When Ron Hextall was hired to be the next general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, the vision was to compete while restocking the farm team and setting up the NHL team for future success down the line. This formula involves relying heavily on draft picks and hoping that some of the prospects can take that next developmental step in their career.
A fresh vision of competing while needing to get replenish the franchise pipeline of prospects was much needed for the Flyers at the time.
To give the readers a better view into why they needed this vision, Scott Laughton was the top offensive prospect and the top defensive prospects at the time were Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin, and Robert Hagg.
Quickly after 2014, Ron Hextall knew that the next draft was critical in regards to bringing young talent to Philadelphia that will make an impact on the future of the franchise. With this in mind, Hextall drafted Ivan Provorov with the 7th overall pick and Travis Konecny with the 24th overall pick in the 2015 NHL entry draft.
Following the 2015 draft, the Flyers were in desperate need of finding their franchise goalie, and with Carter Hart, they drafted just what they were looking for. The 2016 draft for Ron Hextall was a very important one. There may not be a ton of standouts in terms of big league expectations, however, stockpiling the farm systems with talents young players was needed. Names in the 2016 draft include German Rubtsov, Pascal Laberge, Wade Allison, Carson Twarynski, and Connor Bunnaman just to name a few.
Even after the 2016 draft, Ron Hextall knew that he needed more. His plan of compiling important draft assets was working and the 2017 draft was another great one. The Flyers were destined for the number 13 pick, but for some reason, the hockey gods finally decided that they were going to bless the franchise by giving the Flyers the number two pick of the draft, which turned out to be Nolan Patrick.
Just a short time after Patrick was drafted in the 1st round, Ron Hextall selected picked Morgan Frost. Frost was acquired with one of the draft picks that was sent back from St. Louis in the Brayden Schenn trade. The other first round pick that was acquired in the Schenn trade was Joel Farabee, who was selected 14th overall in the 2018 NHL entry draft. Another huge addition (no pun intended) to the prospect stockpile was Issac Ratcliffe, the 6’6 winger with size, hands, and a great shot. The 2017 draft helped add a ton of value to the franchise and the future will be better because of this draft.
Although Ron Hextall made mistakes and was unable to take the next step of the process, without his staff and their drafting ability, who knows if the Flyers are even close to the position they are in now. Every general manager has a list of bad moves and a list of good moves. It does not matter if you think Ron Hextall was a good manager and it does not matter if you think he was a bad manager, it comes down to Hextall putting this franchise in a place to succeed for the long-term and that is what he did by laying the foundation for Chuck Fletcher.
The reason I am explaining the past is to understand the present.
The Flyers have come a very long way, and although the reputation of being mediocre has proceeded this club for the last decade or so, the smaller moves have finally added up and the prospects are turning the corner and making an huge impact on the franchise.
Eventually, some of the younger prospects will force older veterans out of their spot within the lineup and this is great to see. With the older core still in tact, the youth have the older players to look up to and learn from while adjusting to the professional game themselves. The puzzle pieces are casually being placed in the proper places and the younger players are starting to thrive because of it.
Flyers fans have endured a roller coaster of emotion over the last decade or so, but with Ron’s plan in place and with Chuck effectively carrying it out the proper way, the Philadelphia Flyers are currently in a position to be a very exciting team for a very long time.
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