It feels like the term “critical offseason” has been used to describe the Philadelphia Flyers’ desperate need for a successful summer for years now, it should have crescendoed in 2022, but that is not what the organization delivered. Instead they got a brand new coaching staff with a shady past, went all in on an offensive defenseman, and signed a fighter to a long-term deal. Not exactly the great building blocks for a winning season the fans had hoped.
Tortorella appeared to be the Flyers’ guy throughout the entire process. Barry Trotz was probably priority number one, but when he turned down their massive offer in favor of taking a year off, the Flyers locked up Tortorella. It’s certainly a controversial hire, but the Flyers are desperately in need of some classic Peter Laviolette “Jam” that has sorely been lacking from behind the bench for years, and few people can provide that like Torts. Whether or not he can salvage this roster is TBD, but if he can’t do it, nobody can.
The anti-vaxxer who tried to fight Evander Kane sure seems like the kind of crazy the Flyers appear to be looking for these days. The former journeyman AHL enforcer racked up 1,919 penalty minutes in 566 contests during his decade long playing career in the minor leagues. He had success as head coach of the OHL Windsor spitfires, and the Chicago Wolves in the AHL, but only spent one season behind an NHL bench as an assistant in San Jose where he led the team to a 14.1% success rate on the 29th ranked powerplay. It’s a less-than-inspiring hire considering the Flyers’ powerplay has been atrocious in its own right, but the organization apparently wanted player-friendly coaches and Thompson appears to fit that bill. Do you think he tries to fight Tony DeAngleo?
Every coach in the NHL has “their guy,” the assistant that follows them around wherever they go, and Brad Shaw is Tortorella’s guy. He had relatively positive results as the penalty kill coach in Columbus, even finished second in the league in 2018-19, and finishing in the top 12 three of his five seasons there. His brief stint in Vancouver last season was unspectacular, running one of the PK’s that was worse than the Flyers. Again, the Flyers needed a home run to help the special teams, but this feels like a double at best.
Welcome to the team, Cutter! Now get ready for the mass expectations that will fall on your shoulders as the next man up earmarked by the fans and organization alike tasked with saving the Philadelphia Flyers. He will be attending college next season, but, he intends to make the jump the following season. He’s listed at 6’2, 201lbs right now at just 18 years old. He’s a natural winger who will convert to center in preparation for an NHL run. Right now he feels like a classic high-risk, high-reward pick that the organization is putting way too many eggs in the basket of, but that’s apparently just the new Flyers’ way.
Trade For and Sign Tony DeAngelo
12 hours after Alex DeBrincat was traded for a trio of draft picks, the Flyers made their own cocktail of picks and shipped them to Carolina for the rights to defenseman Tony DeAngelo. He was then signed to a two-year, $5 million AAV deal. At first, it seemed like the first domino to fall during a busy offseason… but then nothing else happened. DeAngelo was their big fish this summer, and thanks to his checkered past, tarnished any positive roster bump he may bring. They made an addition to boost the powerplay, the first time that hole has been addressed for years, but they emptied every last bullet they had in the chamber to make it happen. Just not a smart move overall.
Buying out Oskar Lindblom
It was long rumored throughout the offseason that Lindblom would’ve been a cap casualty and because a buyout was favorable to the Flyers thanks to his age and base salary exceeding his cap hit. Buying out Lindblom, in a vaccum, was a fine, smart move financially for the Flyers, it was the fact they used his cap space to sign Nic Deslauriers instead of a bigger name, coming just days after adding DeAngleo, it pushed a very angry fanbase over the edge to get rid of one of their favorites without a proper positive payoff after.
It feels a bit early to properly grade this signing, but at face value it really doesn’t make a ton of sense when paired with the rest of the offseason moves or looking at the players already on the roster. Deslauriers is a veteran enforcer, a role that is already filled by Zack MacEwen, who is five years younger than he is. Not to mention the fact that he got a four-year deal with a $1.75 cap hit and TWO YEARS OF A MODIFIED NO-MOVEMENT CLAUSE. You want to add more locker room leaders who stand up for players, fine, but four years for a 31-year-old fighter is bat shit crazy.
You have to question Justin Braun’s sanity for voluntarily coming back to the Flyers, but for the team, it’s a pretty decent add. Provided the rest of the right side of defense can actually stay healthy and Braun can just chill on the third pair, it should be a good thing for the overall blueline. He gets to mentor Cam York, which will be the perfect role for him, and he can still handle the role of defensive defenseman. He certainly wasn’t the flashiest option out there, and if injuries do pop up and he’s once again riding shotgun with Provorov it could be a disaster, but in a bubble, this was a fine signing.
The goaltending situation for the Flyers hasn’t exactly gone as planned. They finally signed 2015 draft pick Ivan Fedotov to an entry-level deal, only for him to get swooped up by the Russian army for evading service time. Considering he’s out of the picture for the time being, the Flyers re-signed Felix Sandstrom, who they didn’t exactly get a vote of confidence from the team last season, often favoring Martin Jones for starts. Grosenick is a 33-year-old AHL journeyman with four games of NHL experience under his belt- two with the Kings in 2020-21, and two with the Sharks way back in 2014-15. This should signal that he was a depth signing and that Sandstrom is the backup next season, but the Flyers haven’t exactly earned the benefit of the doubt lately, so until opening night comes, the backup role still seems murky.
Gotta give it to the Flyers here, it would be very difficult to have a worse offseason than they did. Spending all their available cash and assets on Tony DeAngelo, not making a single roster upgrade throughout the lineup and brand new, already underwhelming, assistant coaches doesn’t exactly spark the confidence that a 25-win team from 2021-22 has turned a new page.
Not to mention the Flyers have rolled their propaganda machine out in full force, using team-paid writers and broadcasters to push a narrative of a fruitful, successful offseason that will lead to a massive turnaround next season. They’re hoping a relatively healthy roster can save the day and lead to a playoff berth, which is already hard to believe with Farabee and Brink out for close to half of the season and Ryan Ellis’ future still murky.
We’ll see how the season goes when they get back out there in October, but the mix of a lackluster offseason and sowing the seeds of grandeur sure feels like it has a high likelihood of backfiring in the faces of the front office members who orchestrated such a pitiful offseason.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com