The week of NHL free agency is finally here and all eyes will be on the Philadelphia Flyers and their attempt to save the franchise. Though in a relatively weak summer for free agents and even more shallow in the Flyers’ positions of need like center and right-handed defenseman, it leaves their options real slim and maximizes the chance they hand out a stupid contract to a player that doesn’t deserve it in an attempt to fill holes on the roster. So who are the most likely players the Flyers sign during free agency?
Number 5: Evgeni Malkin
Will he or won’t he re-sign in Pittsburgh has been the hottest question of the offseason for the Penguins. If their paths do divert, you gotta imagine Chuck Fletcher is drooling at the opportunity to sign a 36-year-old to a big money contract. The injuries are racking up, he only played half of the 2021-22 campaign, but he still managed to produced at an elite clip, with 42 points in 41 games. Adding another injury prone vet to the roster probably isn’t the best idea, but the risk-reward factor could be high for a team desperate for a legitimate center, especially if the contract isn’t too big.
Number 4: PK Subban
With the addition of Tony DeAngleo on the right side of the defense, it really limits who else the can add to the blueline. 33-year-old PK Subban is a right-handed free agent and can probably be had at a relatively low cap hit. He’s long removed from his 2013 Norris Trophy win and hasn’t been worthwhile offensively since 2017-18, but if the 13-year NHL veteran wants to continue his career, he could take a veteran minimum for a team desperate for defensive help; Enter the Philadelphia Flyers.
Number 3: Dylan Strome
Chicago let it be known they won’t be qualifying Dylan Strome, making the 25-year-old an unrestricted free agent. The third overall pick in 2015 hasn’t exactly lived up to his lofty draft expectations, but did finally step into a worthwhile NHL role in 2021-22. He posted 22 goals and 48 points in 69 games last season, finally finding an offensive touch to his game. For the Flyers, if they are priced out of star options down the middle, taking a player on a chance who plays decent hockey with flashes of brilliance like Dylan Strome at a much more reasonable cap hit may be the way to go this summer.
Number 2: Ryan Strome
The more established Strome brother had a great year with the New York Rangers, posting a career-best 21 goals and 54 points. He’ll turn 30 in July and may not be the most complete player out there, but for a team like the Flyers who need any upgrade at center they can get their hands on, deploying Strome to tandem with Kevin Hayes in the middle six could be a decent option. Considering he’s not young, or the offensive dynamo the Flyers truly need, the organization would have to be careful to not overpay, but if they can mimic his current $4.5 million cap hit, the opportunity to add him should be strong.
Number 1: Johnny Gaudreau
In a summer full on uncertainties, there’s been one link that feels like planets ready to collide and that would be Johnny Gaudreau coming to the Philadelphia Flyers. Do the Flyers need another 30-year-old signed to a lifetime contract? No probably not. Is that going to stop them from making the deal? Nope. Considering the fact that his style of play isn’t overly demanding physically, he can probably live out a majority of a seven-year deal, but the cap hit will ultimately determine the long-term impact of his deal. Filip Forsberg re-signed in Nashville for an $8.5 million aav, a bit of a discount from the rumored $10 million that Gaudreau was originally seeking. Does he take a hometown discount? Time will tell, but one thing feels for sure, Gaudreau will play for his hometown team in 2022-23.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: puckprose.com