Ron Hextall on Flyers Moving Up in Lottery: ‘It Changes Things a Lot'

"It changes things a lot."

Speaking at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. for the first time since coming up big at the NHL's draft lottery, that's how Flyers general manager Ron Hextall described the organization lucking into the No. 2 overall pick.

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But aside from the quality of the player chosen, how much does it change the Flyers' plan for the 2017-18 season? How much will it change the way Hextall views the team's current roster, and how much should it change the expectation of a franchise that has missed the playoffs in two of the past three years?

Hextall says the decision to draft Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier will not affect the team's priorities or offseason plan, regardless of whether either player is NHL ready.

"We would like to think we know that, but until the kid comes in and shows you what he can do," Hextall said. "If you make an educated judgment and then you go from there. A player has to come in and prove that he's ready and at this age not many are, so we'll wait and see which way he goes from there."

The draft is just one of many items on Hextall's offseason checklist that includes new contracts for RFA Shayne Gostisbehere and UFA Jordan Weal, the expansion draft in June, free agency in July and the search for a new assistant coach to replace Joe Mullen.

When asked if any of these events are connected on his decision-making process, Hextall said, "I guess the expansion draft and free agency possibly. I don't see how any of the other stuff with your entry draft can be intertwined. We're going to take the best available player in the amateur draft.  There's a little bit of uncertainty in the expansion draft. Trying to figure out who were going to lose what position were going to lose. We have no control over it."

Hextall has been in contact with former Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who was fired a month ago and three years after winning their 2nd Stanley Cup Championship.  The two worked closely together before Hextall left LA to come to Philadelphia. Could they be working together again?

"I don't know," Hextall said, "I talked to Dean a couple of times. He's not doing anything right now as far as I know. I'm actually waiting for a call back from him. It's sobering where we are now in pro sports to win championships in five or six years and lose your job.  In today's day and age that's where we're at."

Hextall was in Finland during last week's lottery and he's scheduled to leave for France Tuesday to observe the IIHF World Championships where the Flyers are heavily represented.  Since they're not fighting for a Stanley Cup Championship, they may as well fight each other after Radko Gudas stiff-armed captain Claude Giroux in Canada's game against the Czech Republic.

"'G' is probably glad he (Gudas) only gave him a little nudge," Hextall said. "That's Radko. That's what we love about him. So you can't pick and choose right?  You love Radko because of the way he plays and he plays that way all the time no matter who. I think he fought his best buddy down in Tampa, so that's just the way he is and that's what you love about him."

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