In the seven years Ron Hextall spent as vice president and assistant general manager for the L.A. Kings, the organization captured its first Stanley Cup in 2012 — and then won another one in 2014, one year after he returned to Philadelphia as the assistant GM.
The former all-star goalie played a key role in helping piece together the roster and had a front row seat to watch Kings GM Dean Lombardi construct the organization into one of the elite franchises in the NHL.
Hextall appears to be following a similar blueprint that Lombardi designed to transform the Flyers into a perennial Cup contender. Since being named GM in 2014, Hextall has adopted his former mentor’s philosophy of building through the draft, focusing on defense and preaching patience with young players on the Flyers roster and in the minors.
By almost mirroring what Lombardi did each year, it could provide a window into what kind of moves Hextall will make this offseason. Let’s take a closer look.
In his third offseason as GM in 2008, Lombardi traded veterans Michael Cammalleri and Lubomir Visnovsky. In return, he netted the 13th overall pick — to go along with the No. 2 selection they already had — and center Jarret Stoll and D-man Matt Greene, who are two gritty players that were important cogs on both Cup teams.
With the second pick, the Kings choose defenseman Drew Doughty, who played the entire ’08-'09 season with L.A. and has been a seven-time All-Star. The 13th pick, defenseman Colten Teubert, never played for the team but defenseman Slava Voynov, grabbed early in the second round, was an excellent two-way player that also won two Cups.
All of the moves were made with an eye toward the future. Expect the same strategy this summer from Hextall.
Hextall’s potential moves
Might he be looking to move a couple veterans — Mark Streit, Matt Read and either goalie Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth — for draft picks and/or young players that could develop into cores like Stoll and Greene?
After drafting defensemen with his first pick in the draft the last two years, Hextall is likely to go the offensive route at next month’s event with the 18th pick — or might add a higher selection or another one via a trade. For the first time in years, the team also has cap room but Hextall probably will spend only on young players that can grow with the club rather than on guys on the north side of 30.
Hextall will not divulge any of his plans, but by tracing some history from the team he spent seven years with prior to returning to the Flyers, we can at least make some calculated guesses as to what he will do this offseason.