Flyers GM Hextall is open to trades
General manager Ron Hextall says he'll make any deal that helps his inconsistent team improve.
GLENDALE, Ariz. - Ron Hextall isn't taking the bait.
Even winning all three games to finish out this seasonlong, eight-game odyssey would not cause him to change course - despite a few mood-altering wins along the way. Hextall knows the inconsistent Flyers need reshaping.
That's why the general manager said this week he would be open to a trade if a meaningful opportunity presented itself.
"If we can help our team in any way, we'll do it," Hextall said. "You can't be in my position and stop because you like the way things are going. If you make the assessment that someone is going to help your team, you'll do it."
Trade talks may heat up again soon. The NHL's holiday roster freeze is over. And now as the schedule progresses, more teams will find themselves falling out of the playoff mix.
Although devoid of top-end talent, the Flyers have healthy depth on defense - including a few contracts that may be palatable for opposing managers since they will not be strictly "rental" players. Braydon Coburn, Luke Schenn and Nick Grossmann all have another year left; Michael Del Zotto, Nick Schultz and Carlo Colaiacovo have their deals expire at the end of this season.
"We've got to be more consistent. It's our biggest issue this year," Hextall said. "We're eight points out because of our inconsistency. It's something that we as a group and a team has to be better."
For the first time since Sean Couturier made his debut a few months after he was drafted eighth overall in 2011, Craig Berube admitted Couturier's overall development has been slowed by his original defense-first deployment.
"The first year, he was a fourth-line guy, a checking-line guy, a penalty killer. We had been using him as that and sometimes you get a little bit comfortable," Berube said Monday. "I think there's games where he plays too safe. I want him to be on his toes more. I want him to be more aggressive but not give up the defensive responsibilities.
"He does have to get more aggressive at times. He has to have more of an attack mentality, he has to want to shoot the puck more. When he does, and he's strong on the puck, he's a real good player."
Couturier, now 22 and in his fourth season, has 101 points in 241 career games. His defensive prowess is unquestionable. He needs to continue to push the pace offensively. He still has significant trade value, but as he approaches the magical 300-game mark, many managers around the league believes players simply are what they appear to be by that point.
"No, we didn't ruin him," Berube said. "He can do both. He's coming around. He is. I think this year, I've been putting their line in more offensive situations and not [line] matching so much. I think it takes time. I think he can still be more consistent."
Defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who has missed the entire season since doctors discovered multiple blood clots in his leg and lungs in August, is scheduled to have a follow up CT scan in mid-January.
This will be Timonen's first scan since he was diagnosed in August. The scans, which will then be read by multiple experts to try to find a conclusive opinion, will decide whether Timonen will continue his career or retire.
"I don't think it's going to be a short process," Hextall said. "We'll go through all these steps. I don't really want to speculate, because I believe if the clots are still there, he is done."
Even if the clots have disappeared on his scan, Timonen will need to decide whether it is worth risking his life for one last shot at glory. Doctors discovered a Protein-C deficiency, evident also in his mother, which makes him susceptible to more clotting. He has been taking blood-thinning medications to both treat the clots and prevent more from forming.
The Flyers' standing with regards to the Stanley Cup playoffs is likely to weigh heavily in Timonen's decision, should he have a choice to make. Timonen, 39, said he would finish his career with the Flyers.
Monday marked the second time in 36 games this season that both Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek were held off the score sheet in a game the Flyers were not shut out . . . Craig Berube said before Monday's loss in Arizona he'd like to get Michael Del Zotto back in the lineup. Del Zotto, 24, has sat for nine consecutive games. "Right now, the six 'D' are playing well and doing what we've asked of them," Berube said . . . The Flyers opted not to practice yesterday . . . One reason the Flyers' fourth line of Vinny Lecavalier, Chris VandeVelde and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has been so successful: Berube has focused on starting their shifts in the offensive zone when possible . . . The Flyers have not won in Denver (0-4-2) in more than 12 years (Dec. 27, 2002).
Flyers (14-16-6) at Colorado Avalanche (13-15-8)
9 tonight, Pepsi Center, Denver
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: The Fanatic (97.5-FM)