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Taking a pre-emptive look at the offseason

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And rating a few potential moves the Flyers could make.

2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series - Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As with most Flyers fans at the moment, I am at a slight crossroads. In typical Flyers fashion, the team put us into “thinking offseason” mode halfway through the year only to pull us back in like a hooked fish with this improbable, Carter Hart-fueled, extremely on-brand Flyers run that they seem to love doing around this time (I’m thinking 2010 all over again). Which means that simultaneously, I’ve been grading potential offseason moves while also intently watching out-of-town scores hoping that the Canadiens and Blue Jackets flail themselves into the sun whilst the Flyers manage to scrape by. Now, whether or not the Flyers make the playoffs, there will still be moves made when it is all settled, and like last year’s offseason, this one is hopefully an imperatively critical turning point for this organization. The Flyers will look to blossom into playoff contenders as they had tried to under Hakstol and Hextall leading into 2018-19, but now with Chuck Fletcher at the helm, and a new coach (Gordon or otherwise). Of course, there are some new pieces of information we now have: Travis Sanheim is the real deal, the rest of the young players have been stepping up, Hextall and Hakstol were holding back the team either through stubbornness or risk-averse behavior. Therefore, the goals for this offseason, while somewhat unchanged, can be viewed in a new light. At least in my opinion, there were/are three main needs that the Flyers are most likely to address:

  1. Bringing in a center for the 2nd line, therefore reuniting Couturier with Giroux on his wing
  2. Bringing in a veteran defenseman to shore up the blue-line
  3. Bringing in a decent tandem goaltender to pair with Carter Hart

As for number three on the list, the trade for Cam Talbot has pretty much addressed that, even if the Flyers seem reluctant to actually play Talbot at the moment. With the first two criteria in mind, let’s go through and discuss some potential moves the Flyers could make. These aren’t all suggestions I personally think the Flyers should do, and are more reflections of some of the most popular opinions I’ve heard through various channels, whether it be twitter, radio, national media, or otherwise. I’ll be assessing whether or not the Flyers would be interested in it, the ability of the Flyers to actually make the move work, and lastly, whether I think they should do it:

Move #1 - Sign (potential) Free Agent D Erik Karlsson

Shoutout to Bill Matz! I know he’s a huge champion of this move, and it’s certainly a popular idea. Though, the most important thing to consider is whether Karlsson will actually hit the market. The Sharks trading for Karlsson clearly signaled them going all in for this year’s playoffs, but we don’t yet know whether or not that move will be a simple “one hit wonder”. Assuming that the CapFriendly predictions are correct, the Flyers will likely have around 20 million dollars in cap space for 2019-20 if they buyout or demote Andrew MacDonald and move on from UFA’s Brian Elliott, Michal Neuvirth, and Michael Raffl. The Flyers will more than likely re-sign Travis Konecny, Ryan Hartman, Ivan Provorov, and Travis Sanheim, and out of the four, Provorov is the only player who I think will get a fairly large contract. Cam Talbot will also have to be re-signed, but I think his deal will not be remotely close to his current 4.166 million deal. With all that being said, the Flyers would certainly have the room to sign Karlsson, even if that deal is going to be massive. Karlsson’s cap hit is currently 6.5 million, and for comparison, John Carlson has an 8 million dollar cap hit. Yeah, Karlsson is going to beat that. By a lot. I’m guessing his contract will probably be a top 5 cap hit, meaning that if the Flyers are to sign Karlsson and re-up their young players, they may not be able to make another move in free agency. Personally, I would be fine with that. Will the Flyers be fine with that? I’m not entirely sure. Though I would have to think that every GM with the space to sign Karlsson will be in on him.

Will the Flyers would be interested in it - Would have to think they would.

Can they actually do this - More than able.

Should they do it? - Absolutely.

Move #2 - Sign (Potential) Free Agent D Anton Stralman

I remember Charlie O’Connor (@charlieo_conn) mentioned Stralman’s name in an episode of BSH radio, and it would certainly be an interesting idea to pursue, given some constraints. The blue-line currently consists of Provorov, Sanheim, Gostisbehere, Myers, Gudas and Hagg, with MacDonald hanging around in the 7th spot when the Flyers play 11 forwards. If the Flyers were to sign Stralman, his contract would probably be similar to his current cap hit of 4.5 million, even if he hasn’t been the same Anton Stralman of before. His Corsi has been down, and he is 32 years old. I would not want a dead weight in Stralman blocking a spot for Samuel Morin, and for Stralman to become the new AMac. However, that being said, I think he could definitely bounce back in Philadelphia, especially if he isn’t tied down for too long. It’s easy to be singled out on a team as deep as the Lightning, especially with Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonough standing out at defense, and I wouldn’t be opposed to giving him a two year deal. But, as I said before, it would have to be for around or less than his current AAV and I wouldn’t want this move to come back to bite the Flyers. To be honest, the main thing that makes this attractive is the space to maneuver for other, more high profile, free agents who may be mentioned later…

Will the Flyers would be interested in it - Gotta have veteran presence baby!

Can they actually do this - Definitely.

Should they do it? - Maybe? It depends.

