Flyers add three forwards as free agency opens

Flyers' GM Daniel Briere
FILE – Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team newly appointed Special Assistant to the General Manager, Daniel Briere, arrives for a news conference in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. The Flyers have named long-time television analyst Keith Jones team president of hockey operations and have removed the interim tag from general manager Danny Briere’s title. Jones was a surprise choice Thursday, May 11, 2023, after he spent the last 23 years as an analyst for Flyers telecasts on NBC Sports Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

After a successful 2023 NHL Entry Draft in Nashville, TN, the Philadelphia Flyers shifted their focus to free agency on Saturday.

Daniel Briere stated that the Flyers wouldn’t be too active during free agency, but eyes will be open to what is available. On the first day, three NHL skaters inked a new deal to arrive in Philadelphia.

Ryan Poehling

Poehling signed a 1yr/$1.4mil contract.

He totaled 14 points (7G, 7A) with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 53GP. In the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the Montreal Canadiens selected Poehling 25th overall.

The Penguins did not tender a qualifying offer to Poehling, allowing him to test free agency as an unrestricted free agent. He gives the Flyers depth, along with versatility. Poehling primarily plays as a C, but can shift over to LW.

“With Ryan, the upside is pretty interesting. At his age, the position he can play; wing or center, I think it’s very exciting. It’s right in line with what we’re trying to do; giving our young guys the chance to play. I think he fits right in with that timeline at his age.”

Daniel Briere; 7/1/2023

Vying to enhance the lineup depth, Poehling fits in the bottom six. He could be the 4C to start 2023-2024. However, he’ll need to earn a role, competing against prospects like Elliot Desnoyers and Tanner Laczynski at the 2023 Flyers Training Camp.

If Poehling impresses during his trial offer, he could earn an extension due to his age.

Rhett Gardner

Gardner was the second skater signed by Briere, inking a 2yr/$1.55mil contract.

Last season, Gardner totaled 40 points (10G, 30A) in 71GP with the Texas Stars, the AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars. In the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, he was the 116th overall selection by the Stars. In 40GP in the NHL, Gardner tallied a goal and an assist.

A depth signing, Gardner will see most of his time with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He is a possible recall in case of injury.

Garnet Hathaway

When it seemed day one was over, Briere signed Hathaway to a 2yr/$4.75mil contract.

Hathaway split last season with the Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins. He totaled 16 points (9G, 7A) in 59GP with the Capitals before six points (4G, 2A) in 25GP with the Bruins.

A solid bottom-six forward, Hathaway brings grit along with play-driving capability. He made a name for himself as one of the better fourth-liners in the NHL due to his playing style. Hathaway fits the “hard to play against” mantra that John Tortorella is trying to instill in his lineup, and he can mentor the prospects.

Briere doesn’t want to block the younger skaters in the Flyers lineup, and there shouldn’t be a concern with Hathaway taking minutes. However, Hathaway could move up the lineup if injuries occur or there are more trades throughout the upcoming season.

If Hathaway proves to be a successful signing, he could fetch a return at the trade deadline to a contending team during his two-year term.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)