The Philadelphia Flyers, led by general manager Chuck Fletcher, should be preparing to toss their nets far and wide this offseason as the clock to building a competitive hockey team continues to tick. There should be no rock left unturned across the league when it comes to looking for improvements, so why not help Chucky out by compiling a list of one player from every team the Flyers could look to add this summer.
Manson would be just what the doctor ordered for the Flyers’ blueline. A physical shutdown presence that has been riding shotgun with Cam Fowler as the Ducks’ number two defenseman. He’s on the last year of his current deal that pays him $4.1 million a year and will turn 30 during the early days of the 2021-22 season. He’s definitely a target if he hits free agency next summer, but Fletcher should get the early jump on a much needed piece.
The trade rumors that were swirling regarding Coyotes top defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson have seemingly picked up steam once again, but if the 29-year-old Swede still wants to jump ship, the Flyers should throw their hat in the ring for his services. He’s got six years left on a deal that pays him $8.25 per season, which certainly isn’t ideal especially given his age, but he’d be a player you’d add now, ride him while you can, and worry about the financial issues later.
The Flyers will be on the hunt for a backup goalie this season and could be tempted once again to pursue Halak after missing out on him last summer. Halak is now 36 years old and his number did dip slightly from his 2019-20 season, but he still seems to be an effective backup in a limited role. Obviously with the questions surround Carter Hart, maybe finding someone a little younger who could handle a bigger workload may be better, but if they opt to take the grizzled vet approach again, Halak may peak their interest.
The biggest target coming out of Buffalo should be Jack Eichel, but the more realistic option may be forward Sam Reinhart. A right winger who can play center and has seen success on the powerplay would fit right in with the Flyers. He’s currently a restricted free agent and has stated he has no intentions of returning to the Buffalo Sabres. He ticks too many boxes to not pursue and 25 year old, he’s got a long career in front of him.
There are plenty of rumors of players potentially getting dealt out of Calgary, from Johnny Gaudreau to Matthew Tkachuk, and while the Flyers shouldn’t close the door on any options, Monahan may fill the biggest hole in the Flyers’ lineup. He has been the Flames top center for the past eight seasons with three 30+ goal seasons under his belt. He would be a perfect compliment as the Flyers’ second line center to take minutes away from both Couturier and Hayes. He’s still just 26 years old and has plenty left in the tank. Monahan also has two years left on his current deal, so he wouldn’t be a flight risk right away.
Obviously, Hamilton is the crown jewel of the defenseman market this season. While Chuck Fletcher has seemingly taken himself out of the running for the Hamilton sweepstakes, he’s one of those guys that shouldn’t be taken off the table so easily. Obviously the biggest issue when it comes to Hamilton will be the sky high contract he’ll surely demand, but when a player can near single-handedly turn an entire defense around, there’s no reason to not throw boatloads of money at the guy.
The rumors of Duncan Keith’s imminent trade have been swirling for weeks, but unfortunately for the Flyers, it sounds like he prefers the opposite coast. Keith, who will turn 38 in the middle of July, has two years left on a deal that pays him $5.5 million a season. While his play has slowly but surely declined as he continues to age, he’d still be a very effective body on the blueline. A player like Matt Niskanen was a godsend to the Flyers in the summer of 2019 and a player like Keith with an even bigger resumé could fill the same hole.
While it’s very unlikely an offer sheet happens this summer, now would be as good a chance as any for them to return. If Fletcher does does indeed put his big boy pants on and tries to offer sheet someone, that may as well go big and target Avalanche stud defenseman Cale Makar. He’s just 101 games into his career but has already scored 94 points and has proven to be among the elite of the league’s offensive defenseman. Chances are, at 22 years old, that we still haven’t seen the best Makar has to offer and would look great riding shotgun with Ivan Provorov for the next decade.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Maybe the most likely target the Flyers will pursue in the trade market this offseason, the soon-to-be 27 year old will be looking for a new contract next summer. Rumor has it that he’s noncommittal about signing an extension with the team that acquires him, that shouldn’t stop the Flyers from being involved in helping him escape Columbus. There is an inherent risk when it comes to trading for a top guy on an expiring contract, but he’s the kind of player that could help the Flyers establish some credibility on defense.
Klingberg still feels like a fresh-on-the-scene defenseman, but he’s now seven seasons into his career and 28 years old. He’s got one year left on a deal that clocks in at $4.2 million. Another offensive-minded defenseman isn’t really high on the Flyers’ priority list, but if they’re looking for an improvement over their current stash of like-minded players, Klingberg would be a suitable option. He’s got 327 points in 478 games, finding huge success on the powerplay, something the Flyers should be in the market for.
