Philadelphia Flyers: Hextall’s Smart Trade is Coming to Fruition

Sep 21, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Travis Konecny (80) during a preseason game against the New York Islanders at PPL Center. The Flyers defeated the Islanders, 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 21, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Travis Konecny (80) during a preseason game against the New York Islanders at PPL Center. The Flyers defeated the Islanders, 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

On May 7, 2014, Philadelphia Flyers’ legend Ron Hextall was named General Manager of his old team.  On March 2 of the following year, Hextall orchestrated a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning that will have a massive impact on the coming 2016-17 season.

In the early morning hours of March 2, 2015, former Philadelphia Flyers’ defenseman Braydon Coburn awoke to the news that he had been traded overnight to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Coburn was one of two remaining players from the Philadelphia Flyers’ 2010 Stanley Cup team, had been with the team for nine years, and was one of the longest tenured athletes in Philadelphia at that time. Although Coburn had a limited no-trade clause on his contract, Tampa Bay was one of the few teams where he was willing to be dealt.

Coburn was a solid defensive contributor during his time with the Philadelphia Flyers, but the move made sense for both teams. Tampa Bay, a Stanley Cup contender that season, got a consistent blue liner with puck moving ability and the Flyers, who were still rebuilding, received D-man Radko Gudas to replace Coburn as well as an extra first round draft pick, a very rare occurrence in the NHL. The deal also opened up a not insignificant amount of cap space for the Flyers, as Coburn’s cap hit the next season ended up at $4.5m and Gudas’ was only $992k.

More from Philadelphia Flyers

Why is this information relevant now, over a year later, you may be asking yourself. The reason it is not only relevant but very important is that this year the Philadelphia Flyers will begin to feel the extremely positive impacts of that trade. Last year Gudas solidified himself as a player worth holding onto and was rewarded with a 4-year extension worth about $3.35M AAV. He is not a high scorer but he played the most full strength minutes of any Flyers defenseman last season and exhibited smart play and solid puck movement.

Expect to see Gudas get a significant amount of minutes this season, especially if prospects Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim make moves up to the main roster, as their minutes will be highly limited at first. Gudas is still quite young and has a lot of room to develop, unlike Coburn who will turn 32 this season.

Hindsight is 20/20, so we now know that this trade turned out well for the Philadelphia Flyers because they got a pretty comparable defenseman and opened up some cap space. However, this isn’t even close to the greatest benefit the Flyers scored in this transaction. In a move that has only

happened 25 times in NHL history, the Lightning gave the Flyers the rights to their first-round pick, with a first overall pick protection clause. The Lightning ended up making a fantastic playoff run that ended in a Stanley Cup Finals defeat against the Chicago Blackhawks, netting the Flyers the 29th overall pick in addition to the 7th overall pick they already had.

With the 7th overall pick, the Philadelphia Flyers selected phenom blueliner Ivan Provorov, who I profiled here a few weeks back. However, the team still wanted to net a quality forward and Hextall orchestrated a quick power move in order to move their pick up and get the dynamic forward they were looking for. The Flyers ended up exchanging the 29th overall pick as well as the 61st overall pick, which they received from the Blackhawks earlier that season as part of the Kimmo Timonen trade, for the 24th overall pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Hextall made this trade with a particular player in mind, and the Philadelphia Flyers used the pick to acquire then 18-year-old Canadian Travis Konecny. Konecny is a versatile forward, able to play either right

wing or center effectively. In additional to his blistering speed, Konecny possesses fantastic puck handling skills, admirable aggression, and a strong will and ability to score. After being drafted by the Flyers, Konecny played the 2015-2016 season in the OHL playing the firs

Philadelphia Flyers
Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Travis Konecny on stage after being selected as the number twenty-four overall pick to the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

t half of the season with the Ottawa 67’s and the latter half with the Sarnia Sting.

Konecny proved his worth last season, netting 30 goals and 71 assists in 60 regular season games, averaging an impressive 1.68 points per game. Most impressive is the fact that 23 of his goals came in the final 31 games of the regular season.

Konecny also stood out at the recent Flyers Development camp where he impressed coaches with his improved defensive play and bigger size, he gained 9 pounds and now weighs in at a solid 183 lbs.

Konecny will certainly be in the cross hairs at the upcoming training camp this fall, expect to see him pushing for a roster spot this season.

Next: Philadelphia Flyers: An Offensive Defense

Overall, Hextall has done a great job as GM so far and continues to make shrewd, patient decisions that pay off in the long run. With this trade, as well as the dish of Nick Grossmann to the Phoenix Coyotes which also dumped Chris Pronger‘s contract on the Yotes, Hextall has proven himself to be a competent GM to whom Flyers fans should give their trust.