Keep, Buyout or Trade Cam Atkinson

The 2023 offseason is shaping up to be a big one for the Philadelphia Flyers with many big decisions awaiting them when the regular season comes to a close. The name of the game for a team that has hinted at a rebuild should be clearing some cap, and forward Cam Atkinson is high on the list of potential players that could be casualties as a result of the cost cutting.

33-year-old Cam Atkinson was acquired by the Flyers during the 2021 offseason and he immediately made an impact with his new team. He racked up 23 goals and 50 points during the 2021-22 season, good enough for second in both categories.

A neck injury and subsequent surgery has kept him on the sidelines all season. Though he’s still got two more years on his contract at a $5.8 million cap hit, so the Flyers will have a decision to make about his future with the club.

So what should the Flyers do with Cam Atkinson?


Atkinson was arguably the team’s best forward during the 2021-22 campaign and a $5.8 cap hit isn’t egregious if he can hover around a 50-point pace for the next couple seasons.

More than anything, the biggest issue when it comes to keeping Cam Atkinson is the logjam at right wing. With Travis Konecny, Owen Tippett and Wade Allison all succeeding during his absence and top prospects Tyson Foerster and Bobby Brink knocking on the door, there isn’t enough space for everybody. This team really hasn’t missed a beat positionally in his absence this season, so unless he’s accept a full-time move to left wing, there just may not be enough room to keep him.

The ace up his sleeve is his past relationship with John Tortorella. His job this season was supposed to be building bridges between the roster and the new head coach, a role he never really got to fill due to his absence. Is that a role that still needs to be filled? Possibly. If the Flyers go hunting for a top free agent or two during the offseason, there may need to be some convincing to join the team.


There were rumors earlier in the season that the Flyers may be considering a buyout of Kevin Hayes’ contract, which would’ve been a disaster. It cleared practically no money in the short term and left a major amount of dead space on the books for years to come. It’s a move so dumb even this current version of the Flyers’ front office wouldn’t consider it.

Though when it comes to Atkinson, a buyout is much more favorable for the team. According to CapFriendly’s buyout calculator, removing his deal would go as follows-

That’s $3.5 in savings for the next two years, with only a $1.75 knock against the cap from 2025 to 2027, a number that should be negligible by that time with the salary cap hopefully on the rise by then. For a team that will be desperate for every penny this summer, $3.5 million in freed space isn’t anything to turn their nose up at.


Obviously, whenever possible, you want to avoid a buyout, but in the case of Atkinson, a trade isn’t a particularly viable option. Atkinson turns 34 in June, has two years left on his contract at a $5.8 million cap hit and missed the entire season with his neck injury. That’s not exactly peak conditions for a trade, especially in the flat cap era. If they are “rebuilding” there’d be no reason to add a pick or extra asset to move him, which may be the only way to practically move him.

There’s probably still some interest in the guy as a leader, there are probably few better human beings in the league than Atkinson, but with his playing future still in limbo as of this writing, there may not even been a team willing to take a shot in the dark.


The Flyers have 99 problems this summer and a Cam Atkinson buyout could very well be one. It does feel relatively unlikely it’s a path they actually go down, but it makes enough sense to believe that it could be a reality.

It all depends on what exactly their plan is when it comes to a roster overhaul. If they’re serious about adding talent during the offseason and spare no expense to do so, Atkinson should be as good as gone. If they play hot potato with their one-foot-in-one-foot-out approach like they did last summer and they’re not going to go out of their way to fix the roster, an Atkinson return seems pretty likely, despite the positional chaos it may cause.

Given the league-wide cap struggles and a season lost to injuries, Atkinson’s trade value is practically non-existent. It’s not a knock on Atkinson, it’s just the truth.

A buyout give the the Flyers a bit of extra breathing room, even if they don’t dip their toes in free agency. They’ve got Cam York, Morgan Frost and Noah Cates to re-sign as well as a Carter Hart extension coming next summer and Chuck Fletcher didn’t exactly leave them in a great place financially, so finding practical ways to clear an extra couple million could do wonders for the franchise elsewhere, even if it’s not the most popular or perfect option at face value.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

photo credit: Getty Images


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