2021 Free Agency: Five Forwards The Flyers Should Consider Signing

Jan 18, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Zach Hyman (11) carries the puck against Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (14) during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 18, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Zach Hyman (11) carries the puck against Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (14) during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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ALEXANDER WENNBERG

The 26 year-old Wennberg has had a fantastic season for the Florida Panthers. Wennberg registered a career-high 17 goals in the regular season along with 12 assists for 29 points in 56 games in his first year with the Panthers. Wennberg has also potted a goal and an assist in Florida’s Central Division series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, both coming in Florida’s Game 3 overtime victory on May 20th.

Wennberg, a 14th overall pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets back in 2013, is another center that can give Philadelphia huge help at even strength and on the penalty kill. Wennberg led all Panthers forwards in shorthanded ice time and helped the Panthers to a mid-pack finish in PK%, ending up in a tie for 17th with the Vancouver Canucks at 79.8%.

Of course, Florida went through a staggering 13 defensemen this season, and losing so many bodies at that position takes a huge toll on a penalty kill unit on top of just the team in general, so that played a hand in some of their struggles. Wennberg also scored a goal on the penalty kill, something that only Scott Laughton did this season for Philadelphia and that didn’t occur until the Flyers sixth-to-last game of the season.

Given Wennberg’s minutes killing penalties, he could alleviate the pressure off of players like Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes so they can remain fresh and play more at even strength and on the power play. It was also repeated multiple times by the Flyers’ brass that a lot of the struggles on the team’s PK were, in their eyes, largely based on the younger personnel getting adjusted and learning on the fly in a shortened season.

While that may be part of the issue, the goaltending struggled all year and the coaching of Mike Yeo and Alain Vigneault did not change much about the penalty kill’s struggles. But a more seasoned player like Wennberg could bolster the PK and help out younger players like Joel Farabee, Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblöm, and others that will get a crack at killing penalties.

13 of Wennberg’s 17 goals were scored at even strength this year, good for fifth among all Panthers behind Aleksander Barkov, Carter Verhaeghe, Frank Vatrano, and Jonathan Huberdeau. His overall goal total ranks behind those four players as well and he could see an increase in production should he carve out a role in the top-six with the Flyers.

Wennberg’s metrics have fared well this season, as he registered a 52.5 CF%, a 100.5 PDO, and while Florida’s ESSV% with him on the ice was only .888, starter Sergei Bobrovsky posted a dismal .906 save percentage and the team’s total SV% between Bobrovsky, Chris Driedger, and Spencer Knight topped out at .915.

Bobrovsky played the majority of Florida’s games and if you couple his numbers with the injuries the Panthers have played through this season, you’ll get a recipe for bad numbers. That being said, Florida only allowed 2.70 goals per game, largely thanks to Driedger, but the on-ice goaltending numbers shouldn’t reflect as poorly on Wennberg or Florida’s forward corps.

Wennberg averaged 18:10 of time on ice in the regular season and 17:40 in the playoffs, showing that he can play bigger minutes and can play in all situations. Wennberg’s periphiral numbers throughout his career don’t exactly jump off the page and excite anyone, but he took advantage this season in a larger role and was on pace to score 24 or 25 goals in a full 82-game slate.

Given that we’ll have a full offseason and a regular training camp this year, Wennberg could excel his game even further and the Flyers would be wise to add him to a forward group hungry for depth and a player of Wennberg’s versatility would be huge add to Philadelphia’s lineup.

There are five forwards the Philadelphia Flyers should have their sights set on this coming offseason to help out their team. Hall will likely be the most sought after player of the bunch aside from Ovechkin or Landeskog, should they test the market and have offers fielded to them. Regardless, the Flyers need to make some changes up front and any of these additions would surely be welcomed on Broad Street.