Detroit Red Wings
Ryan is on the back-nine of his career and time is running out for the Cherry Hill native to play for his hometown Philadelphia Flyers. He’s certainly not the player he once was, but he did momentarily lead the NHL in goals during the 2020-21 season. It’d be a feel good story for someone who could still contribute from a bottom-six role. It’s unlikely, but maybe it’s finally time Ryan comes home.
The Flyers bottom six could desperately use some muscle and Kassian would be a great guy for the job. He missed most of the 2021 season with an ankle injury, but has been tasked with guarding Connor McDavid for the last six seasons. He’s got three years left on his current contract at a $3.2 million cap hit, but that’d be a price worth paying if it means getting a true physical presence in the lineup.
The Flyers need a backup goalie pretty badly this summer and Driedger’s name has been rumored as a potential target as a cheap, high risk, high reward option. He posted a .927 save percentage and 2.07 goals against average in 23 games for the Panthers this season, though has just 38 total NHL games under his belt. Are his numbers so far in his career accurate? Can he perform the same on a lesser defensive team? The only way to answer these questions is by signing the 27-year-old and finding out.
While Quick’s contract makes him an undesirable add, the resumé he brings with him is rather impressive. He’s seven years removed from his second Stanley Cup win in 2014 and his numbers are on the decline, but he could still be a useful option as a veteran backup with plenty of experience to mentor Carter Hart. His $5.8 million price tag for two more seasons would be a tight squeeze for the Flyers, but Quick’s a guy who could potentially be worth the risk if he has something left in the tank.
We all know Chuck Fletcher loves him some Minnesota Wild players and his former first overall pick in 2012 sounds like he may be available. Dumba’s got two years left on his current deal at a $6 million cap hit. While he may not be the biggest, flashiest name available this summer, he’d certainly be an improvement on the stale Flyers’ blue line.
Even at 36 years old, Eric Staal can still bring a lot to the table in the NHL. He’s been anchoring the Canadiens’ fourth line during their Cup run and was atop the Sabres’ scoring leaderboard before that trade. There are few veteran forwards who can bring the lengthy credentials that Staal owns and can still compete, both are categories the Flyers should look to fill during the offseason.
Ever since the calendar flipped to 2021, Mattias Ekholm has been linked to the Philadelphia Flyers in trade rumors. While the deal fell through at the deadline because of the Flyers’ fall from grace and the Predators defying the odds and making the playoffs, maybe there is still fire to the smoke of the Flyers’ interest. He’s got one year left on his contract at a cheap $3.75 million. If Nashville does choose to move a defenseman or two, it will probably happen after the expansion draft. Stay tuned.
New Jersey Devils
It’s no secret the Devils don’t have an overwhelming amount of talent on the roster these days, so instead of bonafide talent, look for a leader. Miles Wood is 25 years old and a veteran of 323 NHL games, all with New Jersey. He’s a physical, gritty leader on the ice who can also chip in offense from time to time. Is he available? Who knows, but with the seemingly never-ending rebuild for New Jersey, everybody probably has a price and Wood would be a nice addition in Philly.
New York Islanders
Since Samuel Morin’s transformation into the next Matt Martin didn’t work, who not go get the real thing. Martin has a reasonable three years left on his current contract at a $1.5 million cap hit. A depth forward who is physical without being a complete menace to society and even chips in about six goals a season. There should be bigger priorities this summer for the Flyers, but adding someone like Martin will pay immediate dividends in many categories that need upgrades too.
New York Rangers
The Rangers have quietly been building a very intimidating group of young defensemen and sooner or later there won’t be room for everybody. Lindgren, a native of Burnsville, Minnesota, probably has Chuck Fletcher’s attention based off that fact alone. He’s a 23-year-old with 113 games under his belt and a a 3x$3 contract to boot. While it may be pre-mature of the Rangers to start parting with building blocks, they can trade a defenseman to help fill their needs at forward, and the Flyers could surely put a package together to add the young,budding defenseman.
Another team with very few options to trade for, so they may as well shoot for the moon. A couple months ago, there were wild rumors that involved Claude Giroux being traded to the Senators that held little base in reality, but let’s go down that path for fun. If the Flyers did look to clear out a veteran or two, an option that should be on the table, and chose Giroux, getting a young star back should be the asking price and look no further than Brady Tkachuk. The 21-year-old forward already has 198 games and 125 points under his belt and is only dipping his toes into the NHL. The ceiling is limitless for Tkachuk, and if a teardown is indeed coming in Philly, he’d be a great building block for the future.
