Ron Hextall, Flyers Could Address Goalie Position With Trade at NHL Draft

CHICAGO - Besides coming home with a prized first-round forward, who might even play this season in the NHL, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has another goal at the NHL draft this weekend.

Shore up his goaltending.

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As of now, the Flyers are going into next fall with oft-injured veteran Michal Neuvirth and young Anthony Stolarz, who is coming off knee surgery and is progressing in rehab.

Hextall would prefer to get a jump on free agency this weekend by making a deal to obtain a veteran goaltender that has two years or less on his contract and is not looking to break the bank. Or obtain a UFA's rights if a deal can be struck.

There are some possibilities. Dallas, for instance, has three goalies on its roster in Ben Bishop, Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. Lehtonen and Niemi each have a year left on their contracts.

Other possibilities are Anders Nilsson, a free agent in Buffalo, or Jonathan Bernier, a free agent in Anaheim.

There is also Calvin Pickard, one of the goalies Las Vegas took in the expansion draft.

"We're going to look for the best option and we'll act on it," Hextall said Thursday night. "The option is figuring out the timing and who is available.

"It's not one of those things where I can sit and say it's going to be in place tomorrow or July 1 or July 2."

Hextall reiterated he's not comfortable going with Neuvirth and Stolarz as his duo for next season because of the former's injury history and Stolarz's inexperience.

"Let's see if we can find an option that is better for us short term," Hextall said. "There is always an option. Is [Stolarz] the best option? I don't know if you can say that."

Loose pucks
Hextall said if forward Jordan Weal wants to wait and test free agency, then so be it. He added he does plan to speak to Weal's agent, J.P. Barry, at the draft to try and get this deal done before July 1. ... Hextall said he protected Scott Laughton in the expansion draft because he feels the 23-year-old has greatly improved his overall game after last year's season in Lehigh Valley and can make the Flyers' roster. "I don't know why people are surprised about [Laughton being protected]," he said. "Personally, for Scotty, I think a lot of things came to him very quickly and it hurt Scotty. Last year, he figured it out."

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