Flyers

How much will Flyers change? Another summer is here for Ron Hextall

How much will Flyers change? Another summer is here for Ron Hextall

This is a peculiar time for Ron Hextall.

In one facet, it's his time, precious for a build-from-within disciple who must feel like a kid on Christmas when the NHL draft arrives.

Then again, it's a weird time. Shortly after the Flyers' general manager unwraps his gifts and adds them to the toy bin, NHL free agency hits. Not a time when Hextall likes to play. Quickly, Christmas turns into the first day of school.

It's that time of year again for Hextall. The question is, have the times changed for the GM?

With the Flyers entering Year 4 under Dave Hakstol and looking to take the next step forward, some wonder if Hextall is ready to make free agency his new time. After all, much of the organization's youth is here and contributing, the core isn't getting any younger and the Flyers have more financial wiggle room — thanks to Hextall — with $17.2 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly.com.

But if Hextall's vision was ever in danger of shifting, an expansion team's marvelous story lent credence to his plan, reinforcing the belief in the way he operates and constructs his own hockey team.

When asked Thursday about the constant chatter regarding his core's clock and the team's youthfulness catching up to it, Hextall spoke with conviction and at length.

"They might have different roles; you almost might not depend on them quite as much because your younger guys are coming up and taking a bigger piece of the pie," Hextall said. "So all of a sudden you don't need one guy scoring 85 points, he can score 75 points or 70 points because we've got these kids coming up that are scoring more and more. 

"That's how you build a team. You don't build a team by having three top players and they go out every power play and they win you games. It's just not the way it works. You saw — Vegas is a good example. They were the best team in the league. Not the best talent, they were the best team. Teams still win. Teams still win. And that's what we've got to continue to build."

So if you were hoping Hextall was tinkering with the thought of making a free-agent splash, think again. He will stick to his guns and always has, constantly stressing the importance of never deviating from the course set at the journey's start.

None of which is to think Hextall won't utilize free agency to improve. He will make additions strategically and judiciously, but doling out money and years to a stud won't happen.

And the moment Hextall reaffirmed his M.O., the pressure picked up.

On all levels.

On Hextall's faith in Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and the mainstays delivering star-like production.

On the young foundation pieces taking heftier strides to lighten the loads for the veterans.

On the scouting and development personnel finding and molding game-changing talent.

And on the confluence of Hextall's motives and ultimate goal.

"We are still the ultimate team sport and I think Vegas proved that to all of us this year. The more we move along here, the more society, pro sports seem to put a spotlight on a star, and that's fine, but that star has got to have his teammates in our sport or you're not going to win," Hextall said. "You look at Washington, they had a lot of really good players in the playoffs. Devante Smith-Pelly. Do they win without Devante Smith-Pelly? A couple guys get all the credit but look what this guy did. We are still the ultimate team sport, we really are."

The ultimate test will be the Flyers proving it themselves.

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Alex Lyon out approximately 4 weeks with lower-body injury

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Alex Lyon out approximately 4 weeks with lower-body injury

The Flyers on Thursday announced goalie Alex Lyon would be sidelined approximately four weeks with a lower-body injury. 

Lyon was scheduled to start Tuesday's road matchup against the Islanders but was scratched after sustaining the injury during warmups. His preseason comes to a close having appeared in just one game, logging 30 minutes and stopping nine of the 10 shots he faced against the Islanders Sept. 16.

With Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth at the NHL level, Lyon was slated to begin the season in Lehigh Valley in competition with Anthony Stolarz and mega-prospect Carter Hart for playing time, with Lyon battling Stolarz for a call-up should injuries hit the Flyers’ goaltenders.

Lyon re-signed with the Flyers on a two-year contract in July. The 25-year-old goalie made his NHL debut last season, posting a 4-2-1 record with a 2.75 goals-against average and .905 save percentage in 11 games.

At the AHL level, Lyon was 16-8-2 with a 2.77 goals-against average during the regular season. Lyon helped the Phantoms reach the Eastern Conference Finals by posting a 1.98 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage in 11 playoff games.

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Flyers stock watch: Oskar Lindblom nearly a lock, Dale Weise in danger

Flyers stock watch: Oskar Lindblom nearly a lock, Dale Weise in danger

Now at the midway point of the preseason.

Which players have seen their stock rise and fall?

Stock up

Oskar Lindblom
He’s carried over the confidence from the prospect game straight into training camp. Playing with Corban Knight and Scott Laughton, Lindblom scored two goals and added an assist Wednesday, which may have solidified his place on the opening night roster. In addition, Lindblom has also shown he can be reliable on special teams, logging 7:34 of power-play and penalty-kill time in the 6-4 win (see story).

Scott Laughton
Versatile and prepared, Laughton has been a workhorse along the boards and on the penalty kill, playing physically while also chipping in some offense. He's played left and right wing throughout the preseason and has looked comfortable on both sides, which will give Dave Hakstol options in October.

Anthony Stolarz
I had very little expectations for Stolarz considering how little he’s played coming off knee surgery last September. After Alex Lyon went down in pregame warmups, Stolarz stifled the Islanders Tuesday at Barclays Center, stopping 31 of 32 shots. He’s putting in the diligent work during practice and now he’s re-entered the conversation as a solid backup to Carter Hart, not just with the Phantoms this season, but down the road with the Flyers.

Stock down

Dale Weise
You don't expect a nine-year veteran to make glaring turnovers that lead to goals and prime scoring chances, but that’s what Weise gave us Wednesday against the Rangers. Hakstol presented Weise with a prime opportunity, playing alongside Claude Giroux and Mikhail Vorobyev, and while he was able to chip in a power-play goal, the costly errors are much more glaring.

Mike Vecchione
As a 25-year-old, I expected Vecchione to be one of the experienced rookies to come in and make a statement, but he's had a very quiet camp. There was an outside opportunity to make the team as a fourth-line forward, but that won’t happen now. Vecchione’s only preseason action was just over 10 minutes in the opener at the Wells Fargo Center, and we’ve seen several younger players pass him up on the depth chart.

Christian Folin
If injuries to Andrew MacDonald and Travis Sanheim persist, the Flyers will need Folin to step in and provide some minutes. Playing 20-plus minutes on back-to-back nights, Folin turned in a solid game against the Islanders but was exposed against the Rangers. He was caught out of position for a goal and spent much of the third period chasing a quicker Rangers team in the defensive zone. Perhaps some of that was playing with 18-year-old Yegor Zamula. Still, there’s concern if Folin has to play that much in the regular season.

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