Diving inside the mind of a General Manager can be a difficult and sometimes impossible task. It is challenging to understand why they make the decisions they do and predict their next moves. However, as time goes on, a better understanding can develop as to how a particular GM operates.
In regards to Philadelphia Flyers GM, Ron Hextall, it is all about patience and sticking to the plan. Since being appointed to the position in May of 2014, Hextall has been hard at work building up this organization’s prospect pool and removing it from a disastrous cap situation. This approach has led to very few headline-worthy moves around times such as the trade deadline and free agency.
Though the Flyers find themselves in the midst of a playoff race with the rest of Metropolitan Division, it is unlikely that Hextall will deviate from his approach and make a splash before the February 26th trade deadline. Of course, there is an argument to be made that Philadelphia should finally take on the role of buyers this year. However, it is hard to imagine them parting ways with young players, or draft picks for a player they will only have on the roster for a few months. Look at someone like Evander Kane for example. Would the Flyers love to add someone with his abilities to their team with the hopes of making a deep playoff run? Sure they would; but would they do it at the cost of surrendering someone such as Samuel Morin and a couple of future draft picks? For Hextall, the answer is a loud no.
In past talks with the media, Hextall has made clear his opinions about buying at the deadline. He has pointed out that it rarely works and it always sounds like something he has no interest in. In a city hungry for success like Philadelphia, Hextall’s job is far from easy. He needs to do whatever is necessary to put a winning team on the ice each game while he builds for promising future simultaneously. So far this season, he has done a decent job at both. The Flyers could very well be a playoff team, and their young players are demonstrating that the Orange and Black could be in a perfect place for an extended length of time.
To say that Philadelphia’s GM will ignore all opportunities to improve the likelihood of his team making the postseason this Spring would be false. Hextall will explore every option and assess what effect each move would have on the future of the franchise. If an improvement can be made without putting a dent in the plan, there’s a chance it will happen. However, you’d be fooling yourself if you think Hextall is going to do anything to jeopardize what he’s been working at since rejoining the Flyers organization.
Should the Flyers “Buy”?
Whether or not Hextall will make a splash at the trade deadline, a debate can still be had about if he should. As was mentioned before, the Flyers are in the thick of the push for the playoffs. They have a good chance of being one of five Metropolitan teams to make the postseason. An argument can indeed be made that the organization should go out and obtain a big name to increase their chances. However, coming to that conclusion is impulsive with very little attention being paid to the big picture.
Even with the addition of one of the more prominent names said to be available, how far would the Flyers realistically go this Spring? Recent games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals have shown they are not quite ready to duke it out with the top teams in the East and a flashy deadline acquisition would do little to alter that reality.
If Philadelphia can make a reasonable move to improve an area such as the penalty kill, they should certainly go for it. However, as painful as it may be, Flyers Nation must maintain the approach of their General Manager and stick to the plan.