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New GM Hextall happy with Flyers' current makeup

NHL.com's 30 in 30 series focus' on the Flyers

Wednesday, 08.6.2014 / 8:00 AM ET / News
By Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com
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New GM Hextall happy with Flyers\' current makeup
  NEWS: Flyers Sign Del Zotto to 1-yr Contract  l NEWS: Timonen receiving treatment for blood clots  l  WATCH: Hextall reacts 











It's been a quiet offseason for the Philadelphia Flyers as far as roster changes, for two very good reasons.

First, the team is butting against the $69 million upper limit of the NHL salary cap.

Second, general manager Ron Hextall is happy with what's in place.

"When I took over I liked this team, and I [still] like our team," Hextall said.

Since losing to the New York Rangers in Game 7 in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Flyers' biggest move came May 7, with Paul Holmgren elevated to team president and Hextall promoted from his assistant GM role to take over full control of the hockey team.

"He's ready," Holmgren said of Hextall then. "He's more than ready. He's been ready for a few years. He put his time in and he's earned the opportunity."

Hextall's biggest offseason move was trading top-line left wing Scott Hartnell to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for versatile forward R.J. Umberger. Hextall saw the trade as advantageous for two reasons: Umberger's speed and versatility helps the lineup, and it provided a bit of salary cap relief -- Hartnell had five seasons at $4.75 million per season remaining on his contract; Umberger will count $4.6 million against the cap for three seasons.

For the Flyers, every little bit helps. According to CapGeek, they're slightly more than $3 million over the cap, but that includes defenseman Chris Pronger and his $4.9 million salary. When they place him on long-term injured reserve, they'll be about $1.9 million below the threshold.

FLYERS ACQUIRE UMBERGER
FLYERS FREE AGENCY
  FLYERS RE-SIGN BRAYDEN SCHENN
  RE-SIGN EMERY; SIGN ZEPP
  McGINN TRADED TO SJ  l  AKESON  l  VANDEVELDE
  F-STORTINI  l  RW-GORDON  l  D-SCHULTZ   
  FTV: HEXTALL ON... EMERY  l  DAY 1  l  LECAVALIER

"We're going to be under," Hextall said. "There's nothing pressing for us. We don't have to get rid of a player, and at this stage I don't necessarily envision us getting rid of a player. Things can change in a hurry, but I like our team."

If things hold the Flyers will look to fill any needs from within, including the open spot on the top line vacated by Hartnell.

Umberger, a five-time 20-goal scorer, will be an option to play alongside center Claude Giroux and right wing Jakub Voracek. Other options could be Vincent Lecavalier, Michael Raffl and Brayden Schenn, all of whom saw time in that spot last season.

"There's a few candidates," Hextall said. "It's going to be up for grabs. … There's a spot open there and I'm sure a lot of guys will be hungry for it."

The top six on defense took a hit with the announcement Tuesday veteran Kimmo Timonen was hospitalized in Finland due to blood clots in his lower right leg and both lungs. Timonen, who signed a one-year extension this summer, had 35 points, averaged 20:19 per game and was named the team's best defenseman for a third straight season. Hextall said the Flyers will operate as if Timonen's absence will be long-term.

"There's no question it's a setback, there's no other way to explain it. But we'll adjust and we'll do what we can to make the team better," Hextall said Tuesday. "But we'll see what happens. But absolutely, you can't take not only the player but I think the experience and the calm and the poise and the respect that Kimmo has in the locker room and say you didn't take a step back."

Nick Schultz was signed to a one-year contract this summer, and Hextall added free-agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto just hours after announcing that Timonen would miss time.

The Flyers also have a number of young defensemen that could push for spots, topped by Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg and Shayne Gostisbehere.

"They're going to have to come in and make a huge impression," Hextall said. "The way I view it is if a young player isn't going to make your team better, he's probably better playing bigger minutes somewhere else. He's going to have to come in and prove to us they can make the Philadelphia Flyers a better hockey club."

Hextall's other offseason move was re-signing Ray Emery to serve as the backup goalie to Steve Mason, whose three-year contract extension starts this season.

"Mason is a real, real talented guy," Hextall said. "If you watch him you can see it out there; he oozes talent. When he's on his game, the game is easy for him. He moves around so fluidly, he's very efficient. But he's got to come back and he's got to be consistent from year to year. That's what he's out to prove and that's what we're looking forward to seeing, the consistency from year to year."

Consistency is something Hextall would like to see more of from his entire roster.

"We have to be more consistent and more ready to go every night," he said. "And compete. It's a hard League. It's hard to win. It's hard to get points. You can't let any games go by where you just mail it in and don't have a chance at picking up some points."


Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 78 22 45 -8 67
W. Simmonds 81 32 28 -7 60
B. Schenn 80 26 33 3 59
J. Voracek 73 11 44 -5 55
S. Gostisbehere 64 17 29 8 46
S. Couturier 63 11 28 8 39
M. Raffl 82 13 18 9 31
M. Read 79 11 15 -5 26
M. Streit 62 6 17 -1 23
S. Laughton 71 7 14 -2 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 23 19 10 .918 2.51
M. Neuvirth 18 8 4 .924 2.27
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