It’s no secret the 2022 NHL free agent pool may be rather weak, but the restricted-free agent list is insanely deep featuring some of the top young stars in the league.
Unless you’re the Carolina Hurricanes or Montreal Canadiens, offer sheets don’t really get deployed much these days, with the most recent one without either team happening in 2013 when the Flames unsuccessfully tried to poach Ryan O’Reilly from the Avalanche.
For the Flyers, offer sheets immediately pose a serious hinderance, not because they can’t financially afford them, but because they’re missing a pair of second round picks, a crucial asset for most monetary categories.
|Average Annual Value||Compensation||Flyers Meet Requirements|
|$1 – $1,356,540||No Compensation||Yes|
|$1,356,541 – $2,055,364||1 Third Round Pick||Yes|
|$2,055,365 – $4,110,732||1 Second Round Pick||No|
|$4,110,733 – $6,166,096||1 First Round Pick|
1 Third Round Pick
|$6,166,097 – $8,221,463||1 First Round Pick|
1 Second Round Pick
1 Third Round Pick
|$8,221,464 – $10,276,829||2 First Round Picks|
1 Second Round Pick
1 Third Round Pick
|$10,276,830 – ∞||4 First Round Picks||Yes|
As you can see, the lack of a second round pick impedes them immensely. Draft picks must be from the nearest draft and it must be a team’s own pick, and the Flyers own neither of their 2022 of 2023 second rounders, one given up in the Gostisbehere trade and the other given up in the Ristolainen deal.
That means the top restricted free agents, Patrik Laine, Matthew Tkachuk, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Brock Boeser and Kevin Fiala are all off the table when it comes to offer sheets, unless the Flyers send them a comically low or stupidly high offer, which more than likely won’t happen. They could pursue them via trade if the seas get rough when signing a new contract with their current club, however.
That means $4.1 – $6.1 is the sweet spot for the Flyers, so it’s about landing the best player available with projected values within that range. While they’re not nearly as enticing as the players listed above, there are some potential sneaky good players to try and pry away from their current teams.
Adrian Kempe- LA Kings
Kempe, 25, is in the last year of restricted free agent status and it just so happens to be the best season of his career. At just 50 games, he’s set a new personal best goal total with 25, and has tied a career-high in points with 26. He’s currently in the last season of a three-year, $6 million contract he signed in 2019. The Kings cap situation isn’t overly ugly, but it’s not exactly ideal either. So if they’re looking to continue their rise back to being a competitive hockey team and target a big free agent or two, maybe re-signing Kempe won’t be on their priority list.
Jesse Puljujarvi- Edmonton Oilers
Putting it nicely, the Oilers are just about screwed when it comes to salary cap space this summer. With the bulk of their roster already under (very expensive) contract, their two upcoming restricted free agents Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto could be difficult to keep. Puljujarvi has posted a respectable 12 goals and 28 points in 46 games for Edmonton this season, but it’s his overall game that has taken a step forward in recent years. If the Flyers are looking for a younger face to add to their cast of wingers which will more than likely undergo a serious overhaul this offseason, 24-year-old Puljujarvi may be a place to start. It could be difficult for Edmonton to match any deal between the $4-6 million range, especially on the higher end of that. It could be a gamble, but poaching him shouldn’t be overly difficult either.
Noah Dobson- New York Islanders
Another player to potentially capitalize on thanks to his team’s cap situation would be the Islanders’ 22-year-old right-handed defenseman Noah Dobson. The Isles don’t have much money coming off the books naturally this summer, so they either need to get creative to re-sign Dobson or risk losing him. He’s got 10 goals and 28 points in 50 games. A young up-and-coming right handed defenseman who is producing on the powerplay is pretty high on the Flyers’ wishlist, and a big contract could price out the Isles. It’s a tactical offer sheet if there ever was one.
Victor Olofsson- Buffalo Sabres
Olofsson has struggled a bit this season without Jack Eichel or Sam Reinhart to ride shotgun with, so his personal numbers have taken a bit of a hit, but he’s proven to have an offensive upside, especially on the powerplay, where he’s scored 21 of his 42 career goals. He is on the older side, turning 27 in July, but he’s in just his fourth NHL season with 44 goals and 102 points in 162 career games. The Flyers are pretty desperate when it comes to looking for upgrades on the powerplay, so Olofsson may pique their interest even if he’d be another middle six winger in an already deep group.
Andrew Mangiapane- Calgary Flames
Mangiapane has seemingly been on the verge of a breakout for the last few seasons and it finally happened this year with 27 goals through just 51 games. The Flames are going to have their plates filled this summer extending Matt Tkachuk and dealing with Johnny Gaudreau’s situation. Not to mention they only have three defensemen signed for next season. It could be a perfect time for a team to swoop in and try and steal the Toronto native away. His current contract pays him $2.4 a season, so his next contract will more than likely fall in the $4.1 to $6.1 range.
Ethan Bear- Carolina Hurricanes
Bear was acquired by the Hurricanes last summer and has seen a reduced role since arriving in Carolina. His average TOI dropped from 17:58 last season to just 15:50 this season, but he still tied his point total from last season (8) and he’s taken more shots, thrown more checks, and has cut his giveaways in half. Bear will turn 25 in June and would be an enticing option for the Flyers as they look to address the right side of their defense. The Canes have quite a bit of cash coming off the books this summer, so they could probably re-sign him or match an offer if they so choose, but they may be compelled to spend money elsewhere rather than a depth defenseman.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
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