It’s no secret change is coming to the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2022 offseason. Chuck Fletcher will be working the phones and looking to make whatever moves he can to craft a winning team in 2022-23. That means he should look far and wide for help, and that entails checking in with every team for potential trades. For some, it’s looking to capitalize on a player that may be in the doghouse, and others, it means acquiring a big star.
Comtois has fallen in and out of favor with the Ducks over the last few seasons, and his overall production has struggled to amount because of it. He had just six goals and 16 points in 52 games during 2021-22, but he did have 33 points in 55 games last season. He’s still just 23 years old and a natural left winger, something that should be on the wishlist for the Flyers. He’s got one year left at a $2 million cap hit.
The Chychrun rumors have been flying for most of the season but a late-season injury knocked him out of the trade deadline, so the Coyotes will probably revisit moving him this summer. Even though any potential trade will be awkward based on the the roster construction of the Flyers and the potential return Arizona will be looking for, there’s no question Chychrun would step into the team’s top defenseman role as a more well rounded player than either Provorov or Sanheim.
DeBrusk demanded a trade out of Boston earlier this season, but so far, that request has gone unanswered. He signed a two-year, $4 million aav extension a few months ago, more than likely to help the process of trading him along. DeBrusk had 25 goals and 42 points in 77 games for the Bruins this season. He’ll turn 26 on the eve of the 2022-23 season in October. Could be a perfect candidate for a “hockey trade” the Flyers will probably find themselves making this summer.
A potential buy-low option with a big upside, Olofsson has continued to grow in Buffalo. He scored 20 goals and 49 points in 72 games with 12 powerplay points during 2021-22. Now 27 years old, he is on the older side, but he’s still an RFA this summer with only three seasons of NHL action under his belt. He’d be yet another seemingly middle-six winger on a very crowded team, but if he can make himself useful on the powerplay, that alone may earn him a roster spot with the Flyers.
The potential for adding someone like Matthew Tkachuk may be a bit out of reach, but pending UFA Johnny Gaudreau will probably be high on the Flyers’ radar this summer if he ultimately doesn’t re-sign with Calgary. The South Jersey native posted 40 goals and 115 points last season, both numbers doubled the Flyers’ leaders in the respective categories. Between his production and the hometown connection, he’d be a huge star if he returns to Philadelphia this summer.
Ethan Bear is a 25-year-old pending RFA right-handed defenseman. He played mainly on the third pair for the Hurricanes this season, but was the guy that got promoted to the first pair when injury struck. It’s a role very similar to what the Flyers may need depending on the health of Ryan Ellis. He’s still a bit rough around the edges, but he shows plenty of promise and has enough of an offensive touch to potentially make acquiring his rights worthwhile.
If the teardown fire sale that has been rumored to be taking place in Chicago does indeed happen, Alex DeBrindcat should be high on the list of players the Flyers should pay up for. The two-time 40-goal scorer is just 24 years old. Even though he’ll demand a king’s ransom in return, it’s not everyday a young superstar hits the market. He’d be worth just about any price Chicago could ask for him.
The Avalanche may be in the market to shed a bit of cap space this summer and that could start with 24-year-old defenseman Samuel Girard, who has four years left at a $5 million cap hit. He posted five goals and 28 points in 67 games this season for the Avs during 2021-22. He is a left shot, but does have experience playing on the right side. For a team like the Flyers that’s looking for any level of consistency on the blueline, someone like Girard may be an intriguing option.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The fate of Patrik Laine in Columbus will be a story worth keeping an eye on during the offseason. If Columbus can’t convince Laine to return, trading his rights will be the destined outcome. The Flyers apparently circled around Laine when he was in Winnipeg, but no deal ultimately came to be. As a team now desperate for a goal scorer, could the Flyers once again pursue Laine if things go south in Columbus?
Thanks to the question mark that is Ryan Ellis, the Flyers’ right side of the defense will remain on their question list heading into the offseason. There’s a good chance Klingberg makes bank this summer which could quickly out-price the Flyers, but if they don’t feel confident about the state of Ellis, they may have no choice but to throw their hat into Klingberg’s ring.
