Which Flyers RFA’s Could Be Targeted?

Apr 9, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers right wing Owen Tippett (74) and left wing Noah Cates (49) against the Boston Bruins during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers right wing Owen Tippett (74) and left wing Noah Cates (49) against the Boston Bruins during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

Earlier, we looked at the restricted free agents (RFAs) that the Flyers have and who was worthy to keep around. RFAs are a way that other teams can poach younger talent off of teams. Usually, this is done to cash strapped team or teams that are usually pretty cheap when it comes to paying out.

It’s done rarely as the penalty incurred is draft picks picks. The Flyers famously tried this twice: once with Chris Gratton and once with Shea Weber. Gratton turned out to be a disaster and Weber’s high offer sheet was surprisingly matched by the Predators.

But it does happen. Carolina took Kasperi Kotkaniemi from Montreal in a retaliatory move from when Montreal tried to snag Sebastian Aho from the Canes a few years earlier.

So, which players do the Flyers have that could be picked up by other teams? Well, the Flyers have only four RFAs this season: Kieffer Bellows, Noah Cates, Morgan Frost, and Cam York. Let’s examine the likelihood that each one could be stolen by another team. After all, the Flyers don’t have a lot of money, so it may be tempting for another team to take one of these guys on.

Kieffer Bellows

Current Salary: $1.2 million

I don’t really think he will be re-signed by the Flyers, so I don’t think this is much of an issue. However, I doubt that anyone will try to poach him. The Flyers waived him several times this season and nobody bothered to pick him up.

If he is re-signed, he could be one of those guys who is on the AHL/NHL shuttle going back and forth in case someone gets hurt. But I really don’t see any team out there making a power play to get him.

If anybody is really hankering for him, he may just be released. And there are lots of other guys of his caliber in the NHL already if you need a depth piece. He’s just not really worth the effort and fuss over an RFA fight.

Noah Cates

Current Salary: $925,000

In his first full year as an NHL player, he’s turned a lot of heads. The former fifth rounder is drawing comparisons to Sean Couturier. A lot of people within the organization are really high on him. He’s also gotten notice around the league as a great two-way forward. That could be a problem.

This is the sort of guy that teams take a chance on. They could offer him a big sheet and hope the Flyers would let him walk OR sign him to a bloated contract that the Flyers can’t afford, furthering hampering the team’s ability to compete. The Flyers are already in the toughest division in the NHL and even then, managed to have almost a .500 record. You think anyone wants to see us get good again? Surely not.

Cates could see an offer sheet coming his way. Teams don’t like to make RFA offers, but he would definitely be a prime candidate. He was one of three Flyers who played in all 82 games. He scored 13 goals with 38 assists. While those aren’t astounding numbers, remember that he started off on the fourth line and worked his way up to playing on the top line. He just turned 24 and has been playing beyond what has been projected so far on a bad team.

Again, many teams don’t make RFA offers because of the draft picks, but Cates might be someone that another team tries to poach.

Morgan Frost

Current Salary: $800,000

The soon to be 24 year old had a breakout season, finally. He scored 19 goals and 27 assists. Much like Cates, he greatly improved. The difference is that Frost was a first rounder in 2017, not a fifth rounder. He has also been hampered by injuries throughout his career.

But much like Cates, he found a niche this season and began to thrive under it. Other teams could take notice of this and desire him. He’s faster than Cates and seems to have more offensive upside, whereas Cates has more all-around skills.

Frost is someone that a team who wants a young sniper could consider snagging from the Flyers. After all, you can’t win if you can’t score goals. (see: the whole Flyers season) Frost could easily slide in along some top scoring vets and add some more firepower to a solid team.

Cam York

Current Salary: $880,833

But you also have to consider that defense is always a priority in the NHL. A lot of the teams in the playoffs, such as Carolina, are built by having a strong, stable, and steady defense. In Carolina’s case, they can also score goals. Brent Burns, at 37 years old, had 18 goals and 61 points this year. Brady Skjei also had 18 goals with 38 points. Carolina also traded for Shayne Gostisbehere; who scored three goals with seven assists in 23 games.

Cam York is one of those up and coming potential top scoring defenders. He looks like a young Gostisbehere without making a lot of the mental mistakes on defense that so frustrated us. He’s got top speed and a lot of puck vision on the ice. He has a lot of maturity for someone who is just 22.

If anyone on this team could be snagged, it could very easily be him. Out of all of the players, he has the most upside. And with good defensive players always at a premium, there are teams that may take a chance on a defender over a forward. Watch out. Someone could make a more on York if the Flyers are not careful.