As of right now, the Flyers have just five players who will be unrestricted free agents this year. A few of them are players who were acquired on one-year “prove-it deals” to fill the roster up this offseason. Some could surprise us and be extended. Others could be moved during the trade deadline to contenders.
Marc Staal and Sean Walker are two of the defenders who are pending free agents. Staal was signed by the Flyers this summer while Walker came over as part of the Kevin Hayes deal. Staal was brought in to provide a veteran presence to the team; similar to Justin Braun’s role last year. Walker is a capable defender. Maybe both of them will be traded at the deadline or they could be here next year. A lot of it depends on how they play.
Speaking of that, Nick Seeler’s contract runs out at the end of this season. He was one of the best surprises from last season. He’s a little older than most of the defenders not named Staal or Walker, but he was a solid blueliner last year. He’s also cheap. Being cheap and steady makes him an ideal trade deadline candidate. His strong work ethic also makes him a desirable piece to retain. Coach John Tortorella loves him. His teammates appreciate him. If he can show that last year was not just a funky blip on the radar, as his previous years haven’t shown him to be much more than a depth piece, he could be extended.
Tanner Laczynski is the lone forward free agent. Last year he struggled with injuries and failed to impress Tortorella. This is an important year for him. If he has a bad training camp, he could be replaced by someone like Brink, Olle Lycksell, or Elliot Desnoyers. It is possible he could end up for all of or part of the season in the AHL. This season could be his last in Philly unless he can prove he belongs here.
Finally, we arrive at Felix Sandstrom. At this point in time, he is probably third or fourth on the goalie depth chart. This is probably more due to Sam Ersson’s contract extending past this season, so he is controllable. Sandstrom has this season to show he is a capable backup to Hart and Cal Petersen, or he is likely done with the Flyers organization. Ersson has shown he has been a better netminder and the Flyers are quickly stacking up goalie prospects that are within one-to-three years of making their NHL debuts. Sandstrom needs to showcase his skills, either for the Flyers or an other NHL team, to prove he can cut it. If not, his time in the show could be over.
The Flyers have what seems to be a bright future ahead. Depending on how this season goes for some of these players above, they could either be extended or traded for more assets such as draft picks and prospects. The best-case scenario is that many of these players that the Flyers have invested time, money, and effort investing in pan out, are extended, and will be major pieces of this team for years to come. If not, the Flyers will move on and try again with other players.