Three Reasons why the Flyers should become contenders this offseason

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“To be, or not to be,” referencing William Shakespeare’s play in the Hamlet, is a great way to describe the Flyers upcoming off-season. Do they become contenders, or remain pretenders for one more season? Starting things off with a bang will be the NHL Draft that will begin on June 22, 2018, followed by free agency as it opens for business on July 1st.

Some questions still remain for the Flyers are: Does the drafting guru in Ron Hextall keep or trade both first round picks? Will the Flyers become contenders when free agency opens on July 1st, by adding a top tier free agent? These are valid questions to think about, to which we can only speculate all potential targets. Moreover, one last question that some fans may have is do the orange and black wait until next off-season to become contenders when the likes of Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, Ryan Mcdonagh, Jake Gardiner, and Matt Duchene become free agents? How about this: nope, nope, and nope. Here are three reasons why the Flyers should become contenders this off-season.

 

Prospect Pool
It’s no secret to the NHL that the Flyers are filled to the gills with talented young prospects. As a matter of fact, NHL.com voted the Flyers as having the best farm in all of hockey this past season. Hextall has done a phenomenal job at refacing the Flyers organization over the course of the past four years, by stockpiling draftee after draftee. We have seen the likes of Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, Travis Sanheim, Travis Konecny, Robert Hagg, and Ivan Provorov stick with the big club.

Without rushing the development of Philippe Myers, Nicolas-Aube Kubel, Danick Martel, Mike Vecchione, and Mikhail Vorobyev. What better time is it for the Flyers to add a young talented top Right-Handed free agent Defenseman, or trading for another young Right-Handed Defenseman? Or adding a third line Center via free agency, or trading for one that fits?

Hextall has given himself many options because of his great drafting. Without Hextall who knows where the Flyers would be at this stage in the rebuild. This is a great problem to have, but at some point you have to take risks. For instance, the Phantoms will see the likes of Carter Hart, German Rubtsov, Connor Bunnaman, Carsen Twarynski, David Kase, and Pascal Laberge join the club next season. At some point the Flyers will have to realize they are setting themselves up nicely for the future, whether these players fit within the Flyers organization or by using some as trade chips.

Some of these prospects need more time to grow, and by adding a top pairing Defenseman or a bottom six Forward this may speed up their development. For instance, the likes of Philippe Myers, Travis Sanheim, and Shayne Gostisbehere could benefit by adding a top free agent Defenseman. They can eventually evolve into a top pairing Defenseman, without forcing them to do so because of need. It’s a lot of pressure to be tabbed as that guy when your not ready to do so, and having a strong prospect pool helps ease the process. With this strong prospect pool now is the time to act more than ever.

 

The Core
When you think of the core group of Flyers the likes of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds, and Jakub Voracek come to mind. Not a bad core at all at 100%. Clearly everyone saw what a healthy Giroux can do all season long, but look what happened to a warrior in Simmonds that was battered and beaten all year. His numbers dipped from prior years, and you could just tell he wasn’t the same player we were used to seeing.

Looking at the ages of the core to start next season: Giroux 30, Simmonds 30, Voracek 29, and Couturier 26. This is not a spring chicken core group of players for the most part. Why wouldn’t the Flyers want to contend with these players nearing the end of their primes, with the exception for Couturier? The point is anything can happen year to year. Look at Simmonds. Some people wanted him to be the Captain before the 2017-18 season started. As the season wore on, so did the warrior in Simmonds body.

This core group of Flyers believe it or not know how to win together. Look at the 2011-12 playoff series against the Pittsburgh  Penguins. Moreover, they have made the playoffs the past two out of three seasons. Now is the time to add a quality player to aide this core group of players. What is the point of keeping this core group of players intact for another season, if the Flyers won’t be true contenders?

 

Moolah
For the first time since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, the Flyers finally have some cap space. If the Flyers don’t buyout Jori Lehtera, then the Flyers will still have close to $21 million in cap space. Say it with me, “Ameeeeen,” to that. For the first time in his career as a General Manager of the Flyers, Hextall finally has some cap space.

Will Hextall go after a big fish in John Carlson? Or will he obtain a RHD Defenseman via trade? The real answer is no one knows, and we can only speculate what his next move is. One thing for certain is he has more than enough room to either add a quality Defenseman, or let me say it John Tavares. A quality Defenseman on the open market will cost around $9-10 million per season, and Tavares will cost $10-11 million per season. It’s time to show the hockey world we mean business by adding one of them.

A quality Defenseman should be the Flyers top priority this off-season. Just look at the Washington Capitals. They are stifling the Las Vegas Golden Knights with good Defense. Yes, the Capitals have a good goaltender in Braden Holtby, but he still has a quality Defense in front of him that is limiting the Golden Knights to an average of 28.25 shots per game in the Stanley Cup Finals.

If the Flyers added a quality Defenseman at $10 million, and a Veteran third line Center for $4-4.5 million, then that would leave them with approximately 6.5-7 million dollars left in cap space. That would be more than enough to cover the resigning of either Ivan Provorov, or Travis Konecny. Their new contract wouldn’t kick in until the 2019-20 season anyways.

This would allow the orange and black to instantly become contenders by adding a quality Defenseman. As it stands with the current crop of Defenseman they should make the playoffs, although that’s not guaranteed. With having the cap space to add a quality Defenseman why not make them contenders, as opposed to remaining average. As stated, the Veteran core group is only getting older, and who knows what can happen with injuries the following season. There’s no better time than now to add quality, and the Flyers owe it to the proud orange clad fans of Philly that support them night in and night out. It’s time to finally give them what they want, which is a quality product that they can root for.

 

. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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