Hextall on Post Free Agency, Cap, Kids' Chances
By Tim Panaccio
Ron Hextall said the Flyers considered a number of prospective free agents to join Michal Neuvirth in goal, but in the end, he was satisfied that Brian Elliott had all the “check” marks covered.
Primarily, the ability to play in a tandem, the competitive spirit, and something I wrote earlier this year on CSNPhilly.com: there are goalies you play in front of and goalies you play for. Elliott, as Hextall noted, was someone, “teammates wanted to play for.”
Translation: Steve Mason’s honest and uncensored candor after games was something that rubbed Flyer teammates the wrong way and was a major reason why he wasn’t re-signed.
Or as Hextall put it Sunday, in a slightly different way, “In the end, change is the number one reason. It will probably be good for Mase and for us, and Brian being available played into it.”
The general manager also acknowledged what fans already expected. The Flyers are pretty much done in free agency. Any other signings will be for depth purposes with the Phantoms.
Hextall is trying to remain true to his word about young players being given the chance to strut their self.
To that end, you will have Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, Sam Morin, Robert Hagg, Mike Vecchione and Scott Laughton all vying for spots on the roster this fall, which could be 22 or 23 (max) players.
“Three years ago, we set a course and this is part of staying the course with drafting and developing,” Hextall said.
“Part of drafting and developing yes, making players earn it, but also not boxing them out with older veterans. There is opportunity on our hockey club for young players to step up.”
Now here’s the rub.
Hextall likes to carry about $1.5 million cap space, if he can, into the season for call-up purposes. If you take Lindblom, Morin, Hagg and Vecchione, along with signing Elliott, the Flyers will have just $2.48 salary cap space – and that’s without Nolan Patrick.
I’m using CapFriendly’s numbers, too.
Obviously, a veteran or two has to disappear in the fall. Also, the Flyers are carrying overages into the season amounting to $1.0625 million, from performance bonuses earned by Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere last season.
“You always like to have room because if some of our young players hit their performance bonuses, I don’t want it to go onto the following year and that’s what happens if they are over the cap,” Hextall said.
It happened last year and chances are, it will happen this year, as well, given the number of potential rookies.
Hextall said he was “comfortable” where he’s at right now.
I gotta figure he’s gonna be a little uncomfortable in September.
And yet, if he is, that’s a good problem to have because it means the kids are pushing for roster spots.
~ finito ~