The Flyers Should Offer Sheet Cole Caufield

The 2019 entry draft was Chuck Fletcher’s first as general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers and the franchise held the 11th overall selection on day one. They traded down with the Coyotes to acquire the 14th overall pick as well as the 45th overall pick that they would use to select Bobby Brink in exchange for the 11th overall pick. The Flyers ended up taking defenseman Cam York at 14, while the Canadiens would take sniper and fellow USNTDP forward Cole Caufield at 15th.

Since that trade went down, the Flyers have opted to slow burn Cam York’s journey to the NHL. A 30-game sample size during the 2021-22 campaign playing on his off-side partnered with Keith Yandle is only real experience they’ve given him so far. It’s made the fanbase rather antsy and made some reconsider whether or not the Flyers made the wrong selection.

Meanwhile, the players selected around him are all crafting promising NHL careers. Matthew Boldy was taken 12th overall, Spencer Knight was 13th, Caufield at 15th, Alex Newhook was taken 16th and Peyton Krebs was 17th.

Caufield is the missed opportunity fans get the most angry at, especially considering how anemic the Flyers’ offense has been over the last few years.

But what if there’s a chance for the Flyers to correct that mistake?

Cole Caufield’s entry level contract is up at the end of the season. The 22-year-old will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Flyers can attempt to offer sheet him away from Montreal.

As of this writing, he’s got 105 NHL games to his name with 43 goals and 73 points. He had 23 goals and 43 points during the 2021-22 season, his first full NHL campaign, and is currently just shy of a point-per-game pace in 2022-23 with 16 goals and 25 points in 28 games.

Montreal is familiar with offer sheets, sending one to Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho back in 2019, though coming up unsuccessful, and later losing Jesperi Kotkaniemi to the Hurricanes via revenge offer sheet in 2021.

The best thing for the Flyers in an offer sheeting Caufield scenario is they get to keep their 2023 first round pick. Any offer sheet would start with the 2024 first round selection. On the flip side, the biggest hurdle is they don’t own their second rounder in 2024, which was dealt away in the Tony DeAngelo trade last summer with the Hurricanes. It is a necessary requirement for any salary between $6.3 million and $10.5 million in average annual value as well as $2.4 – $4.2 million, meaning the $4.2 to $6.3 million aav range or any number greater than $10.5 million are the only categories the Flyers can afford.

Maybe Carolina’a past offer sheet feud with Montreal would work well for Philly. Their back and forth offer sheeting became quite the petty spectacle, and if Carolina is willing to reignite the fun, Maybe they would be willing to deal that pick back to the Flyers in a reasonable swap rather than make the Flyers pay up for it.

Montreal would welcomely match anything in the $4.2 to $6.3 million range, it’s more than likely where his next contract will land anyway, and committing over $10 million per season to Caufield is quite the risk, though if he keeps trending the direction he’s going in, it may no be an overly egregious number in the not too distant future either.

14 players currently make $10 million or more per season, though only three are wingers (Mitch Marner, Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane) But with the young influx of talent around the league and a salary cap due to rise in the near future, it’s a price tag that may become more and more common, and a 22-year-old that appears on target to become a regular 30+ goal scorer may be worth the investment.

The 2019 draft has not aged very well for the Philadelphia Flyers. The questionable handling of their own pick in Cam York partnered with the rise of a few players drafted around him makes their own potential miss that much harder to swallow. Do they offer sheet Caufield? No probably not. Certainly not if a prude like Chuck Fletcher remains as GM into the offseason. Though for a team desperate for young talent and a high end goalscorer, it should be an option very much on the table for the Flyers, especially if they can somehow get their 2024 second round pick back and open the compensation door for different contract values.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

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