Potentially Cheap Free Agent Forwards That May Interest The Flyers

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Brett Connolly #10 of the Washington Capitals and Nolan Patrick #19 of the Philadelphia Flyers battle for the puck in the first period at Capital One Arena on January 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Brett Connolly #10 of the Washington Capitals and Nolan Patrick #19 of the Philadelphia Flyers battle for the puck in the first period at Capital One Arena on January 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Philadelphia Flyers have a spot open on their third line and could try to fill it with a cheap option on the Free Agent market.

General Manager Chuck Fletcher has addressed every need for the Philadelphia Flyers so far this offseason except for one: third-line right wing. I already talked about which prospects could potentially fill that role for the team, and now I’m going to look at a couple of free agents who could also slot in on line three. Keep in mind that the Flyers won’t be able to sign the cream of the crop n the market given their current salary cap situation and the fact that they still have Restricted Free Agents Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, and Scott Laughton to give contracts. If Fletcher opts to sign a free agent, it’ll be on the cheaper side of things in order to provide Philadelphia with some wiggle room during the season. That doesn’t mean any of the players that I’m about to name are bad, just that they aren’t on the level of a Gustav Nyquist or Mats Zuccarello.

With all of that being said, the first player on the free agent market is Brett Connolly. Connolly had a career year with the Washington Capitals, scoring 46 points (22 Goals, 24 Assists) in 81 games last year. The 27-year-old forward will likely receive a pay-raise for that reason, but it shouldn’t be too lofty for the Flyers, especially if they bridge one of the three RFAs I mentioned above. He’s had solid puck possessing metrics at even strength throughout his eight-year NHL tenure, with career 50.5 Corsi-For (CF%)and 49.7 Fenwick-For (FF%) percentages. While I’d like to see those be slightly higher, Connolly can provide goal-scoring talent to the Flyers roster with a Stanley Cup pedigree to boot.

The next player Fletcher could have interest in is Richard Panik. Panik netted 33 points (14 Goals, 19 Assists) in 75 games with the Arizona Coyotes in 2018-19 and hasn’t had a point total below 30 in his last three NHL seasons. He’s also been a fine puck-possessor in his previous two years, with CF and FF% above 50.0 during that span. The only knock on Panik’s game has been consistency, which can be frustrating, but as long as he can keep a 30-point-pace, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue if the younger players can take a step forward. If the Average Annual Value doesn’t pass three million, Panik would be an intriguing fit in Philadelphia.

Lastly, Joonas Donskoi is easily the best forward I’ve listed thus far. Donskoi would be an excellent fit alongside Nolan Patrick on the Flyers third line given his consistent ability to possess the puck. The former San Jose Shark has never had a CF% or FF% below 53.0 during his four years in the league, and with Patrick’s inability to push play, Donskoi could be precisely what he needs to help raise his confidence. The Finnish winger has netted at least 32 points in three of his four-year career, as well, making him a superb candidate as a depth scorer. Like Connolly, Donskoi could be slightly out of the Flyers price range, but if that price drops for whatever reason, Fletcher should be all over him.

The term of their contracts is an issue with all three of these players, though. The Flyers would likely want to sign all of them to a one-year deal with prospects on the way, but that doesn’t seem possible with other teams possessing the ability to give them longer deals. Connolly and Panik could be moved to the fourth line after next season since they have experience playing there, but it isn’t a foregone conclusion that they’d accept the lesser role during the primes of their careers. For those reasons, the Flyers may have to looker for even cheaper options like a Thomas Vanek or Pontus Aberg if they’re set on finding a veteran, but you never know how free agency will play out.

Must Read. Tyler Pitlick Could Be An Underrated Addition.. light

Don’t expect Philadelphia to be extremely active when July 1st hits since they’ve taken care of most of their team needs already, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they signed somebody even as a depth forward when free agency begins.