Not counting any minor league contracts the team needs to work out, the Flyers have just four restricted free agents to sign this offseason. These are players who are no longer on entry level contracts but have not attained enough time to be considered an unrestricted free agent, unless the team just outright doesn’t sign them or offer them a contract.
All four players are under 25. One of them made their NHL debut this year with another being acquired by Philadelphia this season. All but one were first round picks and should be considered future foundational pieces of the franchise.
Let’s take a look at each player and see what the team should do.
I agree with Chuck Fletcher’s intentions on bringing him to the Flyers. He was a former first round pick who wasn’t panning out on the Islanders. Maybe he needed a change of scenery. It was a low-risk, high reward signing. It’s actually one of the few moves made this season by Fletch that I agree with.
It didn’t work out, but that’s because Bellows sucks. He doesn’t need a change of scenery. He needs a change of career. Professional hockey in the NHL isn’t going to happen. You may think I am being harsh, but he’s been waived by the Flyers a few times and nobody has claimed him. That’s 31 other teams saying, “Nah….we’re good.” And he hasn’t even performed at the AHL level.
I have no idea why he is here. I’d rather bring up Artem Anisimov who actually is performing for the Phantoms. But we have him. At the end of the year, it’s time to let him go. He’s not worth keeping around. We’ve seen what he can bring to the table and I’d rather focus on some of the younger call ups who might be able to contribute.
Cates has been a nice little surprise for the Flyers. A fifth round pick, he’s been one of the more consistent players on this team. He has a grit to him that this team needs. Is he the best player on this team? No. But he is a valuable depth piece that can be a great third or fourth line player but is capable enough to handle top line duties if someone is hurt.
I’d give this guy a three year deal that isn’t too expensive. Lord knows we already have way too many of those. But I’d reward his efforts and give him an extension. He’s proved his value to this team. He’s got 10 goals with 17 assists this year. Not bad.
Frost hasn’t really shown us a lot, but he is starting to come around some. He has 13 goals with 18 assists. That’s a big jump from five goals and 11 assists last year. He is still just 23, so there is room for improvement.
While he hasn’t lived up to the hype yet, that might change. He definitely needs a contract extension. Again, it shouldn’t break the bank, but he’s improved a little bit since last year and has some more growing up to do. He could very easily become a great second line sniper for this team. He’s worth holding onto.
He has been the best player of this bunch and is in his first full season. He has only one goal, but has 12 assists. He’s playing at just over 19 minutes of ice time a night. For a Flyers defensive corps that has been mostly inconsistent all season, he has been a bright spot. Somehow, he is still a +4 on the plus/minus scale.
York is going to be the future leader of defense. He is going to get paid. Now, will the Flyers give him a low extension now and pay him in the future or will they throw tons of money at him to sign him long term. The other factor in all of this is that out of all of the RFA’s the Flyers have, he is the one most likely to be plucked by another team. The Flyers have to be careful not to strap themselves down with yet another high priced defender. But out of all of the high priced defenders they have on this team, he is the one who is most worth it.