The 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs are rolling along. There have been a lot of fun surprises so far, including the hilarious demises of the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs as well as the comfort in knowing that the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils will not bringing home the cup. However, for us Flyers fans, this is but little consolation. Our thoughts are turning more towards the draft and the pending offseason.
This year, the NHL Draft is held on July 7-8 in Montreal. The free agency period for the NHL will start on July 1, a few days before the draft. There are a lot of decent names in this year’s free agency class. Whether you are looking for a high priced free agent, some solid depth pieces, a top veteran player to help mentor younger players, or that one missing piece that you need to put you over the top, you should be able to find it here.
Now, the common line of thinking is that teams can fix their problems through free agency. However, history has shown that that isn’t always the case. Most of the time, teams get better by building from within and by making trades that fit what they need.
It is unclear what how much the salary cap will go up this year. The higher it goes, the more it should, theoretically, help the Flyers fix their situation. With some money coming off the books, the team should have some money to spend. But it won’t be oodles of cash to fling around. The Flyers need to be smart about this, or else they will find themselves back in the situation they are currently in.
Before the Flyers head into free agency, there are some things that need to be considered.
Rumors have been swirling around several of the Flyers since midseason. Thus far, none of them have come to any fruition. Kevin Hayes seems resigned to a trade. Tony DeAngelo is not happy, but claims he wants to stay. Who really knows what is the truth?
The important thing is that trading some of the Flyers high priced talent could open up more funds to be used for free agents. It could give the Flyers more draft picks in which to secure their future (hopefully). At the same time, the team may be forced to pay for all or portions of the remaining salaries.
Not trading anyone would also leave them with players that would have to learn to fit in with head coach John Tortorella. Which brings us to…
Fitting Torts’ System
Calgary made an epic trade last year, trading star Matthew Tkachuk for Jonathan Huberdeau. However, Huberdeau was not a fit in Calgary and clashed with former head coach Daryl Sutter. Whomever the Flyers bring in will have to be one of “Tortorella’s Guys”.
Tortorella is a polarizing figure who rubs some players the wrong way or he has their undying loyalty. Cam Atkinson has long been an outspoken admirer of his head coach. He seems to have picked up allies in players like Travis Konecny, Noah Cates, Nick Seeler, and others as well.
Finding guys who will fit the system that Tortorella is trying to implement will go a long way in just trying to find someone to plop into the roster. Sometimes the best fits are those signings that don’t make an amazing splash on the front pages…like Nic Deslauriers this year.
Realistic Expectations for Flyers
The Flyers are not one piece away from contending. They are in the toughest division in the league where two of the top five best records (Carolina and New Jersey) in the NHL this season resided. Also, the Eastern Conference teams were a lot stronger than the West (four of the top five records were from the East). There is a lot of competition in the East. Some teams are getting older (Washington, Pittsburgh, Boston, Tampa), but there is a lot of young talent that is rising up as well.
The Flyers are heading down the right path, but it will probably be another season or two before the team sees any real payoffs from it. Patience is going to be required from the team, the coaches, and from the fans alike. Speaking of patience…
Prudence Will Be Required as the Flyers Future Needs to Be Considered
Daniel Briere will have to do a lot of navigating this minefield of trying to fix this team. You don’t want to derail the future by making a snap decision because you feel you have to do something. That has been the mistake of past GMs….”I gotta do something, so here’s a five year deal worth $20 million.!” Those days are over.
The friendly friends at capfriendly.com show all the contracts the Flyers have graphed out. When you look at it, it puts a lot of things into perspective. There are quite a few RFA’s that need to be signed or dumped; especially before another team decides to steal one.
Looking more long term, there are players that could be extended. Carter Hart is on the last year of his contract as is Seeler. Others like Konecny and Ivan Provorov have just a few years left on their contracts as well.
Likewise, there are some prospects who could be coming up soon, like Cutter Gauthier. You don’t want to hold the future back while trying to patch holes in the lineup now.
Briere has a lot of work to do. With Tortorella and new president Keith Jones, they will work on a plan to place the Flyers on a path to success. Hopefully that success will be sooner than later. But as we’ve seen with past GMs like Paul Holmgren and Ron Hextall, the “quick fix” often puts the team into a bigger hole long term, even if it seemed good at the time. Likewise, standing pat and doing nothing, like Chuck Fletcher, is also not an option.
Either you are moving forward or you are falling behind. The Philadelphia Flyers have been moving backwards for years. It’s time to start moving forward.