepared.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NYI 47 32 14 1 155 130 65
2 DET 48 28 11 9 144 123 65
3 TBL 49 30 15 4 158 131 64
4 MTL 46 30 13 3 126 108 63
5 PIT 47 27 12 8 143 120 62
6 NYR 45 27 14 4 135 110 58
7 WSH 47 24 14 9 140 124 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 45 20 15 10 111 127 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 49 20 22 7 134 149 47
13 CBJ 46 21 22 3 117 145 45
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 48 14 31 3 90 171 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 49 17 40 11 57
C. Giroux 48 16 36 6 52
M. Streit 49 7 28 -2 35
W. Simmonds 49 17 12 -5 29
B. Schenn 49 10 19 -3 29
S. Couturier 49 10 12 -1 22
M. Read 49 3 15 -9 18
M. Raffl 40 12 3 6 15
M. Del Zotto 37 4 11 -7 15
V. Lecavalier 35 7 7 -10 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 9 12 6 .921 2.41
R. Emery 8 9 1 .887 3.38
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