The Philadelphia Flyers’ right side of the defense has been a point of intrigue heading into the offseason. With Ryan Ellis’ future still seemingly in limbo, Rasmus Ristolainen re-signed, and no third pair righty signed for next season, questions about their approach to fixing the defense is still at the forefront of the Flyers’ offseason questions.
They’re going to have to address the hole from outside the organization with some kind of legitimacy, considering they don’t have any natural righties NHL ready in the system, and cheaping out by signing a Justin Braun clone clearly isn’t the best answer after that strategy backfired this season.
Chuck Fletcher’s love for his previous stomping ground the Minnesota Wild is well documented. Anybody that has ever played for the Wild, or any Minnesota team at any level for that matter, is on his radar. That could mean he looks to his past to address problems in the present.
The Wild are in a rough spot financially for the foreseeable future. The buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will cost them $12.7 million in dead space next season, and a whopping $14.7 million for two years after that. They may have to cut costs on their current roster just to stay compliant next season, and that’s where Chuck Fletcher can swoop in and find a fix.
Matt Dumba, who will turn 28 in July, has one year left on his current contract with a $6 million cap hit. He only suited up for 57 games during the 2021-22 season dealing with an upper-body injury, but he did post seven goals and 27 points during that stretch. He played through a punctured lung and broken ribs during the 2022 playoff loss to the Blues.
Granted giving the Flyers any kind of benefit of the doubt is a stretch right now, but if the injury bug stays away, a top six of-
Ivan Provorov – Ryan Ellis
Travis Sanheim – Rasmus Ristolainen
Cam York – Matt Dumba
is a legitimate defense corps. Dumba is an above-average third pair defenseman, someone who would be an excellent partner for youngster Cam York. And in the chance that Ryan Ellis misses time once again, Dumba is a more than capable of moving up in the lineup to play next to Provorov.
Yes, that’s an expensive defensive unit. The six of them will cost around $30 million total, but it’s the situation they’ve worked themselves into with Ellis and Ristolainen as their one-two punch. They can’t really afford, from an on-ice perspective, to cheap out on the defense again.
The Flyers are going to have to spare no expense when it comes to overhauling the team this summer, and given Fletcher has a history with Dumba, drafting him in the first round of the 2012 draft, the connection is already there. Hopefully the impending contract expiration next summer as well as the Wild’s cap struggles means he can be had at a reasonable price via trade. He’d be about as good as it’s going to get for the Flyers on the right side of the defense, properly addressing a gaping hole that doomed them during the 2021-22 campaign.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com