The next few days are crucial for Ron Hextall. The Flyers GM has just four days remaining before the trade deadline hits.
The Flyers are currently riding a fine line, trailing a spot in the playoffs by three points. That leaves them with a difficult decision about the future.
Based on the standings and the long odds of making the playoffs, Hextall is not in a position to buy. However, he doesn’t sound all that interested in selling either, unless a deal comes with the right price.
“We’re not going to add. We feel like we have depth quite honestly,” Hextall said in an interview with CSN Philly this week. “A couple guys got hurt. We feel like we’ve got a couple guys in Lehigh Valley that can help us. We feel like we’ve got enough depth to make it through the year and if someone goes down, we’ve got good fillers for them. We’re going to hold and if something comes up where we can make ourselves better in the future, we’ll at least look at it.”
So it sounds like Hextall is staying put…for now.
There isn’t really much that can sway Hextall’s decision. The Flyers were five points behind a playoff spot throughout the week. On Thursday night, they started a six-game homestand that will likely determine their fate.
They opened the homestand with a 3-2 win over Minnesota started that off on the right foot and closed the gap to three points.
“It’s tough because there’s a lot of teams in the position we’re in where we’re out but we’re close enough so it’s hard decisions,” Hextall said. “You always weigh where you’re at and the upside you can bring back.”
A loss on Thursday would have actually provided more clarity. Being five points back on deadline day may have shifted the Flyers attention to getting something for the players that may not return the following season. Now, a two-point gain leaves the Flyers with one game left before the deadline hits, leaving minimal time to make a decision.
In other words, now the Flyers may have to be truly wowed to make a move.
There are several players that the Flyers could look to shop in the coming days: Mark Streit, Sam Gagner, Ryan White, Radko Gudas, Nick Schultz just to name a few.
“You’re going to sacrifice a little bit for now. You want more for the future,” Hextall said. “But they’re hard decisions. There’s things you’ve got to go through and think long and hard about them because we want to give our team every opportunity to make the playoffs. On the other hand, if we can bolster ourselves for the future and not lose much, we’ll certainly look at everything.
“We’ll continue to monitor the market, see what’s out there and make the decisions when the time is appropriate.”
But there is one rumor that has been buzzing that really makes little sense for the Flyers. David Strehle of The Fourth Period reported on Thursday that the Flyers were “pushing hard” for Jonathan Drouin, the highly-touted but troubled forward for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Put Drouin’s troubling season to the side for a second. The move makes little sense for the Flyers given Hextall’s philosophy.
For one, it’s a buyer’s move and Hextall clearly said he is not looking to add. Add in the fact that Drouin would likely require a hefty package of current players and prospects or draft picks that would also make little sense for the Flyers. Trading away a player like Brayden Schenn, a prospect like Sam Morin and a draft pick goes against everything Hextall has preached to this point, especially as his plan starts to come to fruition.
Still, that seems like an unlikely occurrence at this point. The Flyers are one of 12 teams looking into the possibility of acquiring Drouin and have enough other things to worry about as the deadline approaches. In addition, it’s hard to see Hextall holding his philosophy – even if he did trade a prospect – and beating out 11 other teams.
The Drouin rumors aside, with a team not looking to add and willing to hold off on trades if the right deal does not present itself, the Flyers team that took the ice on Thursday and will again on Saturday may be the same as the one that is able to take the ice on Monday night in their first post-deadline game.
For better or worse, this is the group of players that will attempt a run to the playoffs unless something really drastic happens in a matter of days. And that doesn’t mean that things that don’t happen then won’t be revisited later.
Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.