Flyers Notes: Ron Hextall working toward protected list in expansion draft

Flyers Notes: Ron Hextall working toward protected list in expansion draft

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."

Mason situation
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."

NHL Notes: Blues lose Patrik Berglund until December after shoulder surgery

NHL Notes: Blues lose Patrik Berglund until December after shoulder surgery

ST. LOUIS -- Blues center Patrik Berglund is expected to be out until December after having surgery to repair a dislocated left shoulder.

The Blues say Berglund was injured during an offseason conditioning program in Sweden and flew to St. Louis for Tuesday's procedure. The team called it a successful surgery.

The 29-year-old Berglund scored a career-high 23 goals and finished with 34 points in 2016-17, adding four assists in 11 playoff games.

Berglund has spent his entire nine-year NHL career with the Blues, scoring 296 points in 637 regular-season games.

St. Louis fell to Nashville in the second round of the playoffs last season.

Worker dies after fall from Red Wings' new arena
DETROIT -- A worker has died after falling 75 feet (23 meters) at the Little Caesars Arena worksite north of downtown Detroit.

Deputy Detroit Fire Commissioner David Fornell says the 46-year-old man was in cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived about 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Other workers had started cardiopulmonary resuscitation which first responders continued. The man was taken to a Detroit hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Fornell says officials were told the man was an electrical worker and may have fallen from a catwalk. He says the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration likely will investigate.

The arena will be home to the NHL's Detroit Red Wings and the NBA's Pistons. It is scheduled to open this fall.

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Brian Elliott

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Brian Elliott

Each day this week until July 1, the day free agency begins, Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile the five best goalie options for the Flyers on the open market and project their likelihood of signing.

Brian Elliott
Age: 32
Height: 6-2
Weight: 209
Last team: Calgary Flames
2016-17 cap hit: $2.5 million

Scouting report
Drafted in the ninth round (291st overall) of the loaded 2003 draft by the Ottawa Senators, Elliott didn’t find much success in the NHL until he wound up in St. Louis in 2011-12.

Elliott joined Ottawa full time in January of the 2008-09 season and played his way into splitting goaltending duties with Alex Auld. In 2009-10, he was 29-18-4 with a 2.57 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. He was traded to Colorado at the 2010-11 trade deadline for Craig Anderson. He played just 12 games for the Avalanche.

After Colorado declined to qualify him, Elliott signed a one-year deal with the Blues in 2011. He shared the net with Jaroslav Halak and ended up having his best season in the league. In 2011-12, Elliott was 23-10-4 with a 1.56 GAA and .922 save percentage.

He was an All-Star in 2011-12, too. He ended up playing four more seasons in St. Louis, but the Blues eventually moved on from him with the emergence of Jake Allen. The Blues traded him to the Flames at the 2016 draft but lasted just one season in Calgary.

Last season, Elliott struggled with the Flames before being relegated to the team’s backup. He eventually did regain the No. 1 job but didn’t do enough to please the Flames’ front office. He was 26-18-3 with a 2.55 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.

Dougherty's projection
Elliott is one of the options on the market that I think would fit well with what the Flyers are looking for, and that is a proven veteran who has shown he can be a part of a tandem.

I know he didn’t pan out in Calgary and missed his opportunity at a big payout, which could very well could be his final chance to get a decent contract. I was a fan of him in St. Louis, especially when paired with Allen and Halak. I think he’s a good tandem goalie.

Financially, I think he’ll be a fit. I don’t see him getting much of a raise from his $2.5 million cap hit he carried on his previous contract. And I don’t think this goalie market is going to drive that price up, either. There aren’t many teams in the market for goalies.

So for what he’ll cost — probably in the $2.5 million range, maybe a little more — Elliott would be a solid option for the Flyers, but he may find more opportunity in Winnipeg, which reportedly is looking for a veteran goalie to pair with Connor Hellebuyck, 24.

I would imagine an Elliott-Michal Neuvirth pair would certainly give enough stability in net for the Flyers to compete next season and creep back into the playoffs.

For the Flyers, Elliott is an attractive option and one they’ll likely reach out to. Whether he comes to Philadelphia is something we’ll find out soon enough.

I still feel Jonathan Bernier is the early favorite but Elliott would make for a good signing.

At the right price, of course.

Hall's projection
Elliott fits the Flyers' plans here.
 
He's a 32-year-old veteran that has backed up and split time in net for much of his nine seasons in the NHL. At this stage of his career, he might not be looking for much more — he would likely be open to a cost-efficient deal in the ballpark of two years, as he's never had a higher average annual value than $2,500,000.
 
Ever since joining the Blues in 2011-12, Elliott has been pretty darn good. His 2.55 goals-against average with the Flames last season was his worst since 2010-11, which shows you his reliability. He also has a relatively clean health history, he's proven to be durable and also owns plenty of experience, including 41 postseason appearances.
 
This just makes a lot of sense for the Flyers and their current state. Elliott helps now and shouldn't block the future.

Paone's projection
The thought of Elliott in net for the Flyers next season makes sense for a few reasons.

First, he fits the mold of what Hextall and his staff are looking for. They want a netminder with some experience who can be trusted to step in and carry stretches work if needed. Elliott has the experience and he's played long stretches during his time in both St. Louis and Calgary. And with Neuvrith's injury history, the Flyers could very well need someone to step in for long stretches. So check that box off.

Second, he'll come at the right price for Hextall and the Flyers' brass after a tough season in Calgary. His season fizzled after the Flames gave him the chance to be the No. 1 guy on a talented team. But the reality is that lowered the price and will likely land Elliott a shorter-term deal, both of which can only pique the Flyers' interest some more. Check both those box off.

Third, Neuvirth would be a clear No. 1 option ahead of Elliott. That's not meant to slight Elliott, but, if you ask me, Neuvirth is the better of the two. I'm not the biggest supporter of full-on platoons because I feel confidence is of the utmost importance for a goalie and it's so much easier to be confident and get in a groove when a goalie doesn't have to constantly look over his shoulder. And that would be the case here as Neuvirth would be the guy in that situation.

Yes, Elliott's best seasons came behind a sturdy St. Louis defense that featured the likes of Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester, among others. And while he may not be the sexiest option on the market, he is a sensible option for the Flyers.