Flyers General Manager Ron Hextall lost an alternate captain to the Golden Knights in the expansion draft, completed a surprising trade on draft day with the Blues, made a no-brainer of a first-round draft pick and added a goalie in free agency that essentially elicited a yawn from the fan base over the last six weeks.
The summer hasn’t exactly been riveting for the GM, but it hasn’t been dull, either, as Hextall has made calculating deals.
With the offseason over except for a minor signing, let’s size up how Hextall’s moves will impact the 2017-18 season and hand out grades for each one.
Despite losing the fourth-line center, penalty-kill specialist and popular player in the expansion draft, Hextall likely felt that he could upgrade the position with a younger option from within the organization. Expect someone like 23-year-old Scott Laughton, who the GM has reaped high praise on after a strong defensive season last year with the Phantoms, to fill the role this season. Ideally, the 2012 first-round pick can slide into Bellemare’s role on the PK and add more offense. Grade: B
Dealing the team’s second-leading goal scorer from last season to the Blues in exchange for Jori Lehtera and two draft picks caught many off guard, including Schenn. The thought here is Hextall probably feels that Nolan Patrick, taken No. 2 overall in this year’s draft, will not only make the team out of training camp but has the ability to match, or at least approach, Schenn’s 55 points from last year. Considering the numbers past high draft picks have posted in their first seasons, it’s possible. The reward, and shedding Schenn’s contract, outweighs the risk. Grade: B+
Once the Devils selected Nico Hischier with the first pick, Hextall made the easiest draft choice in his tenure with Patrick. Barring an injury or failure to earn a roster spot, Patrick will add size and skill and inject much-needed life to the Flyers. Grade: A+
Hextall favors having two quality goalies – serving as a 1 and 1A – over a No. 1 and a clear-cut backup. It is why he chose to sign Michael Neuvirth last spring and let Steve Mason, who did not want to be in a platoon, walk in free agency. Elliott, coming off a disappointing season in Calgary, has spent most of his career in a platoon and should fit seamlessly with Neuvirth. However, Mason is more talented than both and, paired with a viable backup, would have been the better choice. Grade: C-.