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DRAFT: Why take the "best player" approach

Wednesday, 06.25.2014 / 3:42 PM ET / News
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DRAFT: Why take the \"best player\" approach





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.

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  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 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 51 16 28 -6 44
J. Voracek 51 8 34 -1 42
W. Simmonds 51 18 16 -6 34
B. Schenn 49 14 15 -1 29
S. Gostisbehere 33 9 18 4 27
S. Couturier 40 9 15 9 24
M. Read 50 9 9 -5 18
S. Laughton 51 4 10 -6 14
M. Del Zotto 49 4 9 -9 13
M. Raffl 51 6 6 2 12
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 12 13 7 .916 2.69
M. Neuvirth 11 6 2 .933 2.14
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