PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Flyers general manager Ron Hextall isn’t sugarcoating anything.
Yes, 19-year-olds Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny made the roster and yes, he expects his team to be better this year than last year — a season which ended with a first-round playoff exit.
“We feel these young players make us a better team,” Hextall said of Provorov and Konecny Tuesday on the 94WIP Mike & Ike Show. “So, our expectations are to be better than last year. And next year to be better than this year, while all along getting a little bit younger. We’ve got some good kids coming, besides Ivan and Travis, and we’re excited about our future but we do expect to make gains from what we got accomplished last year.”
Listen: Flyers GM Ron Hextall on the 94WIP Mike & Ike Show
Last year, Flyers 23-year-old defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere made headlines diving into the league by tallying 17 goals and 29 assists in 64 games as a rookie. Provorov, the Flyers’ seventh-overall pick in 2015, may create similar attention as a rookie.
“We believe Ivan makes us a better team,” Hextall said. “We believe he has huge upside. He’s not Shayne, they’re different types of players, but certainly at some point we expect Ivan to be a very, very good player for our hockey club.”
Both Konecny, who led the Flyers in scoring during the preseason, and Provorov earned a spot on the Flyers’ roster at such a young age, something that Hexy doesn’t give out easily.
“If you rush the process history proved over and over again that it’s not conducive to the player,” Hextall said. “And my first responsbility is to allow our players to become the best players that we can become. I think sometimes people want to rush players to the league. We weren’t willing to do that. They had to show up in to camp in good shape, do a good job, and quite frankly they had to make us a better team. Otherwise, there’s no sense keeping them.”
The Flyers open the 2016-17 season at the Los Angeles Kings on Friday at 10:30 p.m.