Flyers general manager Ron Hextall on Friday clarified a statement he made recently, and said he, in fact, wanted to go after pending free agent John Tavares, one of the NHL's premier centers.
Tavares, however, has talked with six teams about signing when free-agency opens Sunday, and the Flyers weren't one of them. If he doesn't re-sign with the Islanders, Tavares is believed to be headed to one of five other teams: Toronto, San Jose, Dallas, Tampa Bay, or Boston.
"We would have liked to have been in there," Hextall said during a meeting with reporters at the Flyers' development camp in Voorhees.
Two weeks ago, Hextall said he wasn't going to offer a long-term deal to a "good" player.
"I misspoke that day or you guys misunderstood me," Hextall said. "I said we weren't going to go long-term with a good player."
Hextall added Friday that if it was a "great player, we'd look at it."
But that great player, Tavares, is headed elsewhere.
Asked if he expected to be extremely active in free agency, Hextall — who will have about $20 million in cap space when he re-signs Robert Hagg and Taylor Leier — said the Flyers won't sign players to three- or four-year deals "that are no better than people we have on our team or the kids we have that are close to being ready. That's how we've approach it and we're going to stick with that approach."
After Tavares, Winnipeg's Paul Stastny, 32, is the best center on the free-agent market.
Speaking in general about free agents and not about Stastny, Hextall said he doesn't want to go "long-long term, but we'll see where that goes."
Someone mentioned to Hextall that the Sixers have talked about adding another star to get them over the hump and asked him if he felt the same way about his team.
"The star thing in basketball is a lot different," he said. "We've got 20 guys, and our guys play anywhere from eight to 25 or so minutes, so our guys don't have as big of an impact on a game as one basketball player."
Hextall said "we have enough stars and we have some blossoming stars. Would we like to have more? Of course we would. That's the goal. But, again, once you get by a certain amount of names in free-agency, the stars aren't there and I'm not going to go below."