With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Pending Free Agents
- Justin Braun (UFA)
- Brian Elliott (UFA)
- Oskar Lindblom (RFA)
- Nolan Patrick (RFA)
- Robert Hagg (RFA)
- Philippe Myers (RFA)
- Nate Thompson (UFA)
- Tyler Pitlick (UFA)
- Derek Grant (UFA)
- Nicolas Aube-Kubel (RFA)
When you look at the Flyers’ core, you should take a moment to appreciate the cleanup job Ron Hextall accomplished. The current regime took the baton and got off to a good run post-Ron, but give credit where it’s due. Hextall inherited a mess.
Now, sure, there are some risks.
One could see how the combination of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Kevin Hayes, and James van Riemsdyk could age poorly, and quickly. Concerns about the Flyers becoming the “next Kings/Sharks” are somewhat justified.
Yet … a lot of those risks are mitigated. Giroux’s contract ends after 2021-22, and there’s a strong chance he’ll still be worth the near-$8.3M. JVR and Voracek are both 30, but the terms could be worse. Same goes for Hayes; yes, it’s risky, but he won’t turn 28 until May 8. Chuck Fletcher (and Hextall) is guilty of some gambles, but not at the “slap the deed of your house on the poker stack” level.
Most importantly, nice to outright fantastic bargains give the Flyers leeway to roll the dice. After last season’s hiccup, Ivan Provorov looks like a gem, and a steal at $6.75M. Travis Konecny isn’t far behind at $5M, and both contracts run through 2024-25.
The Flyers really feasted on a deal with Sean Couturier, and the only bummer (for them, not Couturier’s accountant) is that a raise is coming from that $4.33M after 2021-22.
There’s a lot to like about the Flyers’ core, especially if the aging elements don’t rapidly go rotten.
Long-term needs for Flyers
Pondering the long-term needs of the Flyers, it’s clear the team needs some answers.
To start: how much is it going to cost to truly add Carter Hart to the core? The 21-year-old’s entry-level contract expires after 2020-21. Would it be better to lock him down as soon as possible, or see how he performs during a contract year? What kind of money and term would make sense for an extension?
While much of the Hart conundrums boil down to “good problems to have,” the Flyers need to find out about the future for players dealing with health issues. Beyond a frightening situation for Oskar Lindblom, Philly could use some insight on Nolan Patrick and Shayne Gostisbehere.
The latter found himself in trade rumors, yet “Ghost Bear” wasn’t exactly healthy. You don’t necessarily want to sell low on a player who can at least generate offense, and is still reasonably young (26) and generally cheap ($4.5M AAV through 2022-23).
Depth resonates as a need for the Flyers, at least if some of the above situations don’t work out.
Beyond depth, I also wonder: while the Flyers boast a strong core, can they really hang among the best of the best?
Long-term strengths for Flyers
Even as players graduate to regular or semi-regular NHL duty, the Flyers continue to hunt down strong draft prospects. Cam York, Morgan Frost, and Bobby Brink help the Flyers place eighth in Scott Wheeler’s prospect rankings (sub required), for example.
Could those players provide that extra “oomph” for this franchise?
It’s an enticing thought, especially as Travis Sanheim bolsters the bigger names, while Frost, Joel Farabee, and others attempt to make impressions.
The Flyers have a nice mix of veteran stars, budding younger stars like Provorov and Konecny, and those aforementioned intriguing prospects. Hart also made encouraging steps toward being that long lost goalie.
There are reasons to be optimistic about this team’s chances of being competitive for some time. What a difference a year makes, eh?
MORE ON THE FLYERS:
• Breaking down their 2019-20 season
• Biggest surprises and disappointments
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.