Detroit Red Wings
Bertuzzi had a career year in 2021-22 with 30 goals and 62 points in 68 games, and at just 27 years old, we may not have seen the best Bertuzzi has to offer. He’d fit nicely into the prototypical Flyer role of being a pain in the ass to play against as well as a contributor on the ice. He only has one year left on his current deal, so the Flyers would be careful not to overpay just in case, but he would be worth just about any price the Wings would ask.
Puljujarvi may not have fully lived up to his draft hype when he was taken fourth overall in 2016, but he has developed into a fairly well-rounded player with a bright future with the Edmonton Oilers. The cap crunch in Edmonton is very real and they’ll struggle to keep both Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto, both pending RFA’s, so maybe this would be the time to send an offer sheet, nothing super expensive, just enough to make it unappealing for Edmonton to match.
The Flyers made a mistake not pursuing Reinhart last offseason when they acquired Ristolainen from Buffalo, but thanks to some cap struggles in Florida, could he potentially be on the move again? It seems unlikely considering he put up 22 goals and 82 points in 78 during the regular season, but if the cap comes calling and the Panthers have to clear his $6.5 million cap hit for two more seasons, the Flyers better not pass on him twice.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings have an abundance of young, up-and-coming talent and as they get close to “go time” once again, they could look to part with a few of their youngsters in exchange for proven talent. The Flyers are filled with established middle-six forwards that could be enticing for the Kings and they could get a building block in exchange. Kaliyev is a 21-year-old former second round pick forward who had 14 goals and 27 points in 80 games during his first NHL season.
The connection between Chuck Fletcher and his Minnesota Wild roots cannot be denied, and with a financial crunch about to hit the Wild, there may need to be some moves made to stay cap compliant. Enter RHD Matt Dumba, who has one year left at a $6 million cap hit. The Flyers are going to need an insurance policy on the right side of the defense with Ellis’ career in limbo, and Dumba would be a great fit. He could play on the third pair with Cam York, or he could play on the top pair with Ivan Provorov. It’s the kind of dynamic player the Flyers desperately need on the blueline.
For awhile there, it seemed as though Petry could’ve drawn the interest of the Flyers at the trade deadline, but he was ultimately not dealt out of Montreal. But where there’s smoke there’s fire and with the offseason underway, could the two sides look to rekindle a trade? Petry has three years left at a $6.25 million cap hit.
All eyes will be on the Predators’ star forward Filip Forsberg and what decision he makes regarding his future this summer. He was not traded away at the deadline and rumor has it both sides have expressed interest in an extension, but it’s just as likely he hits the free agent market for the first time in his career. If he makes it that far, the Flyers will undoubtedly circle the 28-year-old forward as they desperately search for answers on offense.
New Jersey Devils
The battle between Carter Hart and Mackenzie Blackwood swung heavy in the Flyers’ favor during 2021-22 season. Rumor has it the Devils are considering looking elsewhere for a starting goaltender and in some beautiful twist of fate, bringing in Blackwood, who has one year left at a $2.8 million cap hit, to backup Hart is some kind of poetic justice.
New York Islanders
Dobson quietly had a phenomenal 2021-22 campaign where he posted 13 goals and 51 points for the Islanders. As a right-handed defenseman at just 22 years old and the Islanders working themselves into an interesting financial situation, he’d be a prime target for an offer sheet, and may be within the realm of financial possibility for the Flyers to do so.
New York Rangers
Considering the Rangers’ rebuild is already over, they could be in the buyers market this offseason. That could mean they would give up one of their many prospects in exchange for help in the NHL. Considering they Flyers are filled with complimentary players, they could be a perfect spot to pick up an extra prospect or two. Brennan Othmann was their first round pick in 2021 and he posted 50 goals and 97 points in 66 games in the OHL this season.
