After a less than impressive mid-season press conference where Flyers owner Dave Scott showed his face for the first time since early last summer, there are quite a few things one can takeaway from the must-see event. Today, we’re interested in a detail Scott let slip about how he plans on handling the upcoming off season, by handing Fletcher a blank check to improve the Flyers. “Blank check” is business speak for “let’s get weird,” so there may be an exciting summer ahead for the Flyers, but which potential players could be cashing in on some of that sweet, sweet Comcast cash?
Right now, it’s not about making the money work or crafting elaborate trades, just evaluating the current landscape based on the upcoming free agents and current trade rumors across the league.
There has been a tie between South Jersey native Johnny Gaudreau and the Flyers since the day he entered the league. He’s also one of the crown jewels of the 2022 NHL free agent class. If he hits the open market it wouldn’t be a surprise if he and his hometown team end up being dance partners. The Flyers could use a high scoring winger with some speed and quite frankly a player that can be deemed as a fan favorite.
The Flyers desperately need some top-end center depth and Hertl is the big fish in a very shallow pool this summer. While he may not be the bonafide number one center they’re looking for, his 21 goals and 37 points through 42 games would easily lead the Flyers in both categories. Throwing a blank check at Hertl feels like a real desperate move versus a real fix, but the Flyers don’t have much room to turn down improvements at center regardless of how marginal an upgrade.
The fire sale in Chicago is about to begin and apparently anybody not names Kane, Toews or Jones is available. The Flyers should join the no doubt long line for the services of forward Alex DeBrincat, whom the Flyers famously passed on in the 2016 NHL draft in favor of Pascal Laberge. The 24-year-old has scored at least 20 goals in five of his six NHL seasons including a 41-goal campaign in 2018-19 and a 32-goal outing in 2020. He already has 24 in 42 games this season. The price tag won’t be cheap, but a young, top scoring winger is pretty high on the Flyers’ wishlist right about now.
We’ve looked at a potential trade scenario with Chychrun before, and while it may not be overly feasible, if the Flyers want to stay competitive and get a little younger on the blueline, Chychrun is your guy. The asking price from the Coyotes is still pretty high, but 23-year-old stud with three years left at a $4.6 million cap hit doesn’t hit the market very often. It may seem counter intuitive for the Flyers to be big spenders at the trade deadline, but they’d be quickly forgiven when Chychrun goes to work in the orange and black.
Forsberg has flown under the league-wide radar since his back-to-back 30-goal season from 2015-2017. He’s scored 20 goals in eight of his last nine seasons and regularly sniffs the 50-point mark. Forsberg is probably the biggest gamble on the list when it comes to redundancy in the lineup, as the Flyers really don’t need another nondescript 50-point winger, but if they’re desperate to add and he is still available on the free agent market, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Flyers did their due diligence with Forsberg.
Ryan Strome’s development into a legitimate top six center with the New York Rangers has kind of gone under the radar over the last few seasons, but with his contract about to expire, he may be taking his newly crafted talents elsewhere. He could be a sneaky good addition for a team like the Flyers desperate for center depth but may not demand a price tag as high as Tomas Hertl. He’s not the biggest point producer, which is slightly concerning, but if there are moves made to bolster the offense elsewhere, Strome could provide a much needed punch splitting middle-six center duties with Kevin Hayes.
Is it unlikely Malkin leaves Pittsburgh? Yeah. Is there some sick part of me that wants to see Malkin in a Flyers jersey? Also yes. Having a one-two punch at center of Sean Couturier and Evgeni Malkin would’ve blown the minds of any Flyers fan in 2012, and a decade later there’s at least a slight possibility that it could manifest into reality. His offensive production is still top-of-the-line even at soon-to-be 36 years old, but the injuries have amassed over the last few years, and given the bug hitting the Flyers hard this season, it may be best to factor in durability when it comes to looking into the free agent pool.
The fate of Rasmus Ristolainen still seems up in the air, so if they’re looking for a Risto replacement, or a insurance plan for Ryan Ellis on the right side, Klingberg may be their guy. He’s going to undoubtedly demand a max contract and at 29 years old, that’s kinda scary, but for someone who has seen his point totals regularly get close to 50, it may not be a crazy asking price. He is also a valuable tool on the Stars’ powerplay, with slightly less than half of his 349 NHL points coming with the man advantage. That alone could make him a player on the Flyers’ radar as they look to finally cure what ails them on the powerplay.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)