When it came to the Philadelphia Flyers’ goaltending situation, GM Ron Hextall decided to pair veteran pickup Brian Elliott with Michal Neuvirth rather than gambling on promising younger netminder Anthony Stolarz.
Some of the Flyers’ worst recent moves came down to aiming for quick free-agent fixes rather than trusting rising players, but that one goalie move might be the exception rather than the rule this summer.
Hextall seems like he’s sticking to the plan, which in this case could translate to very little movement in the free agent market.
” … As I stated a few days ago, we don’t want to box our young players out,” Hextall said in a press conference, via Broad Street Hockey’s transcription. “Three years ago we set a course, and we’re staying with that course. And part of that course is draft and develop. Part of drafting and developing is yes, making your players earn it, but also not boxing them out with older veterans. We feel like there’s opportunity on our hockey club for young guys to step up, and quite frankly we expect them to and we have multiple players that can step up.”
2017’s number two pick Nolan Patrick is the most enticing player to watch in that regard, as he could very well make an immediate jump.
He’s far from the only intriguing prospect either trying to make a first splash or their next step, either.
The Flyers signed Jordan Weal almost certainly with expectations for bigger things, while 20-year-olds Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov could blossom further in 2017-18. One would expect the likes of Samuel Morin and Travis Sanheim to start really knocking on the door, too.
Of course, sitting through such baby steps often requires the patience to accept incremental growth – and to live with some stumbles – something that, historically, the Flyers have occasionally struggled with.
Here’s hoping that Flyers ownership displays the same patience with Hextall’s process and the subtly impressive GM has with this team’s prospects, as this franchise seems poised for future success.
It may just be a question of “When?”