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Hextall focused on building Flyers through draft

by Mike G. Morreale

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is a staunch advocate of building an organization by way of the NHL Draft.

"Your core pieces, or your homegrown pieces, are big," Hextall said during a pre-2014 NHL Draft press conference at the Flyers practice facility on Tuesday.

The 2014 NHL Draft will be held at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia with the first round on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN) and the remaining six rounds on Saturday (10 a.m. ET; NHL Network).

During the 2013-14 season, the Flyers featured three players drafted and developed within their system in forwards Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Zac Rinaldo. Forwards Matt Read and Michael Raffl were undrafted free-agent acquisitions also groomed within the organization. The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings had 11 draft picks in their lineup and the Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers had 10 homegrown players, including undrafted free-agent acquisitions Mats Zuccarello, Dan Girardi and Cam Talbot.

"Those homegrown pieces are players who have the Flyers tattoo on them, who believe in your organization," Hextall said. "They are players who enjoy playing with your organization; those are the guys you want. You could add a piece here and there through free agency, but if you want your core built from within, it must happen through the draft."

Hextall said it is critical those drafted players have good character. He pointed to the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner as an example.

"You have to look for players having that commitment to becoming a player," Hextall said. "You have to seek players willing to put in the time and effort and doing what it takes to be an NHL player. Look at Justin Williams, a good example. He's still ticking; there's a kid who always wanted to play the game, always put the time in and dedication. That's the type of character we're looking for, a player willing to put in the time and effort. Guys who really yearn to play night in and night out.

"There are a lot of players in the American Hockey League that don't make the NHL because of their character."


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