Cam Atkinson unsure of his future with the Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers v Columbus Blue Jackets
Philadelphia Flyers v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

Less than 24 hours after being eliminated from playoff contention, the Flyers took to the podium to discuss their seasons and what may have gone wrong. For Cam Atkinson, it was a puzzling experience for him this season. He went from being one of the go-to players to scrapping by with a few minutes per game. He spent time as a healthy scratch down the stretch as well.

It's not an experience that Atkinson has found himself in during his career.

"That aspect of it was like I've never experienced. All 13 years, I've been a go-to guy, have been able to contribute offensively, and have been put in situations to have success," Atkinson said during end-of-season interviews. "So, when you go from that to kind of, in and out of the lineup, and when I'm in the lineup, on the fourth line, with limited minutes, there's only so much you can do. When I was out there, I tried my hardest to just make some sort of impact. I've never experienced that."

After missing last season due to injury, Atkinson scored against the Blue Jackets in the first game. He had 10 points in the Flyers' first 10 games and 15 in the first 20. He finished with 13 points in his final 50 games. He was a healthy scratch in 10 games and played under 10 minutes in seven games, three coming in the final three games. Atkinson played just 4:41 in the finale against Washington.

It was a big change for Atkinson, but he did his best to support his teammates in any way he could. Some things are out of a player's control and they have to deal with the situations in front of them.

"Being a good teammate and controlling what I can control. I'll never go down that
negative route. We all want to be difference-makers. So, when your role does change, you have to find ways to contribute any way you can. Unfortunately, it wasn't really on the score sheet. I thought overall, I handled it pretty well"

With a rebuild, an organization will turn toward younger players to see if they can be a part of the future. John Tortorella said that much in his first season with the Flyers. Now that the organization has fully acknowledged and embraced the rebuild, the players know what to expect.

And Atkinson has known Tortorella for a long time. He was one of the players excited to have him become the coach in Philadelphia. The two have a unique relationship and have shown immense respect for one another. They don't always have to agree, but something like this won't change how things are between them.

"All the conversations we've had this year, together, I never want one or two things to hinder our relationship. Those are the conversations that we've had. He was very honest at the beginning of the season and so was management to the organization and fans, that we're going younger, and those guys are getting more of an opportunity. So, I get it. Torts and I like I said, we're going to agree to disagree on a lot of things. It is what it is at this point."

Atkinson has one more year remaining on his contract. The Flyers could see what Atkinson might be worth on the market if they aren't interested in playing out his final season. They could also go the buyout route if need be. Atkinson has a 5.875M cap hit. Buying him out will lower that to 2.35M for next season. The Flyers would have an additional cap cost of 1.75M for the 2025-26 season. The Flyers will see the final season of Oskar Lindblom's buyout come off the books this summer. They have another year on Tony DeAngelo's buyout for 1.67M.

It's not out of the realm of possibilities that the team decides to go that route. With the cap expected to take a massive jump within the next year or two, that penalty won't look bad. There also isn't a rush to make a decision either. Atkinson believes he still has juice left in the tank. But will he get the chance to redeem himself in Philadelphia?

"I have one more year on my contract. I know the player I am, and I'll never lose sight of who I am
and what has made me the player I am today, and what's gotten me to this level. I still feel like I have a lot of juice left in the tank for the right situation. I think that question is above my pay grade. So, control what I can control"