Flyers load up on defense in NHL draft

The Flyers have promoted another former player into the role of GM, as ROn Hextall takes over the position Wednesday morning. Credit: Getty Images
Ron Hextall called the shots at the Wells Fargo Center last weekend during his first NHL draft as Flyers GM. Credit: Getty Images

Sam Hinkie, you missed your calling. You would’ve loved the NHL Draft.

Had it been the Sixers’ general manager rather than Ron Hextall explaining why the Flyers drafted a kid with “tremendous upside” — like 17-year-old defenseman Travis Sanheim, who won’t be ready for at least a couple of years at the earliest — no one would’ve blinked. That’s the biggest difference between drafts for the teams which play in the same building.

In hoops drafted players drafted are expected to help almost immediately. In hockey what’s the rush? If they’re good enough, they’ll eventually get here.

“We have to remember these guys are prospects,” said Hextall, at this weekend’s draft where the host city’s boisterous fans took more delight in jeering Commissioner Gary Bettman and the mere mention of bitter rivals like the Bruins, Rangers, Devils and especially Penguins than anything the Flyers did. “They have a lot of work to do. It’s now time for Travis to take the next step and work harder, eat right and develop his body There is a growth period here. He’s a long way from playing in the NHL.”

Yet, with higher ranked names still on the board when their turn came at No. 17 just before 9 p.m. Friday night— including Sewell, NJ defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and Kaspari Kapenen, son of former Flyer Sami Kapanen — they went for the 6-3 kid ranked only No. 53 by the so-called experts at central scouting. Of course, considering he’d started the season down at No. 167, his growth has already been remarkable.

That’s been a Flyers’ pattern in recent years, including last season when they bypassed higher regarded names for 6-6 defenseman Samuel Morin and later took Swedish blueliner Robert Hagg. Add Shayne Gostisbehere, the star of Union’s Frozen Four run to the NCAA title and Hextall can foresee quite a competition to make the jump to the parent club.

“We got a real good group of young defensemen now,” said Hextall, who added yet two more to the crop with third round pick Mark Friedman and Swedish 7th rounder Jesper Pettersson Besides them came 2nd round right wing Nicolas Aube-Kubel and left wingers Oskar Lindblom of Sweden in the fifth round and Russian Radel Fazleev in the sixth. “We have a real good group of young forwards on our team. These guys are gonna join those young forwards in two, three or four years. I got a mental picture in my mind of our team in three, four years and I get really excited.”

The newest would-be Flyers — even though it may take awhile before they’re back playing in the Wells Fargo Center, feel the same.

“I knew they were extremely interested in me,” said Sanheim, teammates with Fazleev on the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. . “You could feel the passion in the building when they were making their pick. To be in the building and have that support right away was amazing.”

“When I put on the jersey on, it was awesome,” added Aube-Kubel, considered a speedy but undersized winger with Val d’Or of the Quebec Junior League, which went to the Memorial Cup semifinals. “Just to hear the screaming for the Flyers in the building was incredible.”

Had Hextall been able to pull off the deal he was working on he would’ve really heard something. Making a pitch to Florida for consensus top pick in the draft, defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the Flyers reportedly offered Brayden Schenn, Vinny Lecavalier and Braydon Coburn but refused to include Wayne Simmonds. That, as well as a number of other proposed second-day deals to either move up or acquire more picks, ultimately fell through.

“Somebody else has got to be willing to move,” explained Hextall, who hadn’t planned on going as heavy on the defensive end for a franchise which hasn’t had a draft choice play regularly on its back line since Chris Therien in 2004. “Teams say `Yeah, we’ll move back, but then they want a king’s ransom. You can’t move up or do something that you don’t want to do and overpay. If you feel you got the right deal, you do it, and if you don’t, you don’t.”

So the Flyers stood pat, leaving Hextall no wiggle room under the salary cap, which came in lower than expected at $69 million when free agency gets underway Tuesday. In fact they’re $236,000 over the ceiling.

“It affects us for sure,” conceded Hextall, who tried desperately—in vain—to get someone to assume Lecavalier’s four-year $18 million contract. “We’ve got to find a way to get below it. It was a little lower than we thought and hoped.”

Maybe Sam Hinkie would have some suggestions.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…