Move #3 - Sign (Most definitely going to be) Free Agent F Artemi Panarin

I think out of all the moves that I have and will list, this one would make the most sense from an organization building perspective. Panarin is a very, very good scorer who relieves pressure off the top line. Sure, you can always move Giroux back as a pivot, but I think he works best on wing and by George I want Giroux and Coots back together! It’s very clear that Panarin is going to leave Columbus in the offseason, and this gives the Flyers ample opportunity to prepare themselves for a Panarin bid. Sure, he will be expensive, but as I pointed out with Karlsson, that won’t be a problem given the right moves. If you assume the top line will be Giroux and Couturier (with preferably Konecny or Lindblom) that leaves the Flyers with many options for the second line. Personally, I think that Panarin-Patrick-Voracek sounds pretty, pretty, prettttyyyyy nice.

Will the Flyers would be interested in it - I’m almost certain they are.

Can they actually do this - Yep.

Should they do it? - Absolutely 100% yes.

Move #4 - Re-sign F Wayne Simmonds

There have been rumors and stories circling about that the Flyers are where Wayne Simmonds would prefer to end up when his time in Nashville is up. That would be quite nice in theory. In an ideal scenario, when Simmonds hits the market, he’ll sign with the Flyers for roughly the same as he currently is making, which is an AAV of 3.975. If that’s the story, do it immediately. Not even a question. Even if you’re using Simmonds on the 4th line and 2nd powerplay, what he brings to the organization goes beyond his on ice role. Yet, I personally doubt that Simmonds would take the same deal he had with the Flyers a second time around when he is on the free agent market. It’s almost certain that teams will offer Simmonds larger deals, and if that’s the case, I don’t think it would be smart to match. If Simmonds really is willing to take a discount/similar deal to stay in Philly, then that’s grand! But I really don’t think that’s going to happen. I really don’t want the Flyers offering more than 6 mil to Simmonds when they were already willing to let him go in a trade, and when he was clearly bringing less production value to the Flyers than he had in years past. It’s a tricky scenario.

Will the Flyers would be interested in it - It’s Wayne Simmonds. Of course they would be...but maybe not Fletcher.

Can they actually do this - Should be fairly simple.

Should they do it? - Probably not.

Move #5 - Offer Sheet F Brayden Point

BSH Radio has talked about this potential move, and personally, I would love this. It’s just that...well...it’s not going to happen. This is for two reasons:

  1. The Tampa Bay Lightning will probably throw the kitchen sink at Point in order to retain his services.
  2. Chuck Fletcher is a well established GM who won’t want to ruin his reputation by offer sheeting.

With the last point, I think the conspiracy/collusion argument is certainly interesting, but as it currently stands, offer sheets just don’t happen without consequences. I really don’t think Fletcher will want to face any negative repercussions of an offer sheet in the current NHL climate. Also, and probably the most relevant, I think Tampa will do anything to keep Brayden Point. They’ll make the room. Whether that makes more interesting opportunities for the Flyers will be seen, but with Point, it’s unlikely they get him.

Will the Flyers would be interested in it - Doubtedly.

Can they actually do this - It would be complicated.

Should they do it? - They should certainly try!

Drew’s Wildcard moves:

Move #6 - Acquire F Aleksander Barkov

I have an unhealthy obsession with the Flyers trading for Barkov. He’s maybe my favorite NHL player outside of Philadelphia, and I just love his game. They could certainly absorb his 5.9 million cap hit, and I would almost certainly buy a Barkov jersey on the spot. I’m not entirely sure what it would take to bring Barkov here, but my idea is this:

To Florida:

F Jakub Voracek (retaining half of salary)

Rights to F Wade Allison

Rights to D Sam Morin

A first round pick

To Philadelphia:

F Aleksander Barkov

Yes, I understand that’s giving up quite a lot, and they might not even consider that deal if they don’t even want to talk trading Barkov. But they can certainly afford to trade prospects at this stage. They are loaded in the farm system, and while I don’t advocate trading the entire farm, you can afford to thin it a little bit, especially for a player of Barkov’s quality.

Will the Flyers would be interested in it - I have no clue.

Can they actually do this - Difficult

Should they do it? - YESSIR.

Move #7 - Bring in F Morgan Frost to the NHL level

I advocated for this on an article I wrote for Chasing the Puck last summer. I wrote:

“Now here is where I differ from most projections. I legitimately think that Morgan Frost can make the team this year. Most writers are slotting in Mikhail Vorobyev into the 3C spot, as he played in the AHL last year, and is considered to be more adjusted. However, Frost has significantly increased his muscle mass and weight, and coupled with his outstanding season in Juniors last year, could very well steal that spot. I think he has a real shot if he performs well at camp.”

Based on my rating of Morgan Frost in our mid-year 25 under 25, I am still really really REALLY high on Frosty the Goal Man (trademark pending). Now, especially that we’ve seen Frost continue his play in 2018-19, I am now doubling down on Frost as having the potential to be a high caliber 1st line talent. For comparison, Connor McDavid in his final OHL season scored 120 points in 47 games. Frost has 108 points in 57 games. Now, I’m not saying that I expect Frost to be anywhere near McDavid, but that clearly places him, in my mind, in that secondary elite tier. I want Frosty here. In Philly. Please.

Note: It’s a shame that Frost essentially ended his season by cross checking an opponent to the head. That was probably unnecessary.

Will the Flyers would be interested in it - They’d love to see Frost succeed for sure, but is he ready in their eyes?.

Can they actually do this - Well...yeah, easily.

Should they do it? - Yep!

And finally...

Move #8 - Sign D Zdeno Chara

Hey, he is a free agent after this year! I mean he’d probably just retire than join a new team but you never know! He’s still good! It’s a Pronger 2.0!

That one was a joke, but how great would that be?! (Hint: very)

Let me know in the comments and on twitter what you think of the potential moves, and let me know if there’s a move you think I’ve missed!