Ron Hextall has one month to decide how he’ll proceed with a team that has made a rapid ascension up the Metropolitan Division standings. With the Feb. 26 trade deadline looming, the Flyers have 14 games to help solidly their playoff position, which would give the general manager a little more clarity into the legitimacy of the team's current stretch of solid play. Two years ago, when the Flyers advanced to the postseason in Dave Hakstol’s first year as head coach, Hextall was content riding with his current roster without making a single upgrade. You could even debate Hextall created addition by subtraction once he dealt Vinny Lecavalier and Luke Schenn to the Los Angeles Kings for Jordan Weal and a third-round pick, clearing roughly $8 million in cap space. “I guess filling a hole and upgrading might be a little different,” Hextall said Wednesday. “I’m not going to say ‘no’ because we’re going to try and get better if we can get better.” Which leads to a more pressing question. What area(s) can the Flyers improve through a trade? For depth purposes, the Flyers could use another defenseman, but so would every team and they don’t come cheap. Personally, the Flyers need more flexibility at the forward position, in particular, at center. Sean Couturier has been a rock-solid No. 1 and Nolan Patrick is an emerging No. 2. Valtteri Filppula, who Hextall added at last season’s deadline, has proven to be a serviceable third-line center who plays reliably defensively and can easily adapt to the wing, but his lack of speed will become a factor in the playoffs. If one of those three suffers an injury, then the Flyers would be forced to shuffle personnel to make up for the loss. Hakstol could move Claude Giroux back to the middle, but considering how well he’s played working in tandem with Couturier and now Travis Konecny, you'd prefer to keep Giroux at left wing. Scott Laughton has the ability to contribute more minutes, but he’s settled into the role of a fourth-line center, who can also contribute on the penalty kill. Hakstol has even utilized Weal and Jori Lehtera at the center position at different times, but those moves are not ideal either. Weal has speed, Lehtera has size, preferably you would like a center who combines both attributes.
Flyers should FINALLY add at NHL trade deadline
NBC Sports Philadelphia | Jan 25