Flyers Weekly Mailbag: Free agency targets & offseason priorities

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Well, the Flyers have hired a new coach in Alain Vigneault. Vigneault is the 21st coach in Flyers history, and he hopes to right the ship after a whirlwind season of Flyers hockey this past year.

Flyers fans have all become accustomed to missing the playoffs one year, then next season making the playoffs, to the following season of missing the playoffs again. In reality, for the past 5 or 6 seasons, the Flyers have been an inconsistent hockey team. They go on a ten game winning streak, to losing seven games in a row. Hopefully, Vigneault can make them a consistent hockey team, and a team that gets off to fast starts. Without further delay, here are our answers to your questions.

I’m going with a 10 on this one. This one made my night. The Penguins rein seems to be over, and are left with more questions than the Flyers believe it or not. Who will be in net for the Pens next season? How do they improve their Defense? How do they improve the aging core? These are some tough questions that will need answers for sure. This may be one reason why General Manager Jim Rutherford held on to their first round pick for the 2019 NHL Draft. One thing is certain for the Penguins, however. They have a very good coach in Mike Sullivan, and he shouldn’t go anywhere.

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Alain Vigneault is a players coach, that commands respect. He is tough on his players for sure, but they make him his guys because he communicates well with them. Vigneault is tough as nails but communicates well. This is what the Flyers need, they needed some discipline.

Vigneault is a Defensive minded coach that needs speed to implement his system properly. He likes his Defencemen to pinch, but use their speed effectively to get back into the play on the forecheck. This is great for Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers, Ivan Provorov, and Shayne Gostisbehere. Simply put, the Flyers should be better at transitioning out of the zone quicker, and more effectively than in year’s past. Vigneault likes his players to get the puck out of the zone quickly, and effectively to start rushes Offensively. Speed is the name of the game in his system.

Vigneault said yesterday, “When I took over the Canucks, it was a younger team where they had some very young pieces that were starting to grow and coming together. I was part of their development and their growth. When I went to the Rangers, there were maybe less as far as younger players, maybe a more veteran group. I believe as a coach you have to coach what you have in front of you. I will say that in today’s NHL, teams that have success and staffs that have success have to be able to handle young players, know how to get them to understand what it is to be a pro and help them in their development, their understanding of the game and their understanding of what it is to be a good teammate. You have to be able also to work with your core players, to make them understand the culture that you’re trying to install in your group, what is acceptable, what the standards are, what we’re looking to accomplish. A lot of those teams, the third component you have is older veterans that might not be able to perform at the same way that they once were, but bring an intangible that’s really important to the chemistry of a dressing room. If you can work with those players, show them the respect that they deserve through the years in the league, they can be a big asset to a team and an organization. I believe firmly that anyone who’s had success for a sustained period of time in the NHL at my level has been able to work with young players, core players and older players. If you can do that and work well with management, you can get a lot done.”

My targets in the Summer is a top 4 Defenseman, and a 2C. The Flyers are in need of speed, as speed is the name of the game in Alain Vigneault’s system. However, I wouldn’t mind adding some toughness and grit with a cheap contract with a 1-2 year deal for a grinder.

2C:

Brock Nelson

Matt Duchene

Kevin Hayes

Joe Pavelski

Defensemen:

Tyler Myers

Erik Karlsson

Marc Methot

Jacob Trouba- Make an offer sheet as he’s an RFA

Jared Spurgeon- To acquire via trade

Grinders:

Michael Ferland

Riley Sheahan

Until Spurgeon and Trouba are resigned, then they will remain viable options in my eyes.

Hart’s backup Goaltender will be either Brian Elliott or Cam Talbot. Your exact questions are the blueprint for the Flyers off-season, as set forth by Fletcher in his closing presser. The Flyers will acquire some pieces for sure, but these 3 needs are the biggest ones to get right this off-season. Fletcher could snag a sniper at the trade deadline next season if need be.

The biggest need, in my opinion, is acquiring a Veteran Top 4 Defenseman, and one that hopefully is vocal on and off the ice. The locker room needs that voice, and this could go a long way in making this team a consistent hockey team again. The orange and black haven’t had that since the Chris Pronger days.

