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Top takeaways from Hextall's pre-draft press conference

News, notes, quotes & more of the top storylines the Flyers GM discussed with the media

by PhiladelphiaFlyers.com @NHLFlyers / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

1. ONE VERSUS TWO

There are, of course, the consensus No. 1 & 2 players in this year's draft that have dominated the hockey world's storyline. Among most scouts the rankings fluctuate between Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier with NHL's Central Scouting listing Patrick at 1 and Hischier at 2. 

When asked if being in the #2 position was better than the #1 position, Flyers GM Ron Hextall didn't agree, stating it would be better to be in the #1 position because those are good decision to have to make. However Hextall re-iterated to use caution of what public opinion of players are:

"If we go by what all the people say or past drafts… Look at past drafts. Ever see the re-drafts, like five years later? You got a guy that was maybe 20th that should've gone second. You got to be really careful going by public opinion. You have to pick what you think is the best player even though it might not be popular at the time. I'm not hinting at anything there. I'm just hinting saying that if you feel strongly about a player being rated better, maybe he's fifth and he should be rated third… you feel better about taking him, then take him."

That being said, he did admit to having dinner at the NHL Combine with both Patrick and Hischier, which is something not unusual and certainly not limited to just those two players.

"You just get a better feel for them," added Hextall. "We certainly got more information on those two than some other guys, but there were some other guys that we had more time with too. You try and get to know every kid in the draft."

Video: Hextall on making decisions about individual players

2. WHAT'S YOUR POSITION

Beyond the storyline that has dominated the Flyers news cycle with the No. 2 overall pick, the Flyers own 11 draft picks in total, including a number of picks in the second and third rounds which sometimes mistakenly get categorized as not being as valuable as they can turn out to be.

Hextall has reiterated on several occasions that a successful franchise doesn't just hit on their First Round selection, but has to walk away from the draft with several players becoming a crucial part of a team's lineup in the future. Including second overall, the Flyers own four picks in the Top 80 selections in the draft.

The Flyers GM gave more on the expectation and the process of hitting on picks beyond #2…

Video: Hextall on the high expectations for this draft

3. RESTOCK, BECAUSE THE KIDS ARE READY

At the end of season press conference, and long before the club won the draft lottery to pick at No. 2 overall, Hextall made it known that this off-season would be different than in year's past. 

Some prospects taken in previous drafts now have the necessary experience to make the jump to the big club. This year's training camp in September will certainly be interesting based on the fact that there will be positions open for those prospects to fight for, rather than be in a position where they would have to knock out a veteran who currently is slotted into a lineup spot. Thus, making this year's draft so crucial.

"You have to keep the prospects coming. We need entry-level deals. You need young players," said Hextall. "Some of them you're going to use as assets at some point so we need to keep guys coming and like I said at the end of the year, the young defensemen, there's going to be a spot or two available for a young defenseman." 

Video: Hextall on young players in the system

4. SEVEN - THREE - ONE

As mentioned before, with 11 picks the club's philosophy has always been to take the best player available. However, with a top-heavy list of young defensemen, and even more young goaltenders in the pipeline, Hextall said an ideal draft would yield a "7-3-1" - seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender.

"We're not going to pick a goalie if we don't see a goalie as a value pick. If we get a guy where we like the pick and he's still there, then we'll take a goalie, but we're not going to chase a goalie this year. [Defense], if we get two I'm ok with that, if we get four I'm ok with that, but right now if you look at a perfect breakdown you can say 7-3-1… assuming we make all of our picks." 

5. THE FINAL CALL

Hextall gave a little bit of insight on the club's amateur meetings throughout the draft process. From before and after the NHL Combine, to before the team heads to Chicago and up to the day of meetings at the hotel "war room". 

The team of scouts give their opinions on each prospect to formulate and finalize the list, but ultimately the final call is the general manager's and it's Hextall's job to listen to the staff that he's built. A big part of that process is talking things through and sometimes asking the tough questions in order to have the most information needed to make a decision on a player or group of players.  

WATCH: Hextall explains that process below…

Video: Hextall talks about the scout's lists and agenda

TIDBITS: Beyond the storylines a few tidbits to come out of today's availabity were:

* On the Expansion Draft, Hextall was cautious to go into great detail on his strategy, but he did reveal that the club will use the 7-3-1 approach, protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender, rather than eight total skaters and one goaltender: "We're in a reasonable position. We're going to lose a good player, make no mistake." 

* When asked about the goaltending situation Hextall said the club is still looking at options: "Once we figure out the best option, then we'll move on it… You know I don't talk about trades, but I think there's a possibility we could go any way here. It's not clear to me as of yet, certainly Mase [Steve Mason] is still an option and there are other guys out there too."

* Looking not-too-far ahead of September's Training Camp, fans could see more than 1 or 2 rookies make the club next year, but also the possibility of six or more was brought up: "In a perfect world you have two or three rookies on your team next year," said Hextall. "There's a certain excitement and influx of youth that they infect the team with and it's kind of what you want every year… Six is a little much, but if they're the best players and they're going to make you a better team, so be it."

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