PITTSBURGH -- When asked Friday night at Heinz Field whether the Flyers would be buyers or sellers at next Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, Ron Hextall didn’t flinch.
He was adamant he won’t be a buyer. He also intimated he’s looking to sell and that these next two games before the deadline could impact that decision.
“We’ll see,” Hextall said. “We’re not buying. I’ve said that for a while now. We’re not buying. We’ll see where we’re at in a couple days. Like I said, tomorrow’s a big game. I have ideas and we’ll execute them depending.
“We’ll be making calls and getting calls and we’ll see what’s out there and see where we’re at as a team in the standings and make the appropriate moves.”
The Flyers also play Colorado on Tuesday, the day before the deadline.
“It could have some effect, it could,” Hextall said on whether the next two games will impact his decision-making at the deadline. “We’ll watch the standings closely and what we’re doing tomorrow night.”
Hextall made his comments Friday night while the Flyers practiced on the outdoor ice at Heinz Field for Saturday’s Stadium Series game against the Penguins.
The most obvious candidates for the Flyers to move at the deadline are defensemen Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto and goalie Michal Neuvirth.
More than 10 NHL clubs have been scouting the Flyers regularly over the past month, home and away (see story).
Hextall has been saying for months he doesn’t like to make decisions based on “small samples.” Yet the Flyers have been very inconsistent the entire season, save for a 10-game win streak between November and mid-December.
They are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Of those seven losses, they have scored one or no goals six times. What does that say?
“It tells me we have to be more consistent,” Hextall replied. “It tells me what we’re capable of and at times we’re not playing anywhere near to that level. That’s been frustrating.
“I like our team. We’ve got some good players, but the consistency part, we have to level that out for sure, especially from now to the end of the year.”
Some NHL clubs -- Pittsburgh last season and Chicago this season -- have promoted scores of younger players onto their roster. The Flyers promoted Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny this season.
Why not promote some players from the Phantoms right now?
“Not to make us a worse team,” Hextall said. “If we make something happen and if we can bring someone up and we take a lateral move, yeah, that’s kind of where you want to get to.
“That’s why you don’t want to bring kids up, 20-year-olds that aren’t ready to play. You mentioned Pitt there, their guys that helped them last year are all 23 now except for the goalie. Keep that in mind. They were kids, but 23-year-old kids.”
The Phantoms are having a good season. They could go far in the AHL playoffs. Hextall said that wouldn’t prevent him from bringing players up, even if it hurt the Phantoms’ chances.
“Is it a factor? I guess at the bottom,” Hextall said. “My job is to do what’s best for the Flyers. Part of what’s best for the Flyers is having the best team down there that we can have to grow kids in a winning environment.
“That’s part of it. I wouldn’t not bring a kid up that’s ready to play because he’d be leaving the Phantoms, assuming you have a roster spot and cap space and the things that come along with that.”
Jordan Weal (concussion symptoms) could play Saturday Hextall said. ... Konecny (ankle and knee) is ahead of schedule and could be back in four weeks or less instead of six weeks. He skated at least four times this week on his own.