Flyers GM Ron Hextall talked with the media on several topics, including the recent announcement of a one-year contract extension for d-man Kimmo Timonen. Below is the transcript of the conference call...
On the decision to sign Timonen
It’s pretty easy when you can get a player like Kimmo under contract. But I think the biggest key is whether Kimmo thinks he can play and whether Kimmo has enough in the tank to go through another offseason and be in shape in September. I think when you talk to a lot of guys that have been around a long time, that’s the hardest part. I’ve probably had half a dozen conversations with Kimmo, and I really wanted to know if he was ready to come back and play, and had what it takes to train and get through an 82-game schedule. He took a couple weeks, took his time… went away, came back. One day he came in the gym and worked out, and came and saw me that day and he said I’m leaning towards playing. I kind of let the process play out because sometimes it takes time. Over the last two or three conversations, he’s convinced that he’s got enough in the tank to come back and play.
Did Erik Gustafsson’s departure create more urgency from your end?
No. That really didn’t play a part. We all watched Kimmo this year. He’s still a very effective player. Obviously he’s maybe not 25 years old anymore, but he’s a real smart player. That really didn’t come into my thought process whatsoever. It was more if Kimmo thinks he can play. Based on what I saw this past season, he can help us. He’s a good mentor for the young players, and he’s a stabilizing factor for us on the back line. So no, that didn’t come into play.
On the terms of the deal
I’m not going to discuss the terms of the deal. What I will say is that Kimmo understood the situation we’re in. I will say to his credit that the first time he talked to me about coming back and playing, he said I understand the situation we’re in, and in saying that, I want to play for the Philadelphia Flyers and nowhere else. He could have at least used the leverage to try and get a little bit more, and he didn’t. He’s very up front. I dealt with him and his agent both, and they were gentlemen. Like I said, there was no doubt right from the start Kimmo wanted to sign with the Flyers.
Does this have any impact on what happens at the draft?
The hard part here was to try to fit a player of Kimmo’s caliber in given the space that we have left and given the type of minutes that we expect him to play. When you look at that and what we have left under the cap, and the minutes we can expect Kimmo to play, it kind of became a no-brainer for us. Does it give us a little more flexibility? I’m not sure. We’ve got six NHL defensemen right now that we’re comfortable with. Flexibility all depends on what’s out there otherwise. Does it mean we’ll move a defenseman, no. Does it mean we won’t move a defenseman, no. I can’t predict what the future is or what’s out there. I know this – I feel very comfortable that he’s under contract. He did a real fair deal with us, and again he stressed the fact that he did want to play another year and also realized he could have gotten more money on the open market, and did not want to go down that road. Obviously he’s a loyal person and he’s the type of player that we want.
What do you expect his role to be?
Kimmo’s going to dictate that, in part. We had a wide range of conversations, and we had conversations on different things like roles, and where he sees himself and where he fits. We talked everything through where at no point this year is there going to be Kimmo being upset or us being upset or what not. We talked everything through pretty well. Kimmo’s play is going to dictate his minutes, just like any other player on the team.
Are you guys content now with what you have on the left wing?
We’ll upgrade at any position we can upgrade. Whether it’s left wing, center, right wing, defense or goaltending, if we find an upgrade, we’re going to look at it. With Pierre-Edouard, we like the player. We think he’s a versatile guy. He can play center, he can play wing, he can kill penalties. He’s got a decent skill level. We like the player and that’s why we signed him. We’re going to have to have some lower-salaried guys probably in our lineup, and we think he’s a guy there who has a chance.
On this year’s draft
Well, I think there’s probably not a strong draft on defense. There’s a lot of good forwards. I think it’s a good draft. All the amateur scouts, and I’m not necessarily saying ours, but they typically say when it’s a year like this it’s not a great draft. It’s probably an average draft this year. You get the one bumper crop maybe every five years that everybody says is a good draft, but that’s not normal every year. I think it’s an average draft, and there’s certainly some good players in it.
Did you interview Anthony DeAngelo or Kasperi Kapanen at the combine?
We interviewed a lot of guys. I don’t really want to get into that, but those are two of the guys, yes.
On Vincent Lecavalier
I’m not going to discuss that. I’ve had discussions with [Kent Hughes] but I’m not going to discuss where it’s going because quite frankly I don’t know. It’s something we’ll deal with internally here and when we come up with something we’ll let you guys know.
Any update on Brayden Schenn or Ray Emery?
I’ve been playing phone tag with Craig [inaudible] on Brayden. We’ve probably gone back and forth three or four times each. I have not talked to him as of yet, but hopefully in the next few days we’ll have our first discussion. Brayden’s our top priority in terms of wanting to get a guy signed, but there’s no real timeline there where you say this has got to happen by July 15 or July 30. It’s something that who knows how long it could go on. I’ll tell you guys up front right now, I’m not going to negotiate through the media. I’ll give you comments, but I’m not going to give details on where it’s at or where I think it’s going.
[On Emery] we’re waiting on a lot of things. Kimmo’s in now so that gives us a little bit more cost certainty. We don’t even know what the final cap number is going to be. So we have some things we have to work through here before we get to a point where we can look at other pieces or other people. So Ray right now is on hold.