When the Flyers drafted Nolan Patrick with the 2nd overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft. Most people thought he would be a 2nd line Center in year 3 of his NHL career. Sometimes it takes prospects time to develop, and his critics have to remember every prospect is different. He will get there eventually, but Patrick is not quite there yet. With that being said, the Flyers will look to add a 2C this off-season.
“We would like a veteran defenseman, more scoring forwards, and a goalie for Hart,” Fletcher stated at the exit interviews. “We will be active to improve the team. Everyone is tradeable. A lot of reasons we fall behind in games is because we give up easy goals. It’s not about effort. It’s about thinking, about working smart and playing better.”
The Flyers could use a second line Center who can board battle, and help lead the rush. The Flyers as a team were bad with board battles, and this lead to more Offensive Zone time for their opponents, as well. This also reduced their puck possession time. The Flyers as a team just really seemed to struggle with outlets at times, and it seemed to take their Offense out of rhythm. Here are four second-line Centers that will be available when free agency opens for business, and will help in these areas.
Have you ever seen a bolt of lightning? Well, Duchene is the closest thing to that on the free agent market this June. Duchene is as speedy as they come, but he owns a great pair hands. This 28-year-old can place the biscuit in the basket when you need it the most.
Duchene has tallied some clutch goals in the 2019 playoffs this season. He netted the game-winner this past Saturday in double overtime. For the 2019 playoffs he has tallied 4 goals and chipped in 4 assists for 8 points in 6 games played. For the 2018-19 season, Duchene netted 31 goals and chipped in 39 assists for a total of 70 points in 82 games played.
This stud will be highly coveted by many teams, to include the Columbus Blue Jackets. He may or may not resign with the Blue Jackets. Either way Duchene is going to get paid, and if the Flyers are looking to take the next step, Duchene would be it for sure.
A 6’3,” 212-pound juggernaut just may be what the doctor ordered for the orange and black. Nelson provides much-needed size down the middle, and one that can put the biscuit in the basket. He potted 25 biscuits this past season, to go along with 28 helpers for 53 points in 82 games played. Moreover, Nelson potted the game winners in games 3 and 4 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2019 playoffs. He is not afraid to go to the dirty areas to score a goal either.
Nelson provides durability, and is a great board battler. The Flyers need help in both these areas. He skates hard on the forecheck, but Nelson backchecks, just as well. Nelson has only missed 2 games in the past 5 seasons.
Hayes is a towering 6’5,” 216-pound mammoth, that is familiar with an Alain Vigneault system. He played for Vigneault for 4 seasons before Vigneault was relieved of his Head Coaching duties with the New York Rangers following the 2017-18 season. During that span, Hayes tallied 73 goals under Vigneault, including a 25 goal season in 2017-18.
This former Rangers product in Hayes was traded to the Winnipeg Jets in the 2018-19 season, after playing in 51 games for the Rangers. For the season, Hayes tallied 19 goals, and registered 35 assists for 54 points in 71 games played. Hayes provides much need size down the middle for the orange and black, and is not the fastest skater by any means. However, Hayes is a smart hockey player that skates hard both in the Offensive and Defensive zone.
Pavelski is 5’11,” 190 pounds, that is a natural goal scorer. He tallied 38 goals, and 26 assists for a total 64 points in 75 games played. Pavelski is smaller, than Hayes and Nelson, but Pavelski skates well. He has a lethal wrist shot to boot.
On December 1, 2017, Pavelski scored his 300th NHL goal against the Florida Panthers. He has tallied 40 or more goals one time in the 2013-14 season, where Pavelski netted 41 goals that season.
Anything can happen to include a trade for a second line Center. What I can say is Chuck Fletcher is definitely looking to acquire one this off-season. Fletcher has hinted at submitting an offer sheet for RFA’s, as well, to improve this team. In the end acquiring a second line Center to allow Nolan Patrick to grow, is one of Fletcher’s top priorities this off-season, as it will make the Flyers a consistent hockey team in the future.
Philly Sports Network notes:
Our good friend, and Flyers writer Matt Martin passed away last week. This was one of the toughest articles for me to write. Can you please keep his family, friends, and colleagues in your prayers this week. Thank you very much.
Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports