Let the games begin. That’s right folks the NHL free agency period is about to kick off. The hype and fun in the offseason will start with a buyers frenzy for most teams. On Monday, July 1st, the NHL free agency period opens for business. Team’s wallets will open while putting the banks on standby for the day.
Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers made a flurry of moves in the weeks leading up to the free agency period opening. Let’s keep in mind Fletcher wants to save some of the space to re-up Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Ryan Hartman, and Scott Laughton. With that being said, the Flyers are looking to add a possible 3rd line winger and a backup Goaltender. Asides from that, do not expect the Flyers to make a big splash, a la Matt Duchene.
Fletcher has previously stated that the Flyers will look to add the right pieces to make this team become a contender. Moreover, Fletcher also said he likes the youth of the team, and that Philly is still a prime destination for free agents.
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. This is just not the year where the Flyers are willing to take a big gamble, as the majority of their roster was solidified prior to the free agency period opening. Here are some players of interest for the Flyers this off-season.
Zuuuuuuuuuuucccccc as Flyers fans know him from his days of being a member of the New York Rangers, potted 12 goals, and registered 28 assists last season for the Dallas Stars. He still has wheels, and Zuccarello would be a fine addition for the right price on the third line. Zuccarello made $4.5 million last season.
Williams is a former Flyer, and boy would the Flyers like to go into the past, and undo that trade to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2004. He is a machine, the guy has wheels, and Williams can pot a big goal or two. Williams became part of the “Storm Squad,” and he would lead the Hurricanes to cheers following a victory. Wouldn’t that be intriguing in Philly? Williams made $4.5 million last season. More than likely he re-signs with the Hurricanes though, but his name is still worth noting.
Nyquist is very talented offensively, but he’s not the best defensive player. Fresh off a career year, in which Nyquist cracked the 60 point plateau for the San Jose Sharks. Nyquist could help the Flyers immensely on the power play, and pot a huge goal for sure. Unfortunately, Nyquist may be looking for term and money, none of which the Flyers would like to give him. In the event he would sign a cheap deal, then Fletcher will be interested for sure.
At age 27, weighing 217 pounds, while standing at 6’1,” Ferland could help the Flyers in many ways. He can board battle with the best of them, which is a dire need for the orange and black. Moreover, Ferland possesses size on the wing, while still potting 17-20 goals per year. Let’s not forget about standing up for his teammates. Ferland can throw down the mitts with the best of them. He will do it all for his team to win, and Ferland does it well.
Pominville is clearly one of the greatest Buffalo Sabres in their franchise history. He still has some gas in the tank and has some wheels, as well. Pominville was a fan favorite for many reasons…he plays his heart out on every shift. Regardless, of how the Sabres were doing throughout the season, he is one that never complains and goes about his business. For his career as a Sabre, Pominville has registered 217 goals, and 304 assists for a total of 521 points in 733 games played.
At the ripe age of 36, Pominville still managed to pot 16 goals for the 2018-19 season. That’s quite impressive for the number of miles Pominville has on his tires. Pominville may be on Fletcher’s radar for the right price for on the opening day of free agency if Pominville doesn’t re-sign with the Sabres.
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Kinkaid, also known as the Flyers killer, appears to be a consistent backup netminder. He has 65 career victories, to be paired with 55 losses, not too shabby I must say.
He stands at 6’3,” tall, and weighs 195 pounds. At age 29, Kinkaid still has a lot of miles left on his tires. For the past two seasons, he has appeared in 38 games, while registering 41 wins, and 28 losses. Kinkaid is very good at moving laterally and uses his big frame to his advantage towards the bottom portion of the net. However, Kinkaid can use more work on his butterfly position, as sometimes he commits to that position too early. Overall, he would be a great mentor to a young phenom in Carter Hart.
It appears Smith is a journeyman Goaltender and one that would be a solid Veteran backup to Hart. Smith has spent the past 2 seasons with the Calgary Flames, played 2 years with the Dallas Stars, 4 years with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and 3 years with the Arizona Coyotes. His best season was in 2011-12 when he finished 4th in the Vezina Trophy voting race, after compiling a 2.21 GAA, to go along with a .930 Save Percentage.
For the 2018-19 season, Smith had a record of 23-16-2, registered a 2.72 GAA, and finished with a .898 Save Percentage. His years may have caught up to him to be a starter in the NHL, however, at 37-years-old Smith can still be a valuable backup.
Niemi is a Goaltender that Flyers fans know all too well. He won a Stanley Cup as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 against the Flyers, I mean geez Louise it still stings today. Last season for the Montreal Canadiens, he posted an 8-6-2 record, 3.78 GAA, with a .887 Save Percentage. If all else fails, Niemi can provide some big minutes for the orange and black, as well as, provide Cup experience.
Talbot came to the Flyers in a trade for young promising netminder Anthony Stolarz on February 16, 2019. He only played in 4 games for the orange and black from the time he was traded from the Edmonton Oilers. It was a weird situation, to say the least. Talbot was not afforded an extended look to see how he would perform in a Flyers sweater, with a possibility at re-signing him in the off-season.
In any sense, Talbot is a mentor to Hart, as the pair have worked out together in the off-season. They have become friends, and if Hart would be happy with Talbot backing him up, then it may be a win-win to re-sign Talbot. Moreover, at the moment Talbot seems like the likeliest candidate to backup Hart, especially if he is willing to be signed to a two-year $4 million deal.
McElhinney had a really good year for the Carolina Hurricanes in 2018-19. He appeared in 33 games and posted a 20-11-2 record, a 2.58 GAA, and a .912 Save Percentage. At 36 years-old, McElhinney would be a quality backup netminder to Hart. He has seen just about everything in his NHL career, and he could come to the orange and black for a cheap price. McElhinney made just $850,000 last season as a member of the Hurricanes.
It is possible that one of these key free agents signs with the club, but don’t expect big splashes Flyers fans. As a matter of fact, if I’m Fletcher I wouldn’t add a Forward to fill the vacant 3W spot. That spot could be filled with a prospect, as the Flyers only have approximately $22 million in cap space. In addition, Fletcher still has to sign the 5 big RFA’s, and add a backup goalie for Carter Hart. This would leave the orange and black with maybe $3 million to add a Forward. Assuming the 4th line is Raffl, Laughton, and Hartman, then the 3rd line would look like Lindblom, Patrick, Prospect
The players that are looking for short-term deals are the ones that Fletcher wouldn’t mind adding. Things may get interesting on July 1st when free agency opens. One thing is certain Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.
Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sportsl