Flyers

Ron Hextall: Flyers 'would have liked to have been in' John Tavares free-agent sweepstakes

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Zack Hill, Philadelphia Flyers/USA Today Images

Ron Hextall: Flyers 'would have liked to have been in' John Tavares free-agent sweepstakes

VOORHEES, N.J. — If you thought Ron Hextall never wanted to be in the John Tavares sweepstakes, think again.

The Flyers' general manager made certain to be extra clear Friday when discussing his team's motives in free agency, which opens Sunday. While it sounded like the Flyers wouldn't dole out a long-term deal to a star player this offseason, Hextall offered clarification from when he talked earlier this month.

"I misspoke that day or you guys misunderstood me, I said we weren't going to go long term with a good player. Maybe a great player, we'd look at it," Hextall said with a smile. "I probably misspoke a little bit. We don't want to go long, long term … we'll see where that goes."

So, Tavares? The talk of hockey has surrounded the Islanders' center, who is the biggest name on the free-agent market. According to reports, Tavares' camp is talking to six teams — the Stars, Bruins, Sharks, Maple Leafs, Lightning and Islanders.

Was this the Flyers simply staying away?

"I don't want to mention any names, so I'll just say, we would have liked to have been in there," Hextall said.

The wait on Tavares has had a ripple effect on the entire league.

"I think it's holding up the hockey world a certain amount, for sure," Hextall said.

The Flyers, though, will be completely content with improving at the margins and continuing their build-from-within principles. Hextall will utilize free agency, but likely to fill holes and not chase the big fish just for the sake of doing it.

In late April, he mentioned the desire to add a defenseman with experience to stabilize the back end or another center to improve their depth. The Flyers can certainly improve their bottom six and Hextall hopes to address the penalty kill, as well.

Before making any decisions, the Flyers first look internally.

"We went down our list and we drew a line," Hextall said. "Here's the line where it's not an upgrade from what we have in the system, so we're not going to go out and sign guys to three- or four-year deals that are no better than either the players that we have on our team or the kids that we have that our close to being ready. 

"That's how we've approached it and we're going to stick with that approach. Do we end up with somebody? Yeah, and I guess on the other hand, we could probably end up with nobody because our line is our line and we're not going below it."

Tavares is above the line ... or at least he was.

More on free agency

• How should the Flyers approach free agency?

• Should Flyers chase Riley Nash as 3rd-line center?

• Flyers want to upgrade top 4 — de Haan the guy?

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2020 NHL All-Star Game: Flyers' Travis Konecny shows off his career-high stuff for Metropolitan Division

2020 NHL All-Star Game: Flyers' Travis Konecny shows off his career-high stuff for Metropolitan Division

BOX SCORE

Travis Konecny stormed into the NHL All-Star break already with a new career high in assists. The Flyers' winger has 26 helpers and is projected to finish with 44, a sign of significant growth in a breakout 2019-20 season for the 22-year-old.

On Saturday night in the 2020 All-Star Game at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Konecny put his facilitating on display during the 3-on-3 action featuring the world's best players. He finished with three assists in the Metropolitan Division's 9-5 semifinal loss to the Atlantic Division.

"I had a lot of fun," Konecny said Saturday, via Flyers senior director of public relations and communications Zack Hill. "It was pretty funny, I was watching my parents in the stands and my mom didn't understand why we weren't playing like a real game.

"It's my first game and it's her first time seeing it. I don't know if she was expecting me to be blocking shots and forechecking, stuff like that. I had a lot of fun with it.

"It was a really cool experience, getting to play with some players, too, that I usually won't get the chance to play with was fun."

Konecny playing in his first All-Star Game at 22 years old should be exciting for the Flyers. Claude Giroux was 23 years old for his first All-Star Game back in 2011. The future looks bright for Konecny, who signed a new six-year, $33 million contract back in mid-September.

With 17 goals and 43 points through 47 games, Konecny is eight goals and seven points away from setting career highs across the board.

A breakout, indeed.

Here are more sights and scenes from Konecny's first All-Star Game:

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Why Flyers fans should be hopeful about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Why Flyers fans should be hopeful about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Today, we break down why Flyers fans should be hopeful for the post-All-Star break stretch. On Sunday, we’ll look at the reasons for concern.

Through 50 games, the Flyers have done two important things. They’ve played well within the division and have dominated at home. 

Those two trends bode well for after the All-Star break because divisional games become much bigger and confidence at home is paramount as the pressure builds.

The Flyers are 17-4-4 at home and 9-2-3 against Metropolitan foes. The marks are notable given the Flyers fell sorely short in those areas last season, when they finished 19-18-4 at home and 10-16-2 in divisional play.

Another positive is the Flyers are getting healthier after the break. Shayne Gostisbehere (knee) could be back Friday in the Flyers’ first game out of the bye week, while Carter Hart (abdominal strain) is expected to return not long after.

But what might be the Flyers’ most convincing piece of evidence for optimism is how they’ve performed against the NHL’s best teams. The Flyers have shown they can play with any club, which is huge for their own belief moving forward.

The Flyers are 11th in the NHL standings at 27-17-6. They've gone 9-5-3 against the top-10 teams and 5-1-1 vs. the top four.

Head coach Alain Vigneault has a history of taking teams to the playoffs, and doing so in Year 1 on the job. At his previous three stops (Canadiens, Canucks, Rangers), each of his first seasons produced playoff bids and at least one series victory.

Vigneault’s track record will be tested over the Flyers’ final 32 games.

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More on the Flyers