Let the games begin. That’s right folks the NHL free agency period is about to begin. The hype and fun in the off-season will begin with a buyers frenzy for most teams. On Sunday July, 1, 2018, the NHL free agency period opens for business. The teams wallets will open, while putting the banks on stand-by for the day.
The Philadelphia Flyers finally have some cap space, with approximately $22 million to spend during the frenzy. Let’s keep in mind Hextall wants to save some of the space to re-up Travis Konecny or Ivan Provorov. With that being said, the Flyers are looking to add a third line Center, and a Veteran Defenseman, in a razor-thin free agent Right-Handed Defenseman market. The Flyers may also be willing to pick up a veteran Winger on a short-term deal who can help aid the youth infusion. Aside from that, do not expect the Flyers to make a big splash, a la John Tavares. John Carlson a big ticketed free agent resigned with Washington this past weekend, so that ended that topic of conversation.
General Manager of the Flyers Ron Hextall has previously stated that the Flyers will not get into cap constraining, long-term investments. Moreover, Hextall will continue to build the team from the ground up without sacrificing the youth of the team.
Gone are the days where the Flyers spent, spent, and spent tons of money on veteran players that were out of their prime in free agency. Hextall has preached patience to the Flyers top brass, as well as the fans. This is just not the year where the Flyers are willing to take a big gamble on a high prized free agent, but there’s still value on the market that will interest the orange and black.
Michael Grabner (RW)- PK specialist with a pair of beautiful hands. Currently plays for the New Jersey Devils. Grabner tallied 27 goals, 9 assists, 36 points last season.
James Van Riemsdyk (LW)- The Flyers top brass and fans know him very well, as Van Riemsdyk formerly played for the organization. Van Riemsdyk is a PP specialist as he tallied 11 PP goals in the 2017-18 season. 36 goals, 18 assists, 54 points last season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Van Riemsdyk is looking for a long-term contract, somewhere’s around 6-7 years at $6.5-7 million per. Its unlikely Hextall chases Van Riemsdyk, but anything is possible that’s why he’s included.
Riley Nash (C)- 6’1,” 190 pounds, tallied 15 goals, 26 assists, 41 points last season for the Boston Bruins. Scored 3 points on the PP (2 goals), (1 assist) in 2017-18.
Tyler Bozak (C)- 6’1,” 190 pounds, plays on the PP for the Toronto Maple Leafs, as he tallied 3 goals, and 10 assists on the PP. There’s strong interest for Bozak prior to free agency, as he’s looking for a salary in upwards of $6 million per year. 11 goals, 32 assists, +6 last season.
Paul Stastny (C)- 6’0,” 193 pounds, Stastny had a bounce back year in a big way, and he found himself playing on a line with Patrick Laine. The Winnipeg Jets had a high octane offense, and Stastny didn’t disappoint. He tallied 16 goals, and 37 assists for 53 points in 2017-18.
Jay Beagle (C)- 6’3,” 218 pounds, Beagle became the first player in history to win the Kelly Cup, Calder Cup, and the Stanley Cup. Tallied 7 goals, 15 assists, 22 points in 2017-18.
Kyle Brodziak (C)- Brodziak is a 6’2,” and a stocky 209 pound, solid player. At 34 years old he knows how to play the game the right way. Patrick Powell hinted his availability to me. Brodziak had a good year for the St. Louis Blues this past season while registering 10 goals, and 23 assists for a total of 33 points in 81 games played. He may not kill you with his stats, but Brodziak plays every shift like its his last. Brodziak blocks a ton of shots, creates takeaways, and is the heart and soul of his line.
David Perron (LW)- After averaging nearly a point per game for the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Perron may be looking to cash in on a big pay day. He tallied 16 goals, and 60 assists for 66 points in 70 games played.
James Neal (LW)- Once the heart and soul of the Vegas Golden Knights after getting selected in the expansion draft. Neal sure didn’t disappoint the Golden Knights in their inaugural season. He played in any situation Head Coach Gerard Gallant asked of him. For his efforts, Neal potted 25 goals, and 19 assists for 44 points in 2017-18. Simply put, Neal knows how to go top shelf, “Where momma hides the cookies.”
Patrick Maroon (LW)- Maroon is a natural goal scorer that’s not the flashiest, or the sexiest as he weaves between defenders. But, Maroon knows how to get the job done. Maroon split time between the Edmonton Oilers and the New Jersey Devils respectively this past season. He collectively posted 17 goals, and 26 assists for a total of 43 points in 74 games played.
Anthony Duclair (LW)- Duclair was not offered a qualifying contract as an RFA by the Chicago Blackhawks, thus making him a free agent. One has to think what is wrong with him in the locker room, that he will be with his 4th different NHL team in 5 seasons since he was drafted in 2013. He’s got good speed, and has a pair of beautiful hands. This past season he registered 11 goals, and 12 assists with both the Chicago Blackhawks, and Arizona Coyotes, respectively in 56 games played. Duclair might be able to be scooped up at a cheap price.
Calvin De Haan (LHD)- This 6’1,” 198 pound, 27 year old in De Haan, would solidly provide a veteran presence next to Ivan Provorov. De Haan is a smooth skating Defenseman that owns good puck moving skills, and is reliable in the Defensive end. For the 2017-18 season, De Haan tallied 1 goal, and 11 assists in 33 games played. His season was cut short to a shoulder injury. De Haan did opt for surgery, but will be 100% come training camp.
Roman Polak (RHD)- A 6’2,” 235 pound beast, Polak would be a huge asset for the Flyers, as they struggle to clear the porch on a nightly basis. Fear the man as Polak drags players around like their dolls. He tallied 2 goals, and 10 assists for 12 points in 54 games played last season for the Maple Leafs.
Mike Green (RHD)- Green might not have the wheels he once did, but he still knows how to skate. He’s a solid puck moving Defenseman that knows how to find the twine with his booming shot. Green is more than capable of being a good fit to pair with Provorov. For the 2017-18 season, Green tallied 8 goals, and 25 assists for a total of 33 points in 64 games played. Green was an All-Star this past season for the second time in his career, but his season was cut short in March due to nagging injuries. This 6’1,” 207 pound beast, should be on Hextall’s radar on July 1st.
Andrej Sustr (RHD)- Sustr is a huge 6’7,” 220 pound, 27 year-old goliath, that man handles and suffocates opponents. Matt Martin of PSN tipped me off to his availability. Sustr actually skates pretty well, even though he’s so big. Another great trait he has is his ability to use his long reach that seems to stifle his opponents. Sustr isn’t afraid to to throw down the gloves if need be, as well. After taking a hard brutal hit in late February for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Sustr ended up throwing down the gloves, and left with his face bloodied. The fact is Sustr clears the porch effectively. Sustr isn’t the most offensive Defenseman while registering only 2 goals, and 5 assists for 7 points in 44 games in the 2017-18 season. However, Sustr should be on Hextall’s radar come July 1st.
Some of these key free agents will be signed by the Flyers. The players that are looking for short-term deals are the ones that Hextall wouldn’t mind adding. Things should get interesting on July 1st when free agency opens. One thing is certain Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.
Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports