Following the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery in Toronto, Flyers GM Ron Hextall talked to the media via conference call to discuss the results and the team receiving the seventh overall pick in the NHL Draft…
Thoughts on the lottery
"It’s a little disappointing, us along with a lot of other teams obviously. My way of looking at things the last few days is if we stay at seven that’s a positive too. When you look at it, we’re at seven, and you never know if we’d moved back to eight what player wouldn’t have been there. So we’ll take seven and we’ll get a good player there. The other thing is sometimes when you think about a number one pick, if it’s in your conference or the other conference, you tend to want it in the other conference. So there’s some positives here as well."
Do you think there’s a shot you’d package both number ones and try to move up?
"I have no idea. I can’t imagine Edmonton’s going to want to trade this pick, but I guess you never know. I think if you ask every team in the league if they would want the number one pick this year, everybody would say yes. If it’s out there, other teams would probably take a run at it."
On possibly moving up to a pick other than #1
"It’s probably a little bit too early at this point. We’ve got our meetings coming up, and once we get through those meetings, that’ll tell a little bit more of whether it would be worth it. You kind of try to put two faces on two picks and you put those two faces against the one and you make that decision assuming the other team is willing to do something. We’ll always look at moving up and moving back every year. Whether it’s possible or not, who knows."
Is the number seven pick this year because this draft is deep better than other years?
"Oh absolutely. There’s no question. Our guys have a lot of experience and they’re saying it, and everybody in the hockey world is saying it. I think I’ve seen most of the top 12 players out there. There’s a lot of good players in this draft. There really is. It’s going to be one of those that when we look back in a few years, there’s going to be a lot of really good players coming out of the first round."
You’ve said the draft is loaded with forwards. Would you lean towards an offensive player because you have four really good prospects on defense?
"If things are equal there, we will. If there’s a defenseman on the board and a forward and we have them really close, we would probably lean towards the forward. But until the names fall really, you don’t really know. We’ll have our list and we’ll be prepared, and we’ll make a decision at that point. When you look at our prospects we’re a little bit heaver on defense than we are up front."
With the overall depth of the draft, was it important to pick up extra assets this year?
"It was important. One of my goals going into actually last year in the offseason but one of the goals I had was to fill the rounds we didn’t have picks in. I think we didn’t have a second or a third, and we were able to do that plus something. We’re happy where we’re at. We did want picks. Getting the first I think this year when you start to see the players that are out there became a priority for us, and we were fortunate enough to find someone who was willing… obviously we gave up a pretty darn good player too, but that’s the way it goes, that’s where we’re at, and that’s where Tampa was at. We’re happy with the number of picks we have, certainly."
Do you have any superstitions you were following today?
"My lucky number is number 7. I’m thinking we’re at 7, I was kind of thinking maybe today was the day for us. Obviously I was wrong."
Are you against drafting a guy who would have a chance to play right away out of Europe or something?
"No. We’ve talked about that in recent years and the way it is right now, you get players or free agents when they’re 27 years old, the sooner they’re ready to play, it can be a positive. It comes into the equation, but there’s a lot of things in the equation – OK this player could play right away but his upside is here, whereas this player’s going to take more time but his upside is here. You can’t really define it. It’s more of a feel than anything else. You make your decision on a lot of little factors, and certainly that’s a tough one – ready now vs. ready in two or three years. If the upside is a decent amount higher than the guy who’s ready in two or three years you tend to look that way, but if the upside is close, you probably look at it the other way."
On the best player available vs. beefing up forwards
"I think we have more forwards coming than people think, but just the same, I agree with you guys that we’re heavier on defense than we are up front. I think our weakest position on our depth chart is probably in net, so we’ve got to keep that in mind too. In saying that, at 7, there’s a lot of forwards this year. So there’s certainly a good chance we’ll take a forward."
Out of those top dozen, would you say there are people who can play right away?
"Yeah, there’s a good number this year that if they’re not ready to play, they’re going to be close. I hate to say, but there’s certainly more than one or two."
Generally speaking, if there’s one area that’s a bigger concern heading into a draft, would it be size or skating?
"There’s a lot of things you judge in a player. Obviously skate’s one and size is another, but there’s a lot of things – intangibles, obviously, and hockey sense. There’s a lot of things. You can’t just say size or skating. They’re both a big part of the game today, especially if you’re watching the playoffs, but there’s so much more to judge a player on."