PITTSBURGH - Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn will have abdominal surgery on Thursday but will be ready for the start of training camp, general manager Ron Hextall announced Wednesday before the game in Pittsburgh.
Hextall said Schenn, who missed the last four games, had an injury similar to that of R.J. Umberger, who recently underwent an abdominal procedure. Umberger also had hip surgery. Schenn does not have a hip problem.
The Flyers have a glaring need for a No. 1 defenseman, but because of salary-cap problems, Hextall said that player would have to come from within the organization. In other words, prospects such as Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim, and Shayne Gostisbehere would have to develop into top blue-liners.
Hextall said that he would have to give "a half-dozen pieces away" to get a first-pair defenseman and that he wasn't going to do it. "We're going to build from within."
Hextall hinted that he would like the team to get younger.
"I can assure you, I'm not going to trade young players for 30-year-olds," he said. "Not happening."
Del Zotto's future
Hextall said he does not foresee problems re-signing Michael Del Zotto, who is a restricted free agent.
"I don't think it should be difficult," he said, aware that another team could sign the 24-year-old defenseman to an offer sheet.
Hextall said he expects to work out something that is "fair for both sides" after the season. He said it "depends on the numbers" when he was asked if he wanted to sign Del Zotto to a long-term deal.
Hextall also said he hopes to re-sign free agents Ryan White (unrestricted) and Brandon Manning (restricted).
Steve Mason, who entered Wednesday with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage, could finish with the highest save percentage in franchise history since the NHL started tracking the stat in 1982.
The record is held by Roman Cechmanek, who had a .925 save percentage in 2002-03.
Which defensive prospect is closest to making the team next season? Hextall said that there was no favorite and that it would be decided in training camp. . . . Under the direction of Zack Hill, the Flyers won the Dillman Award for having the Eastern Conference's best public-relations staff. . . . Penguins star Evgeni Malkin was scratched with an unspecified injury.