The 36-year-old is in the last year of his deal and bringing his career full circle would be a fairytale way to go out. Carter had a bit of a career renaissance during his short stay in Pittsburgh, where he posted nine goals and 11 points in 14 games plus an additional four goals and five points in six playoff games. He’s in the last year of the 11-year contract he signed back in 2010 and clocks in at $5.2 million dollars. He may be a bit expensive as an offseason acquisition, but if there’s still something in the tank, maybe he can keep beating father time for one more year.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks don’t have many enticing options to trade, so taking on the lesser of the evils on their very expensive, very old blueline may be the best option. Burns, now 36, still has four years left on his current deal and makes $8 million a season. His offensive production has slipped a bit over the last two seasons, but at this point in his career, the Flyers would be looking for a teacher versus somebody the carry the load directly. A big-bodied defenseman that can play a high level of offense and defense can teach the current crop of underwhelming defenseman already on the roster, Sanheim, Myers, Zamula, how to use their size and skill properly. The Sharks would need to retain quite a bit of that $8 million, but it’s a move that could work out well in the long haul for the Flyers.
St. Louis Blues
One of the more interesting names to appear in the trade rumor mill is Blues’ sniper Vladimir Tarkasenko. He recently just returned from his third shoulder surgery and has missed much of the past two seasons because of it. He’s got two years left on his contract that pays him $7.5 million a season and with the expansion draft on the horizon, there’s rumors that the Blues may look to move on from the 29-year-old in hopes of clearing his contract off the books and potentially getting out from under that deal just in case Taraksenko doesn’t bounce back. It’d be a risk for the Flyers, but it Tarasenko can stay healthy and return to form, a 30-goal, powerplay master would be a welcome addition in Phildelphia.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Coleman may have become one of the best depth forwards in the league ever since he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2020 trade deadline. Now a pending UFA, there will probably be teams lining up for his services if Tampa can’t afford to bring him back. A guy who can hit, shoot, score, and play multiple positions is exactly the kind of player the Flyers need in their middle six. He definitely won’t be the sexiest name available, but he may be the most effective.
Toronto Maple Leafs
After the Leafs got eliminated in the first round yet again, rumors have been flying about potential shakeups the team will make to finally get past the opening round of the postseason. He’s had some ebb and flows in terms of production in his career, but he’s usually good for at least 20 goals and 60 points. He’s a bit expensive with a $6.9 cap hit for the next three years, but a player of his caliber at just 25 years old is well worth the risk and whatever they’d have to give up in a trade.
The Canucks find themselves in a very sticky cap situation and are going to need some help alleviating some of their money troubles. With Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson due contracts this summer, it’ll be very difficult to swing a deal for Brock Boeser when he becomes a restricted free agent next summer. Boeser may be one of the more underrated players in the league with three 20+ goal seasons and 210 points in 253 NHL games. He’s still just 24 years old and over a full NHL season is a threat to break the 30-goal plateau for the first time. He’s due $5.8 million this season, and may seek a tad more in contract negotiations next summer, but he’d be another player definitely worth the risk of acquisition.
Vegas Golden Knights
Even as his 37th birthday approaches, Fleury is still playing like a young buck and carrying the Golden Knights to another successful season. He wrapped the 2021 campaign with a 1.98 goals against average and .928 save percentage in 36 games. Last offseason, there were rumors that Vegas was looking to move on from Fleury due to his massive contract that pays him $7 million a season, but he’s currently in the last year of that contract and may be a more enticing option this time around. The Flyers are in the market for a legitimate backup for Carter Hart and somebody the caliber of Marc-Andre Fleury would make a hell of a duo. It’s a lot of money to put into the backup slot, but if the tandem can breath some life back into the Flyers’ crease, it may be worth it for one season.
Not only is Garnet Hatahway 6’3, 210lbs with an impeccable jaw line, he’s also a solid, physical depth forward that has been torturing the Flyers for the past two seasons as a member of the Capitals. He’s got two years left at a $1.5 aav. Hathaway wouldn’t be signed as a means of offensive production, as he’s only recorded 74 points in 297 games, but with a whopping 828 hits over that span it’s just the level of physicality that is missing from the Flyers’ bottom six. At 30 years old he’d also immediately become one of the veteran leaders of the team and may provide a fresh voice in the locker room, a potentially under-the-radar need for the Flyers.
The picking are slim in Winnipeg these days, so why not go after one of their young defenseman who has had his name in trade rumors in the past. Now, it’s no secret the Jets have hemorrhage defensemen over the last few seasons, and Niku may be the next to join that list. Rumor has it he wanted a trade in late 2020 bit never got one. Now the 24-year-old has one year left before he becomes a restricted free agent and only dressed in six NHL games during the 2021 season and just 17 games during 2019-20, making him a peak target for a change of scenery. He may be a few years removed from his dominating 2017-18 AHL season, but maybe there is still a potential top defenseman in him somewhere in the right scenario.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com / inquirer.com