Brannstrom was a first round pick in 2017 and originally had quite a bit of hype when he entered the league. He has struggled to adapt to the NHL level and the offense he was once known for has dried up. That being said, he’s still just 22 years old and could potentially be a home run addition in the chance any team could figure out how to get him on the right track. If the Flyers could land him cheap enough, their status as murky rebuilders could pose a good scenario for Brannstrom to earn a full-time gig in the NHL.
In what would be a wacky reality, Malkin’s time with the Penguins may be over and the Flyers could possibly be suitors for his services. Malkin in now 36 years old and often injury prone, but can still produce at a high rate when healthy. It’d be a risk, but for a team in need of center depth, it could be the kind of addition that could salvage a season if he can stay healthy more often than not.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks’ handling of their cap space is a thing of mystery, but it may hinder them from signing one of their brightest stars next summer. Meier, who has one year left at a $6 million cap hit, posted a career best 35 goals and 76 points last season. For a team that is still rebuilding like the Sharks, they may put a price, a very expensive price, but a price nonetheless on their star forward.
Geekie was a third round pick in 2017 and has been one of the best tweeners in the league since during his days in Carolina and now Seattle. He posted his best NHL season in 2021-22 with seven goals and 22 points in 73 points. He may not be the sexiest name available, but if the Flyers are looking for a project, Geekie could be a worthwhile option to take a waiver on.
St. Louis Blues
Apparently Tarasenko was on the Flyers’ radar last summer, but a trade out of St. Louis never ultimately happened. Considering Tarasenko still has one year left on his current deal, might the trade rumors once again start up? After undergoing shoulder surgery last offseason, the question as to whether he could still perform at a high level may have been the factor that scared teams away last summer, but after 34 goals and 82 points in 2021-22, there’s clearly still a world-class sniper available in St. Louis.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Flyers will be in the market for a depth right handed defenseman this summer and a veteran like Jan Rutta could fit that bill nicely. He’s 32 years old, and standing at 6’3 200lbs, he took a much more physical role for the Lightning this season registering 93 hits. He’s not going to turn many heads with his play, but finding a responsible defenseman with an upside could be a bight addition to the Flyers’ depth on defense.
Toronto Maple Leafs
After yet another disappointing first-round playoff exit, there will probably be some kind of change coming to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nylander posted 34 goals and 80 points this season and is the most expandable of their high-priced forward group. Even though he’d be a consolation prize compared to Mitch Marner, landing Nylander for a good price won’t be a tragedy. He’s got two years left at a $6.9 million cap hit.
The Boeser-to-Flyers theory has been around for quite a few years now, and with his current contract expiring and becoming a pending restricted free agent, one has to wonder if now is the time to strike? The 25-year-old had 23 goals and 46 points in 71 games during the 2021-22 season.
Vegas Golden Knights
In a shocking turn of events, the Golden Knights missed the playoffs after a series of injuries proved too much to overcome. Now, they have to come face to face with the salary cap hell they put themselves in and may have to part with a key piece or two in order to remain competitive in the near future. 33-year-old Max Pacioretty, who only played in 39 games but amassed 37 points in that time, may be one of the odd men out. He’s got one year left at a $7 million cap hit, but is still one of the league’s top wingers. If Vegas needs to dump cap in a hurry, he’d be a potentially interesting option to add on the cheap.
It’s never too late to right an old wrong. After dealing the pick that drafted John Carlson to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Steve Eminger in 2008, he has finished top five in Norris voting on three occasions, even earning the runner up title in 2020. He’s got four years left on his current deal at $8 million and he’s 32 years old. Even though he is older, He still posted a career-best in goals with 17 in 2021-22 and 71 points which was second best. It’s be a risk with that kind of cap dollar, but given how desperate the Flyers are for scoring, it’s a risk they might have to take.
The Flyers are going to need to find an established center this summer and so far, Scheifele has been one of the more interesting options to potentially hit the rumor mill. He is 29 years old with two years left at a $6.1 million cap hit. He is still hovering around a point-per-game in his career, with 70 in 67 games played in 2021-22 and 577 points in 642 career games.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: NHL.com