Kevin Hayes. Hayes used to play for Vigneault previously with the New York Rangers. The two got along very well, I’m hearing with people that are close to the Rangers. The Flyers are in need of a 2C, and Hayes is a big body. Hopefully, he could use his big frame to win some board battles, as well. Patrick will eventually be a 2C, but he’s not quite there yet.

Priority number 2 is resigning the six pending restricted free agents the Flyers currently have, so Fletcher knows exactly how much cap space he is working with for trade purposes and with free agency looming. The six pending restricted free agents are Travis Sanheim, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Ryan Hartman, Scott Laughton, and Justin Bailey.

I think Isaac Ratcliffe will have a phenomenal first year with the Phantoms. I could see a call-up possibly late in the season to the big club, but I think he will pot some big goals for the Phantoms next season. Ratcliffe should make the big club in year 2 of his Professional career, and I think he tallies 16 goals, and 16 assists in his first season with the Phantoms.

The Flyers need Ratcliffe. They need someone to win board battles, and that was one key area the Flyers really struggled with last season. In Vigneault’s system, he likes to push the play and extend it. This can be made possible by winning board battles in the offensive zone.

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Kevin Hayes will play on the second line as a 2C next season with the orange and black. I think the Vigneault-Hayes connection is too strong for Fletcher to pass up. Vigneault is familiar with Hayes, and vice versa Hayes is familiar with Vigneault. This connection just makes too much sense at the moment tbh.

Carter Hart is absolutelyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy without a doubt the number one Goaltender next season. He is the one, the only Carter Hart.

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The only name I hear floated around as an Assistant Coach is Terry Murray. He would be a huge asset, and it would be an upgrade for Murray as he is currently an Assistant Coach with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Kim Dillabaugh I think will stay as the goaltender’s coach, and he will be with Vigneault for the Worlds. “Lappy,” and Kris Knoblauch I think will be let go. Vigneault said having successful coaches could transform a team into a winner.

Vigneault stated yesterday, “I believe that with the proper direction, proper coaching staff, a coaching staff working with management, that the Flyers with the potential that is on this team will be a very good team in the near future.”

Scott Gordon as stated by Chuck Fletcher, ” If Gordon wants the job at Lehigh it is his. He did a great job.” From Fletcher words, I believe he goes back, and becomes a head coach with the Phantoms. If he turns it down, I think he may be able to become an assistant coach in NHL. I just don’t know if that’s with the Flyers organization.

This is one of the most critical off-seasons in recent memory for the Flyers organization. I would like Fletcher to just focus on this off-season, and I would hate to complicate that with an extension for Carter Hart. I’d much rather he focus on some prospects that will need ELC’s, and get prepared for the draft and free agency. Fletcher has to nail this off-season, and complicating things with an extension for Hart could take time away from him doing his homework on tackling the off-season.

The only name I’m hearing as of right now to possibly be an Assistant Coach is Terry Murray. He would be a huge asset, and it would be an upgrade for Murray as he is currently an Assistant Coach with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Kim Dillabaugh I think will stay as the Goaltenders coach, and he will be with Vigneault for the Worlds. “Lappy,” and Kris Knoblauch I think will be let go. Vigneault said having successful coaches could transform a team into a winner.

Vigneault stated yesterday, “I believe that with the proper direction, proper coaching staff, a coaching staff working with management, that the Flyers with the potential that is on this team will be a very good team in the near future.”

2C:

Brock Nelson

Matt Duchene

Kevin Hayes

Joe Pavelski

Defencemen:

Tyler Myers

Erik Karlsson

Marc Methot

Jacob Trouba- Make an offer sheet as he’s an RFA

I’m also hearing if Jared Spurgeon and the Minnesota Wild cannot come to a deal, that Fletcher will be interested in a trade for his services.

Grinders:

Michael Ferland

Riley Sheahan

Hayes would be the guy for the 2C I would presume, as he is familiar with Vigneault’s system. I’m hearing his name floated around a lot. Both he and Vigneault got along well when they were together on the New York Rangers.

Cam Talbot would be my guess for the backup role. He is also familiar with Vigneault, and Talbot excelled in his system. At this time the backup role to Carter Hart is between Brian Elliott and Talbot.

If you would like to see your questions submitted in our weekly mailbag. Just submit your question on our Facebook page or on Twitter using #Flyersmail. Thanks to all the fans for another great mailbag, and Let’s go Flyers. Without your support, we wouldn’t be here today.

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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