The 2015 offseason in the NHL seems to be the season of the newly installed General Manager, and the Philadelphia Flyers decided to play the game as well. The new GM in town is Ron Hextall and he has already demonstrated that he is going to operate differently than previous boss Paul Holmgren. Whereas some new general managers have started out slowly and cautiously this offseason, Hextall hit the ground running and does not show any signs of slowing down. Faced with a coaching vacancy, he decided to deal with that issue first and hired Dave Hakstol to take over the reins from Craig Berube. This was immediately followed by what many analysts consider to be some quality trades, and a better than expected draft.
Last season was disappointing in the city of Brotherly Love, as the team missed out on the playoffs. Anything less than making the playoffs this next campaign will certainly leave a sour taste in the mouth of many fans, as the opportunity is certainly there for progress. To this point, the Flyers appear posed to make a certain run at the Wild Card, at minimum, if they can stay healthy and the remainder of the offseason sees a few more quality moves.
Graphic via hockeysfuture
In the draft, the Flyers had the number 7 overall pick, and they used it to select Ivan Provorov of the Brandon Wheat Kings. Provorov is a 6’ defender weighing in at a solid . Hailing from Russia, he was scouted as one of the top defenders in the draft, so the Flyers seem to have picked a quality player that can contribute for a long time to come. In addition, the Flyers traded up four spots to number 24 in the first round in order to select a forward in Travis Konecny. Konecny has been rated as high as the number 14 prospect in all of North America, so it appears to be a wise move for Philadelphia to have traded up to get him. This makes two solid draft picks this offseason for the Flyers, which will add to their depth in the long term, which is something that the team has been desperately aiming to do.
A new signing that has left many in Philadelphia scratching their heads is that of backup goaltender Michal Neuvirth. It is a two-year deal coming in at just over $1.6 million. This will take some time to see how it pans out, but for a club that is struggling to work within the salary cap and become playoff contenders, some fear that the money could have been better spent elsewhere. The reality is that Neuvirth is solid behind the goal and has put up some respectable numbers, but nothing worth really writing home about. The jury is still out on this one.
Overall, the team is making progress. With two months remaining in the offseason, there are certainly some deals that are to be made. It will be those deals that will likely determine if the Flyers will creep into the playoffs come next April. In the end, the long term prospects appear to be bright if the team can get some stability in management and coaching, and retain some quality veterans to lead the way.
Graphic via penguins.nhl