Flyers

Paul Holmgren: 'Dave Hakstol's fate is in the next GM's hands'

Paul Holmgren: 'Dave Hakstol's fate is in the next GM's hands'

It's audition time.

Dave Hakstol better ace it.

He'll have a new boss in town — and soon. Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott said Tuesday the Flyers' goal for hiring a general manager is on a timeline of "weeks, not months."

"We want to get the right fit," Scott said, "but it's a full-court press."

No matter how much Scott and team president Paul Holmgren like Hakstol, the head coach was Ron Hextall's guy. Hextall is no longer here because of a decision by the two men sitting at a press conference table in the Wells Fargo Center, explaining why the former GM wasn't going to be their guy to take the Flyers to the next level.

Their decision-making for personnel will stop there, though. The second their desired fresh outlook graces the GM chair, Holmgren and Scott won't dictate the direction.

Holmgren was brutally honest about Hakstol's future, which was already cloudy the moment Monday's decision came down on Hextall.

Tuesday pushed Hakstol's fate directly into the air.

"I think we all like Hak. He's a likable guy. I think he's an intense guy who works hard at his job," Holmgren said. "I hate to keep kicking the can down the road, but that's what I'm going to do. That's up to the next GM. I'd hate to say it, Dave Hakstol's fate is in the next GM's hands, but it is. I'm not going to make that decision. That's the next GM's job."

"All I could offer for Dave [Monday] was my support and I said if there's anything I can do to help you do your job better, please feel free to come and talk to me about it."

So Hakstol has a whole new battle in front of him. This season was already one loaded with expectations for the head coach in his first NHL gig. Pressure was on just about everybody coming into 2018-19 as it marked the fifth season under Hextall and the fourth under Hakstol.

Deep down, Holmgren and Scott wanted more progress to date. In fact, the Flyers' lack of progress — even regression — through the first 23 games is a significant reason Hextall lost his job.

The Flyers (10-11-2) entered Tuesday at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, with a dead-last penalty kill (69.7 percent), 25th-ranked power play (15.7 percent) and allowing the NHL's third-most goals per game (3.57).

Last season, the Flyers squeaked into the playoffs for the second time in three years with Hakstol at the helm and were once again outclassed in the first round.

For Hakstol, who knows how much time he'll have. It's not up to Hextall anymore. It's not even in the hands of Holmgren or Scott.

"I'm not looking over my shoulder — I never have, I never do," Hakstol said Monday. "I focus on the job at hand and going forward. So those are decisions that aren't up to me."

This season isn't just about wins, losses and the next game on the schedule.

Saving his job is also on the agenda, if not at the top of it.

If Hakstol can suddenly stem the tide, turn this thing around and win over a complete outsider, it would be his biggest victory yet.

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2020 NHL draft lottery: Rangers win No. 1 pick, also known as the Alexis Lafreniere sweepstakes

2020 NHL draft lottery: Rangers win No. 1 pick, also known as the Alexis Lafreniere sweepstakes

The Metropolitan Division was pretty loaded in 2019-20.

On Monday night, it got even better for the 2020-21 season.

That's because the Rangers won the first overall pick in Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL draft lottery. Alexis Lafreniere, a 6-foot-1, 193-pound winger, is the consensus No. 1 pick. The 18-year-old is a dynamic scorer who put up 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) in 52 games for the QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic during the 2019-20 season.

In the 2019-20 NHL regular season, four Metropolitan Division clubs (Capitals, Flyers, Penguins, Hurricanes) had top-10 point percentages and six (Capitals, Flyers, Penguins, Hurricanes, Islanders, Blue Jackets) finished among the top 15. The Rangers, not exactly lacking talent (Artemi Panarin is a Hart Memorial Trophy finalist and Mika Zibanejad scored 41 goals), were in the top 20 but bowed out of the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament during the best-of-five qualifying round.

Not only is the Metropolitan Division deep, but it has also landed some big picks in recent past. In the 2019 draft, the Devils took Jack Hughes No. 1 overall and the Rangers selected Kaapo Kakko No. 2 overall. In the 2018 draft, the Hurricanes nabbed Andrei Svechnikov with the second overall pick, while the 2017 draft saw Nico Hischier go No. 1 to the Devils and Nolan Patrick No. 2 to the Flyers.

With the 2020 draft tentatively scheduled for Oct. 9-10, the Rangers are expected to add Lafreniere to a young, building picture. For Flyers fans, New York landing the No. 1 pick was probably the lesser of two evils. The Penguins had as fair of a chance (12.5 percent) at Lafreniere but the Rangers were the lucky ones to have their ping-pong ball selected.

The Flyers are happy to not be worrying about the lottery. They open the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday as the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed.

Below is the 2020 draft order for the first 15 picks, while the remaining 16 first-round selections will be determined by the results of the playoffs.

1. Rangers
2. Kings
3. Senators
4. Red Wings
5. Senators
6. Ducks
7. Devils
8. Sabres
9. Wild
10. Jets
11. Predators
12. Panthers
13. Hurricanes
14. Oilers
15. Penguins

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Flyers Talk podcast: What to like and dislike about Canadiens matchup

Flyers Talk podcast: What to like and dislike about Canadiens matchup

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra and Jordan Hall discuss everything about the team's first-round matchup with the Canadiens.

From our series X-factors to the importance of Jakub Voracek's status, let's dive in:

1:30 — We know the Flyers' first-round schedule; what sticks out?

4:05 — Could we see Brian Elliott during the series?

7:30 — Picking our Flyers X-factor

12:05 — Picking our Canadiens X-factor

16:50 — Analyzing the Voracek situation

20:15 — Why we like the Flyers' chances in this series

 26:00 — Why there could be some concerns about this matchup for the Flyers

 28:55 — The start of the series will be crucial

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