Big game hunting should be the name of the game for Chuck Fletcher and the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2021 offseason, but between the hesitancy the front office has shown over the last calendar year and the limited overall market for worthwhile additions this summer, it feels like the possibility for adding plugs rather than stars is a real issue. If they do cheap out and thy and find value players, who should the organization stay away from?
Number 5: Alex Goligoski
In an offseason where the Flyers need serious defensive help and huge names like Seth Jones and Dougie Hamilton on the market, it seems very on-brand for the Flyers to walk away with some aging veteran like Alex Goligoski. He was a rumored trade deadline target had the Flyers not fallen out of a playoff spot. Now a 35-year-old with 15 NHL seasons under his belt, he fits in that “veteran leadership” role, and not to mention he is a native of Minnesota, so he will always be on Chuck Fletcher’s radar.
Number 4: Alex Wennberg
Wennberg is one of those guys that had one great season early in his career and has convinced teams to give him a chance every year since. He posted 13 goals and 59 points during the 2016-17 season in Columbus and failed to get close to that level of production again and was bought out of the last three seasons of his deal and signed as a free agent with the Florida Panthers. He did manage to post a new career high of 17 goals with the powerhouse Panthers, but only tacked on 12 assists in 56 games. Now ready to potentially hit the free agent scene once again, it’ll be key to avoid the temptation of the guy who just posted a career high in goals. His track record says this season is an anomaly and is best avoided.
Number 3: Devan Dubnyk
The Flyers will probably be in the goaltender market this summer and seem to value the idea of a veteran to tandem with Hart in more of a teacher role than a capable goalie role. Enter Devan Dubnyk. Now 35 years old, Dubnyk has slowly seen his stats deteriorate over the last five seasons, with the last two being particularly underwhelming. The potential connection? Dubnyk spent six seasons in Minnesota, five of which were under Fletcher’s watch, and we know how Chuck Fletcher loves him some former Wild players. With a sub-.900 save percentage and over 3 goals against average for the last two seasons, Dubnyk is clearly trending in the wrong direction. The key to the backup goalie role this summer should be finding a slightly younger guy capable of starting multiple games in a row if necessary, and Dubnyk no longer checks either box.
Number 2: Marc Staal
For some reason, Staal was a name that was heavily ingrained in the Flyers trade rumor mill as a potential depth defenseman plug for a playoff run, let’s hope these rumors don’t continue into the offseason. The 34-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career this summer and, while has stated he’d be open to returning to the Red Wings, has also said he intends on keeping his options open. Marc Staal plain and simple isn’t a very good hockey player, and certainly doesn’t fill the hole the Flyers are looking to address. They need to shoot for the top guys available this summer and Staal isn’t even close to that target. If September rolls around and the wrong Staal brother ends up in Philadelphia, it’ll be a good sign the offseason was a complete failure.
Number 1: Tyson Barrie
This one feels like a trap through and through. Barrie is an offensive defenseman that has struggled for the past few seasons. To remedy his falling stock, he signed a one-year deal with the Oilers knowing he’d be quarterbacking a Connor McDavid-led powerplay and reaping the benefits. He did just that as he racked up 48 points in 56 games, which was on pace for by far the best season of his career. Now, ready to hit the free agent market, he’ll look to cash in with some desperate team looking for production from the blue line. From a Flyers perspective, they already have three offensive defenseman who aren’t very good at either on the active roster in Travis Sanheim, Phil Myers and Shayne Gostisbehere. Unless two of the three of the current Flyers are cleared out or they strike out on either Hamilton or Jones, maybe Barrie could be a worst case scenario fallback option, but this feels like a guy to stay far, far away from otherwise.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: NHL.com / oilonwhyte.com / thehockeywriters.com