Filip Forsberg or Johnny Gaudreau? Why Not Both?

For better or worse, the Philadelphia Flyers are steadfast in the belief that the best way to move forward is staying competitive. That means the Flyers won’t be looking to dismantle the roster this summer, they’ll be swinging for the fences in the buyers market. So it has opened the theories to which potential free agents the team will target in the offseason. The two players that have drawn the most attention are forwards Filip Forsberg and Johnny Gaudreau. While fans have picked their favorite, why not pursue both?

Forsberg will turn 28 in August and is on an expiring contract with the Predators. There have been mixed rumors out of Nashville so far, it does sound like a potential return is still very much on the table, but it also sounds like he’ll dip his toes in the free agent pool to see what else is out there before making a decision. He was on a typical six-year, $6 million contract and has registered 429 points in 536 games, including seven 20-goal seasons and three 30-goal seasons.

South Jersey’s own Johnny Gaudreau, who turns 29 on August 13, birthday buddies with Forsberg, has been a career Flame and is just shy of a point-per-game pace in his career with 558 in 570 games. He was on a six-year, $40.5 million ($6.7 aav) contract.

Both players broke the 40-goal plateau in 2021-22, with Gaudreau racking up 115 points and Forsberg clocking in at 84 points in 69 games.

Their new contracts will be difficult to predict perfectly, but let’s roll with the assumption that are each paid $8.5 million for seven years. It may be on the conservative side of their value, but it’s a more than fair dollar amount. Only 20 forwards in the league are making $9 million or more on a yearly basis, and only 10 break the $10 million aav mark. It’s certainly not impossible one or both could hit an eight-figure contract, but for argument’s sake, let’s stay within the realm of feasibility.

Matching seven-year deals will take them to 35 (Forsberg) and 36 (Gaudreau) years old respectively. That’s $17 million in cap the Flyers will need to clear to make those deals happen.

The Flyers currently have a hair over $5.1 million in free cap before any moves are made this offseason, now it’ll be cutting out the dead weight to clear the rest to make these contracts happen.

Though, adding two wingers means the current group on the roster becomes expandable. James Van Riemsdyk and his $7 million cap hit will need to be dealt with one way or another. In a perfect world they’d package him with a pick for a team to eat the entirety of his $7 million.

Upgrading the wings could also push Travis Konecny out of the picture, and his $5.5 million cap hit for three more seasons goes with him. The rumors of his impending trade have started to heat up once again after originally being spared last season. While any deal moving Teeks would probably be a “hockey trade” for a roster player at a different position, they could always deal him for a couple of draft picks to shed his cap.

There have also been rumors of a potential buyout to forward Oskar Lindblom, which would not only remove his $3 million cap hit from the books this season, but because of the whacky rules in the CBA, it gives the team a $300,000 cap credit as well. So the Flyers would technically save $3.3 million next season buying out Lindblom, and he’d cost just $600,000 against the cap in 2023-24.

That’s $15.8 on top of the already available $5.1, making a grand total of $20.9 million, enough to had out both contracts.

Would Flyers can’t spend 80% of their free cap space on two wingers when they’ve got a litany of other holes to address? It’s probably not the best idea, but Gaudreau and Forsberg would give this team an immediate jumpstart. An elite playmaker like Gaudreau playing with a sniper like Forsberg would be exactly what this anemic offense desires.

With Kevin Hayes and Sean Couturier locked up on massive deals until 2026 and 2030 respectively, adding a pair of players closing in on their 30’s to longterm deals probably just compounds the already concerning longterm outlook for the franchise, but at this point, if they’re already screwed, at least add some good players to make the next decade of mistakes a little easier to watch.

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By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

photo credit: nashvillepost.com / flamesnation.ca

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