The NHL Draft is already behind us and the Flyers come away from it with five new prospects to develop. However, the offseason is only just beginning. Free agency opened its gates today, leaving many to question exactly how aggressive the Flyers will be.
One year ago, Philadelphia was a prominent player before the green flag dropped. Jumping the gun to a trade-and-sign with Kevin Hayes, the team were intent on doubling down on young talent by providing savvy veterans to enable the growth of a roster filled with young talent. Matt Niskanen was acquired via trade and had a huge impact on Ivan Provorov before his retirement. But when free agency eventually rolled around, the signings were subtle.
Nate Prosser, Andy Andreoff, and Kurtis Gabriel marked the signings made by the team. The star-power here was hardly glowing, and we should expect much of the same this time around.
Having taken care of their own with qualifying offers, the Flyers enter free agency with around $10M in cap space (16th most in the NHL).
Tyler Pitlick has just signed a two-year deal with the Coyotes, meaning there could be another hole to fill. Pitlick recorded 8 goals and 12 assists during his one year in Philadelphia. His spot probably belongs to Morgan Frost, although the team may seek to bring in a wiley vet in his place.
But spending the sixth-most of any team at the forward spot and with serenity at goaltender with Brian Elliott returning to backup Carter Hart once more, the only real question mark lies on defense.
Justin Braun was retained after it was announced Matt Niskanen was retiring, but we don’t yet know if someone like Shayne Gostisbehere, who has been linked to trade rumors for months, will keep a role on the team or if he too will need replacing.
Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher appears content to sit back and let the pieces fall into place.
“I’m not sure. It’ll depend on the opportunities that are there and the prices. As I’ve mentioned before, we like our group. I think our forward group is stronger than what it was at the end of last year. We’ve lost Niskanen, but we still like our defensive corps. We like our goaltending. If we can improve our team, we will, but we’re not going to spend money just to spend it. If there’s some ability to add a player on the right deal at the right cap price and the right term, we’ll do it. If not, we’ll certainly wait. I think there will be opportunities along the way to address whatever needs we feel we need to address.”
If it’s the waiting game that Fletcher is priming for, then Flyers fans may want to hold their breath. The team did a fantastic job of planting the seeds for the youth to thrive last year. They’ll likely look to reap what they’ve sewn, giving more opportunities to players such as Frost, Farabee, and maybe even Nolan Patrick, before turning to the free agent market barring an exceptional circumstance.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire