It took the Flyers 46 years to hold their first NHL draft and every indication is things went exceeding well at the Wells Fargo Center when it ended Saturday.
There wasn’t a seat to be had during Friday’s raucous first round in which Flyers fans had the building rocking and even managed to bring out some one-liners from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
Saturday wasn’t packed, but the fans who were there were vocal all day.
This was Ron Hextall's first draft as general manager and Paul Holmgren's first as team president (see story).
“It’s an interesting event,” Holmgren said. “You are looking at the future of the team and franchise and it’s still exciting to be involved. I thought our fans were tremendous.
“Their support [Friday] night, the emotion in the building was great. I had a lot of comments from a lot of teams about that.”
Indeed. Visiting teams' opinions of how the Flyers, NHL and Philadelphia handled the event were all positive.
“Our staff did a tremendous job,” Holmgren said. “I was really proud of our organization [Friday] night and we had another good turnout today, which is normally a light day. Last night was incredible.”
Hextall was unable to move up in the draft Friday (see story) and also unable to trade center Vinny Lecavalier, who has four years left on his contract with a $4.5 million cap hit.
A number of sources said the Flyers left no stones unturned in trying to move the veteran center, who is owed a $2 million bonus on July 1.
At this point, if the Flyers can’t move him after paying the bonus next week, their only choice would be to buy him out at 2/3 salary, which several sources believe might be Hextall’s last option.
The buyout would be over eight years and and his cap hit this year would be $1.5 million if the Flyers were to buy him out.
"The cap just went down $2.1 million," one source said, "the Flyers are over the cap, so the buyout here is less than the amount the cap went down and far less than they would be paying him without it."
Hextall will continue to seek a trade. He would have given Lecavalier away for a draft pick if he could have gotten one here.
“I didn’t expect anything to happen,” Hextall said.
Jason Akeson and Tye McGinn remain restricted free agents going into free agency, but Hextall said both would be qualified. He was non-committal on goalie Cal Heeter, which likely implies Heeter won’t be re-signed.
A number of former NHLers saw their son taken in the draft: Paul Reinhart’s son, Sam, went to Buffalo; Michael Nylander’s son, William, to Toronto; Sami Kapanen’s son, Kasperi, to Pittsburgh; Claude Lemieux’s son, Brendan, to Buffalo; Donald Audette’s son, Daniel, to Montreal; Ted Donato’s son, Ryan, to Boston; and Glen Wesley’s son, Josh, to Carolina.
There were 210 players drafted; 77 from Canada, 67 from the U.S.; 27 from Sweden and 13 from Russia as the top four. The 67 Americans represents 32 percent of all players drafted and is the best showing ever, which has to please USA Hockey.