The Philadelphia Flyers’ President of Hockey Operations, Keith Jones, featured as a guest on Frank Seravalli’s podcast. The two spoke about a number of topics, that Jones was able to answer with a little more detail, compared to during the press conference when he was seated with Daniel Brière, Dan Hilferty, Valerie Camillo, and John Tortorella.
A big topic that came out of the interview, was how Keith Jones wants to build the Flyers team from the back end. After a poor defensive showing in recent years. Modelling it to one of his previous general managers when he was a player in David Poile. Poile’s Nashville Predators focused heavy on a good defensive core, which Jonesy would like to follow.
The Flyers faithful have seen this before and it hasn’t seemed to work so far. Ron Hextall and Paul Holmgren both former Flyers GM’s, drafted a handful of defensemen. Ranking from, not panning out, plagued with injuries, or simply not being good enough.
Paul Holmgren, drafted Samuel Morin in the first round, Hextall then picked Travis Sanheim the following year, before adding Ivan Provorov in 2015. The Flyers also drafted Shayne Gostisbehere in the 3rd round in 2012 and Robert Hägg in the 2nd round in 2013 before signing Phil Myers as an undrafted rookie.
Samuel Morin, unfortunately never really made it and was injured, Hägg was sent to Buffalo after a few disappointing seasons, Gostisbehere was traded for nothing after a few uncharacteristic seasons, Myers was thought to be an incredible rookie, but that was short lived, as he was sent out to Nashville, now only Provorov and Sanheim remain, with Provorov being all over trade talks and Sanheim is just starting a long term deal.
Jones believes he can make it work, he truly wants to have an “advanced back end”.
“And to really define what makes a team win and the blueline matters, the blueline to me is the most important thing. I learned a lot about that from David Poile when I played for him and there’s a reason why David has been in the business for as long as he has, he always built an outstanding blueline. Would’ve loved to have seen him get over the top and win a Stanley Cup, there’s some luck involved with that obviously but we want to have a really advanced back end.”Keith Jones – Frank Servalli’s Podcast
The Flyers have been poor defensively for over a decade and that’s putting it nicely. Anything and everything that they’ve tried to do over the past 3-4 seasons to improve the blueline has failed miserably.
The Flyers are currently stuck with Provorov, Sanheim, Ristolainen, DeAngelo, Nick Seeler, and Cam York as their top-6 with Ronnie Attard, Egor Zamula, in the AHL. DeAngelo and Provorov could be on the move.
The upcoming 2023 NHL Draft will be a big chance for Danny Briere to prove himself, and for the Flyers to find a true diamond in the rough defensman. The Draft this year is extremely forward-heavy so a defensman may be hard to come by.
Keith Jones, believes his prior connections and relationships within the league can help him with his new position. He also expresses how excited he is to work along side Danny Briere, helping wherever he can.
“I’m so pleased that I’m in a position where I can help Danny, I do have a lot of great relationships around the league. As you know when you’re starting to make deals and make trades, there’s a lot of different people you wanna be able to talk to before you end up making that big trade. I’ve been called many times, by different people throughout the industry when they’re looking to know a player a little better. I’m gonna be able to use a lot of those assets and a lot of the people that were reaching out to me, I’m gonna be reaching back out to them and introducing Danny to some of the guys he may not know.”
“Those relationships really matter, I grew up with Rob Blake (in LA), was very good friends of course with Joe Sakic who I played with, Chris Drury is out there doing his thing in New York, Tom Fitzgerald – we both played together – there’s a lot of guys that I’m connected with that are doing the best that they can for their teams.”Keith Jones – Frank Seravalli’s Podcast
Keith Jones, is asking for Flyers fans to trust him. He believes Danny Briere and company can truly turn the Flyers around and it all starts with a strong defensive core. The defence should come as early as possible in the rebuild, at least that seems to be the plan.