While the top six is pretty much set, there is one area of need on forward that the Flyers will need to address soon.
It isn’t the first time the Flyers will need to figure out who their third-line center will be. Bringing in Kevin Hayes was supposed to have allowed Nolan Patrick to slide down in the lineup. Or even Morgan Frost if he was able to impress the team during training camp. Neither option ended up working out as the team had to look for other options.
While Scott Laughton filled in admirably when he needed to, he is a much better option at the wing. There is not a lot of cap space to be had as the team is just under $8M after recently signing Nicolas Aube-Kubel. And they have a few of their own free agents to take care of.
So unless the team is to pull off a trade or two to open up some cap space, they will likely be looking for an internal move once again. And that brings us to the same two players mentioned above.
Ideally, Patrick would’ve filled that role this past season. And then he was diagnosed with a migraine disorder. There is no blame to be had here as it was an unfortunate blow for Patrick. Over 18 months since he has played in an NHL game, it is hard to project what the team may be getting back if he is to return this season.
Starting at the 3C would be a good way to ease him back in if he is deemed ready to play. The matchups should be easier for him as he will certainly need time to get back into playing shape. He was ramping things up before the season was paused, taking part in Flyers’ practices. While he wasn’t quite taking on contact, it was a step in the right direction.
The pause was a big blow to seeing where he was at. He did not join the Flyers in Toronto, an expected decision. But it meant the team was unable to see where he was at. And now with the uncertainty of the season beginning in December, it is unknown when we may see how Patrick is doing.
There is no rush as brain injuries are not something to mess with. It is also hard to know if it is something that will reoccur. These migraines are something that Patrick has dealt with before. He will be a part of the Flyers’ future one way or another. The team isn’t going to give up on him.
If he does return, it is hard to see the 3C spot going to anyone else. It is possible someone like Frost comes into camp and steals the job.
With his first professional year under his belt, Frost now has a better grasp of what it will take to make it at the NHL level. He appeared in a handful of games for the Flyers. And while he did grab two goals, the play at this level proved that he still has some things to work on. And to be a center in this league, those things will be very important for him to learn.
The flashy moves he was able to do previously are not something that players in this league will let you get away with. So Frost has to be aware that he does not have the time and space that he once did. The players are much faster and bigger in the NHL. That is where bulking up is once again something that he will need to do.
It’s something that has followed him since he was drafted. And it’s been a large reason why he hasn’t made the team for good just yet. His play without the puck is another area of his game that he will have to work on. The ability to create space for others will be a key to his continued development.
If he is able to put the work in during this abbreviated offseason and come into next season ready to go, he could prove to the Flyers that his time is now. Though, he may have to have an almost perfect showing.
Free Agent Options
This is an unlikely option unless the Flyers are able to clear up enough space to make a move. And there aren’t a lot of cheap, depth centers available. TSN recently released their list of the top 75 available free agents. Looking down their option of centers, the first name that sticks out is Derick Brassard.
He is coming off a one-year contract that paid him just $1.2M. It was a large pay cut after he finished a five-year deal worth $5M. It was a bounce-back season after appearing for three separate teams during the 2018-19 season. He is far removed from the 60 points he put up for the Rangers in 2014-15.
10 goals and 32 points in 66 games played this season was a solid year for him. He proved that he still has something to offer the league.
The Flyers also have a free agent that they were able to see up close this season. And that was Derek Grant. But after a career season, he will almost certainly be looking for a hefty raise from his $700K contract. And that ask could price him out of Philadelphia.
He looked strong during the few games before the pause, but he faltered big time during the postseason. It doesn’t seem as if the Flyers had enough time to evaluate him enough to pay him what he may be asking for.
The other names on the list that are coming off of cheap deals include Tomas Nosak, Johan Larsson, and Brad Richardson. The latter likely isn’t an option as he will be turning 36-years-old next year. Larsson had a slightly better season than Nosak, but neither option looks to be an upgrade on what the team already has.
Unless the Flyers make a big splash for some of the more attractive names out there, their internal options may be better than what they can find on the free-agent market.