Ron Hextall: Risky to move down in 1st round, but ‘good move' for Flyers

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BUFFALO, N.Y. – Ron Hextall said he was fielding calls asking if he wanted to move up and even down during the first round of NHL draft Friday night at First Niagara Center.
 
“We had a lot of calls on flipping picks,” he said. “If we were going to move up we were going to have to take a big jump. We weren’t doing that.”
 
At one point, he was shown on television looking and talking angrily into the phone.
 
“Not true,” Hextall said. “Whether I look mad or not, I assure you I wasn’t.”

In the end, he swapped his No. 18 pick plus No. 79 with Winnipeg for No. 22 and No. 36, one of three second-round picks the Flyers have during Saturday's drafts for Rounds 2-7.
  
In doing so, the Flyers bypassed a chance at several goal-scoring forwards, among them, Kieffer Bellows, who went to the Islanders at No. 19.
 
The Flyers chose 17-year-old Russian centerman German Rubtsov (see story). He had 26 points (12 goals) for the Russian junior team this past season.
 
“We had a really good backup plan that we were comfortable with,” Hextall said of the drop down move that seems rather curious given the club’s need for a big, scoring forward.
 
“So whenever you do that, you say, ‘OK, best case scenario we get this guy.' If we don’t get this guy, these guys are close and we’re OK with it. Otherwise, you don’t move back.”
 
Not everything went as planned through the first round.
 
Hextall predicted if someone was picked out of order, it might create chaos and players would fall. That’s exactly what happened when Columbus chose Pierre-Luc Dubois at No. 3.
 
That set off a chain reaction, which is why Sarnia’s Jakob Chychrun, considered to be a franchise defenseman, kept dropping and was there at No. 16 for Detroit.
 
The Red Wings ended up trading the pick to Arizona along with Pavel Datsyuk, who’s going to the KHL. The Coyotes plucked Chychrun.
 
“We felt like top three was locked in and we had our list,” Hextall said.
 
Hextall kept having stand-up discussions with his table and while the Detroit-Arizona trade was going down, he was talking with Nashville GM David Poile about his pick at No. 17 — a slot above the Flyers.
 
Poile kept his pick anyway and chose Penticton defenseman Dante Fabbro, leaving Bellows to fall right into the Flyers' hands at No. 18 if they wanted him.
 
Except Hextall moved down instead.
 
Bellows ended up going to the Islanders at No. 19, as the Flyers waited out to take Rubtsov.
 
“We wanted him,” Hextall said. “It’s always risky. In the end it was a good move.”
 
It could take a number of years to see whether Rubtsov was the better choice over Bellows.

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