VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers have until 5 p.m. Saturday to submit their protected list to the NHL, prior to next week's expansion draft by the Vegas Golden Knights.
General manager Ron Hextall said his list wasn't that hard to figure out once he elected to choose the 7-3-1 option — seven forwards, three defensemen, one goalie.
"That's the way it works for us," Hextall said Friday. "It hasn't been that difficult to be honest. There's a lot of teams with harder decisions than we have to make."
The hardest decision would seem to be in goal. Do you protect veteran Michal Neuvirth or young Anthony Stolarz, who is recovering from major knee surgery and likely would not be selected if exposed?
"Is it difficult?" Hextall said when asked about that decision. "It's more philosophical, I guess. You got an older guy or a younger guy."
Hextall said the Flyers would wait until the last minute to submit their list.
"We're not going to hand it in until we have to hand it in because you don't know what's going to come your way," Hextall said. "We're going to wait until close to the deadline and we'll go then. Something happens between now and then, I have no idea."
The pending expansion draft has shifted priorities while diverting attention usually paid to other offseason matters.
"It's been a different offseason," Hextall said. "It seems like everyone's a little bit hesitant to do things and then bang, one [Jonathan Drouin trade on Thursday].
"Everybody's so focused on the expansion draft, it's almost taken away from focusing on September, which is usually what we're focused on.
"It's been different for sure. Again, we're in a reasonable position. We're gonna lose a good player, make no mistake. Whoever we lose, we're gonna lose a good player."
Tampa Bay had both cap issues and protection issues for the expansion draft and was forced to trade Drouin to Montreal. The Flyers don't face that situation.
"There's only a certain amount of teams that can take guys on," he said. "I think a lot of teams are approaching it like, 'If I trade one guy, I'm gonna lose another guy. Now I'm losing two guys.'
"Is the package you get for a trade worth taking two guys out of your lineup? Most teams are approaching it like that. There's a couple I think that aren't and probably shouldn't be."
Hextall denied what agent Anton Thun told the Philadelphia Inquirer this week, that any chance of re-signing goalie Steve Mason for next season has ended.
"Absolutely not," Hextall said. "We haven't given him an offer, but we've talked. Maybe a week ago? Ten days ago, somewhere in that range. I thought we had a good conversation."
As of now, Neuvirth is the only veteran goalie on the roster. It's possible — perhaps likely — that Hextall attempts to deal for a goalie with one or two years left on his contract at the NHL draft or even trade for the rights of an upcoming free agent.
The Flyers think their future netminder is two years away from playing in the NHL. Hextall needs a stopgap solution. Maybe he finds it at the next week's draft in Chicago.
"I don't talk about trades, but I think there's a possibility it could go anywhere," he said. "It's not clear to me as yet. Certainly Mase is still an option, there's other guys out there, too."
Weal, Vecchione update
Talks to re-sign Jordan Weal and Mike Vecchione continue.
Weal is obviously more complicated because he is an unrestricted free agent. The Flyers have agreed on contract length, but not the money.
"I don't know," Hextall said. "I don't know what they're doing ... apparently the agent said something, but we've had conversations obviously. Last time I talked to him, it's in the same spot. Nothing new.
"Vegas can do what they want and Weal's a free agent, so he can do what he wants. What are you going to do?"
As for Vecchione, who is restricted: "We haven't even qualified any of those guys yet," Hextall said. "That's not a focus right now, any of the restricted."