With the Flyers reportedly out on Johnny Gaudreau after they failed to clear money for him despite him wanting to come to Philadelphia, the team had to find some way to use the salary cap space that it cleared out on Tuesday by buying out a beloved teammate who recently beat cancer, and it turns out this is how: the Flyers have brought back Justin Braun to a one-year deal and have signed Nic Deslauriers to a four-year contract.
Elliotte Friedman was first to report it, probably.
Heating Justin Braun and Nic Deslauriers are going to PHI— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 13, 2022
Braun is someone we all know reasonably well, as the Flyers acquired him in the summer of 2019 and he played three generally acceptable years with the team before getting traded to the Rangers for a third-round pick at last season’s trade deadline. As a depth defenseman, Braun was by and large solid; at points last season, he struggled when he was asked to play on the top pair alongside Ivan Provorov (which he had to, due to the fact that Ryan Ellis is a figment of our imagination and that the Flyers don’t trust Rasmus Ristolainen with top-pair minutes despite giving up a first and second-round pick to get him and then giving him a $25 million contract extension), but that seems like it never should have been the expectation in the first place from him.
Braun’s deal is reportedly for 1 year and $1 million, which for a guy who should be a depth defenseman isn’t a problem and can be buried in the AHL if need be. Per the Flyers, Braun’s deal is for 1 year and $1.75 million, which feels a bit expensive for a guy who if all else is going well is in your press box, but it’s workable. Though, for the reasons described in the above paragraph, he could end up being the Flyers’ top-pair right-side defenseman again by accident. We’ll see. Frankly, the biggest red flag here is that Braun looked around at what he was being offered by the league and decided that the best he could do was coming back to this team, but when you gotta get the bag, you do what you do.
The new face here is Nic Deslauriers, who is an NHL vet who very much fits the “energy forward” kind of role. He can skate, he hits, and he fights. Last season, between Anaheim and Minnesota, he collected 13 points and 113 PIMs, which included 13 penalties, tied for second-most in the league according to Hockey Fights. Yep, that’s a Flyer, alright.
Seems like the Flyers had a guy like that around to fill that role already in Zack MacEwen, but I can’t imagine a contract for a guy like that will be too—
The Nic Deslauriers deal is 4 years + just under $2m/per season.— Jeff Marek (@JeffMarek) July 13, 2022
Oh. (UPDATE: Per the Flyers, the deal has an AAV of $1.75M.)
Yeah, for a fourth-liner that’s definitely bad. But, well, I mean, who knows, it can’t be that ba—
The @MarkLazerus posits a fascinating g question: who have been the most unremarkable forwards in recent NHL history?— Travis Yost (@travisyost) July 11, 2022
Looking at: heavy usage, ultra-low scoring, bleeding goals at EV.
Good on these guys for hanging on so long! pic.twitter.com/FNuex4F45t
Today has not been a good day for Chuck Fletcher and this is probably still as good as it is going to get.
Courtesy of CapFriendly, the Flyers entered today with about $3.45M worth of cap space. With these two deals taking up $3.5 million, the Flyers are left with about (/does some quick math) no cap space, with Morgan Frost, Owen Tippett, and MacEwen still due new contracts. (Not to mention the fact that the Flyers may need to find another backup goalie given that the one they thought they were going to have is being held captive in Russia.) While there’s a tiny bit of maneuvering to be done with guys on the books that can make that number a little bit bigger, there will likely need to be another move just to re-sign the guys they have already, which paints a fairly bleak picture of what’s to come.
Stay tuned for more good news.