It is probably the worst kept secret in the NHL that the Philadelphia Flyers are looking to add a defenseman before next season. After the untimely retirement of Matt Niskanen and no real replacement, the Flyers went through a spiraling series of unfortunate events that left no real defenseman capable of holding a top-pairing role.
With an unstable blue line — that might get even worse once the Seattle Kraken snatches someone away through the expansion draft — GM Chuck Fletcher is keeping his eye on any player that can make a pokecheck and preferably holds his stick on his right side. Most recently rumored to be calling Columbus, hollering for Seth Jones in Philadelphia, they might be making some alternative options if that is deemed too expensive.
One is pending unrestricted free agent Adam Larsson.
Oilers in ongoing talks with agent JP Barry over Adam Larsson contract. Will speak “a few times” this week, per source.— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) June 30, 2021
Flyers one of several teams watching negotiations closely.
Even if Edmonton and Larsson are having multiple conversations before free agency opens on July 27, the Flyers should certainly be keeping an ear to the ground and try to get at least some additions on the blue line.
The other side of the infamous one-for-one Taylor Hall trade, Larsson has certainly had quite a time in Edmonton. For the past five years, any offense that he possessed has taken a nose-dive (16 points in his last 105 games does not look that nice), but for a team that needed to be a little more responsible on the other end of the ice with a superstar ahead of him, Larsson has been above-average defensively. It has been a rare sight to see an Oilers defenseman have an expected goals share at 5-on-5 above 50 percent, but just this past season the 28-year-old Swede was able to break that barrier.
But it also doesn’t help that he’s been on the ice with the depth of the Oilers’ forwards and only with Connor McDavid for 146 of his 933 5-on-5 minutes this past season. As always, some additional context for numbers can go a long way.
In terms of what Larsson’s contract will look like, Evolving-Hockey has his most likely contract, if he signs with a new team as a UFA, as five years with a cap hit of $4.11 million. That certainly seems low for a right-handed defenseman that holds a high reputation throughout the league as a potential shutdown defender, but contracts are weird as hell with the expansion draft looming and the flat cap still in effect. It could certainly be higher than that.
The Flyers have approximately $13 million in cap space, projected by CapFriendly, and really only Travis Sanheim, Nolan Patrick, and Carter Hart as pending restricted free agents that will need new contracts. Sure, a backup goaltender is needed with Brian Elliott’s departure too, but that’s less fun. Take into consideration that realistically, at least $3 million will be lifted off the Flyers’ cap when it comes to the expansion draft (Lindblom, Gostisbehere, van Riemsdyk, who really knows?) fitting those contracts, in addition to a potential Larsson acquisition, should certainly be possible.
All we know is that they have to get somebody, right?