Are We There Yet? Philly Sports Talk Examines the State of the Flyers - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Are We There Yet? Philly Sports Talk Examines the State of the Flyers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Are We There Yet? Philly Sports Talk Examines the State of the Flyers
    CSNPhilly.com
    Are we there yet? Philly Sports Talk examines the state of the Flyers

    All week on Philly Sports Talk on CSN, we examine how our teams got to this point and where they are in the rebuilding process. 
     
    Today, we finish up by taking a look at the Flyers.

     
    How did we get here?
    The Flyers' rebuild had begun when Ron Hextall returned to his old stomping grounds in the summer of 2013 as the team's new assistant general manager.
     
    He took over GM duties after one season and the philosophical change was in place. Paul Holmgren was made president and Hextall's imprint, which had already started, was ready to become bigger.
     
    What Hextall inherited was a cap-stricken team fresh off a first-round playoff loss, an organization that had tried to spend its way to immediate results instead of putting greater focus on the long game.
     
    Some of the past decisions are well-documented: signing enigmatic goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million deal in 2011 after trading for him. With a buyout, the Flyers are still paying Bryzgalov through 2027. Signing veteran center Vinny Lecavalier to a five-year, $22.5 million contract in 2013. And signing imposing defenseman Chris Pronger to a seven-year, $34.55 million extension - nobody could foresee the unfortunate concussion issues that suddenly derailed Pronger's career, but it was nonetheless a hurdle for the Flyers moving forward.
     
    Hextall has adeptly maneuvered through much of those rocky waters.
     
    Now, the Flyers are a more cost-efficient (partly because they have to be in this salary cap world), draft-oriented organization planning for the future while not ignoring the present. This rebuild hasn't been a total demolition, but more of a retooling - a smart but tricky process, especially down the line.
     
    Are the Flyers on the right path back to prosperity?
    The youth is coming.
     
    Hextall, who oftentimes is close to the vest, made that abundantly clear at his end-of-the-season press conference.
     
    "Our young players, they've done enough," Hextall said in early April. "Our young players are going to get a long look. We don't plan on going out and signing veterans on the back end. Our kids, it's time to give them a shot, and we're going to do that."
     
    But the really hard part is just beginning - results. Can the prospects catch up and meet the current core? The pressure for it to start has never been higher.
     
    Help does appear to be on the way, though, for a team that regressed this season and missed the playoffs for the third time in the past five years.
     
    Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon, Felix Sandstrom and Carter Hart give the Flyers future options in net.
     
    Two promising prospects are expected to join Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere and company on the blue line.
     
    Oskar Lindblom, a dynamic 20-year-old winger, could crack the Flyers' group of forwards, which should have Jordan Weal and Valtteri Filppula for a full season.
     
    Also, don't forget forward Mike Vecchione, a Hobey Baker finalist who signed with the Flyers out of Union College in late March.
     
    Oh, and the No. 2 pick of the draft - likely a talented center - is in the Flyers' grasp.
     
    The 2017-18 season will be a telling time for the Flyers. Patience has been required, but when will it be rewarded?
     
    The clock is ticking.