Now that the Flyers are officially eliminated from playoff contention, it’s time to look towards a critical offseason. One in which Chuck Fletcher will look to make his mark on the Philadelphia Flyers’ franchise.
The team is much closer to being a contender than some may think. Shortcuts can’t be taken, but if the Fletcher & Co. play their cards right this summer, fans may be in for a treat come the 2019-20 NHL season.
Re-signing the Young Players
The Flyers have three main restricted free agents that will need to be signed before the beginning of next year. Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Travis Konecny all have expiring RFA deals at the end of the season, and will likely command a much bigger salary than their $894,000, $863,000, and $894,000 deals, respectively.
Provorov is priority number one. He has proven to be capable of shouldering the load on the blue line for the Flyers, and is their franchise defenseman, despite a down year.
His down year may play into Fletcher’s favor, allowing him to sign him to a team-friendly deal. With roughly 33 million dollars to spend, Provorov will likely get a deal in the range of $6-$7 million dollars per year.
Sanheim and Konecny will likely command less than Provorov. Sanheim has emerged as a potential top-pair candidate opposite of Provorov, providing an offensive spark to the top defensive pairing in Philly. Konecny has been consistent with his scoring, putting up 47 points each of the past two years. Expect to see Sanheim and Konecny get a deal somewhere in the range of $4 million per year.
Sign a Scoring Winger
It’s not secret that the Flyers lack that scoring punch. Adding a winger to quench that thirst should be the second highest priority on Fletcher’s list. Names like Artemi Panarin and Jeff Skinner come to mind, but so do names like Mitch Marner and Mikko Rantanen, who will be RFA’s at year’s end.
The Flyers are in prime position to offer sheet a guy like Marner or Rantanen. While the Colorado Avalanche have the wiggle room to match that offer sheet, the Toronto Maple Leafs would find it much harder to match an offer sheet somewhere in the realm of $8-$10 million dollars.
It may seem like a lot of money, but with 222 points over 238 NHL games, and 92 of them coming this season, Marner could prove to absolutely be worth the price tag.
Depth at wing is a big concern with this team as well. Signing a top winger like Marner, or even Panarin for somewhere around the same number, could bolster that position big time, and essentially kill two birds with one stone.
Sign a Veteran Defenseman
This was a tough call because it’s almost as vital to the success of the team as getting more scoring depth. However, the Flyers put up one goal or less in 19 contests this season, accounting for 24% of their games this season. Scoring needs to be addressed.
However, signing a veteran defenseman for this young group of blue liners would definitely behoove Chuck Fletcher.
Guys like Tyler Myers and Jacob Trouba come to mind. While Trouba is only 25, he could be a viable option on the blue line as that veteran younger guys can look up to. Myers is 29, and may provide a bit more experience, but less production.
Obviously, Erik Karlsson is the big fish in the free agent pond this summer, but if the Flyers dish out big money for a top-notch forward, they may be a bit more reluctant to do the same on the blue line.
The Flyers likely won’t give out two offer sheets, but if they don’t for a forward, Trouba is a definite option. If they err on the side of caution with the “gentlemen’s club” that is the NHL, they likely move on Tyler Myers.
Sign a Veteran Goaltender
It’s no secret, many fans want to see a solid veteran option backing up young phenom Carter Hart come the 2019-20 season. Rightfully so. With them acquiring Cam Talbot earlier this year, many thought he would be the answer behind Hart, especially given his relationship with the stud goaltender.
Brian Elliott came back from injury and threw a big wrench in those plans. He has allowed only 13 goals in six games since coming back and has a .936 save percentage in those six games.
Talbot has only had two starts and one relief appearance but has allowed seven goals in essentially two-and-a-half games. His save percentage is .911, which is better than his average over the entire
With the goalie market being pretty murky this summer, riddled with veterans who may be seeking that one last big contract, Fletcher may err on the side of caution in net, and bring Elliott back, maybe even at a lesser rate than his current $2.75 million per year.
Fletcher seems ready to make this team a contender, and he has the tools necessary to make it happen this summer. With a mid-first round draft pick, and prospects galore, don’t rule out a trade for one of the options above. If the cards don’t fall right for him in that scenario, free agency could be a very interesting time for the Philadelphia Flyers.
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