Ah yes, the Flyers off-season has begun. Seemingly around the fandom it is all hands on deck, and time to panic! However now isn’t time to panic, it is instead time to sit back, let Hextall does what he does best and fortify our ongoing rebuild. The season didn’t end in disaster, it ended in going 6 games with the President Trophy winners. We didn’t under perform, we actually over performed. So while there may be moves to make, dismantling this team and going for broke is the exact opposite of what we should be looking to do.
Here’s a closer look at our upcoming free agents.
There is a really good chance that the Flyers retain all three of the names listed above. Brayden Schenn had the season of his life. Lucky for us, he is still a restricted free agent so he can’t really test the waters of free agency this year. Look to have him locked up as our 3rd most expensive forward, just ahead of Sean Couturier. Knowing he won’t get top dollar this season, he isn’t likely to expect a huge deal. A $5M, 2 year deal or something similar would benefit both Schenn and the Flyers.
Cousins will probably get himself a one way contract, but not a long one,and not a very lucrative one. I am guessing he will get something similar to what Raffl’s old deal looked like.
Weal will probably get himself a two-way contract, but he could become the odd man out. He is already 24 and is yet to set the world on fire and prove himself worthy of a big extension. Teams will not knock down his door,and I would expect him to be a good player to pass between the Phantoms and Flyers next season.
Gagner is a wild card here. He can play at the NHL level, but do we have room for him? We certainly can’t give him the $3.2M a year he was already making. This would be a situation where Hextall lets him see his free market price and then either lets him walk or see’s if he can get him under top bid. He isn’t going to be a night in and night out roster guy most likely, so there is a good chance he will be playing somewhere else next year.
White is a 4th line beast and it’s a line that Hextall and Hakstol have both liked a lot. That 4th line isn’t a place they are going to want a prospect like Konecny so he isn’t taking up anyone’s spot. I would look for him to get another year or two at about the same salary.
As for the forward not hitting FA that everyone is talking about. Expect RJ to take a buyout and be sent away.
Gudas impressed a lot of people. Personally I didn’t think he had much of a shot, the league is getting away from the hit only, stay at home d-men, but Radko may have saved himself from that fate. While he wasn’t a blue line scoring powerhouse he did learn to drive the action and retain possession in our offensive zone. This is a big plus for him. While his offensive numbers won’t ever look great, he has figured out how to elevate the forwards he is with by giving them more time in the zone. I look for him to get a raise and an extension, probably in the $2.5M range.
Manning has shown that he doesn’t quite have the potential become a true NHL defender. He can plug-in when he needs to and he is capable of keeping up here and there. But with the crop of youngsters coming up, I don’t see him sticking around. He may get an offer for a small 2 way contract for depth, but then again he may not.
I just don’t see him sticking around. Scratched down the stretch, he had some good upside and promise coming in, but a terrible time adapting to the NHL. I think he will get a deal somewhere, just not here.
The defender not hitting FA that we all have eyes on is Andrew MacDonald. I would not be surprised if we can’t find a trade partner for him that he could be bought out. Given that no one picked him up on waivers I don’t think many are looking at having to fork over 5 mil a year for the next 4 years for him. Buying him out would save us 3 mil next year, 3.5 the following, then 3.75 and finally 4 mil. After that our penalty is 1.7M a year. Depending on what Hextall’s plans for the future look like, and expected cap growth this could be a good option.
Now the part everyone wants to talk about. The goalies. Do we trade? Or do we go ahead with a great tandem. This is a tricky part in which I do not envy Hexy at all. It is notoriously hard to keep two starting caliber goalies for very long. We may be in that situation. Both Goalies enter their contract year next year, and we have Stolarz waiting in the wing. In reality, Stolarz situation is probably the biggest thing Hextall will be waiting for. With that in mind, I would not expect a move in the off-season. If one of these goalies is going to be packed away and traded, it will most likely be in a trade deadline deal during next season. If the numbers of Mason or Neuvirth begin to fade into those of a backup player nd Stolarz still looks like he needs time, we may just keep them both and hope for a good salary negotiation.
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