Flyers

2019 NHL free agency: An outlook for the Flyers

2019 NHL free agency: An outlook for the Flyers

NHL free agency will be upon us Monday and it was expected to be a significant period for the Flyers.

Now? Not so much.

In his first offseason as Flyers general manager, Chuck Fletcher wasted no time getting to work, acquiring Kevin Hayes, Matt Niskanen, Justin Braun and Tyler Pitlick, while parting ways with Radko Gudas, Andrew MacDonald, Ryan Hartman and David Schlemko.

The bulk of Fletcher's work has been completed, but that doesn't mean he's done. Firstly, don't ever rule out a trade. Secondly, the Flyers are still looking to add.

What might that be?

Let's break down the team's outlook entering Monday:

Cap world

The Flyers have around $15.7 million in cap space. A significant amount of that money will go to the team's four remaining restricted free agents. When the Flyers traded restricted free agent Hartman to the Stars Monday, much of the deal was about cost certainty.

"The cap coming in at $81.5 million — at one point, there were projections it would be $83 million," Fletcher said Wednesday. "We're making plans all year and then the $81.5 million is a little bit of a curveball at the 11th hour and we had to adjust. We're just trying to keep as much flexibility as we can to get our RFAs signed and to make sure we can accrue as much cap space as possible going into the season, keep as much and during the season.

"You can accrue it quickly and just to give ourselves that opportunity — whether it's this summer, in the fall or next winter — to improve our team."

The RFAs

Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Scott Laughton and Nicolas Aube-Kubel have to be re-signed. 

"It may take some time," Fletcher said Wednesday. "Just looking around the league, it seems to be a common theme."

Could Konecny receive a bridge deal? How much will Provorov demand? Will Laughton file for arbitration?

We will have to wait and see, but Fletcher said his RFAs are a priority right now and those projected deals will impact what the Flyers can do in free agency.

The Flyers will have to work around projections. As we noted, Fletcher made his improvements ahead of free agency. Spending from July 1 and on is not as realistic or needed.

Add a winger?

The Flyers appear to have an open job on the third line, specifically at wing.

There are, of course, internal candidates. Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Aube-Kubel, Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev and Isaac Ratcliffe will all push for the Flyers' roster in training camp.

Will Fletcher make the climb steeper by acquiring a forward in free agency?

"We have plenty of cap space to bring our players back; whether we have enough to go add another player, I’m not sure about that," Fletcher said. "Going into the summer, we had certain priorities — obviously re-sign our own RFAs, find a goaltender to play with Carter [Hart], get a No. 2 centerman and add one to two quality defensemen. We were able to achieve a lot of things. 

"Whether we're able to add another winger or another forward — we're certainly going to have to add some forwards here for depth and to compete in our bottom six — but whether we go after another high-end player, that wasn't a very big priority for our team."

Fletcher will more so look to add organizational depth on defense and possibly a role forward to provide the Flyers with greater options come training camp.

"I just know that every summer, you put your roster together and when you come to training camp, inevitably there are players that positively surprise you and then there are players that maybe are a little bit disappointing," Fletcher said. "So you don't always know the holes that you may end up really having. 

"If we start the season with what we have now, and knowing that we have a pretty good chance of adding a few more players for depth, we'd be fine, we'd be happy. We'd be a significantly deeper team, a more talented team and we'll certainly have opportunities — whether it's the next week, training camp there will be roster decisions every team has to make, and then during the season you can make tweaks, as well."

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2020 NHL draft lottery: Rangers win No. 1 pick, also known as the Alexis Lafreniere sweepstakes

2020 NHL draft lottery: Rangers win No. 1 pick, also known as the Alexis Lafreniere sweepstakes

The Metropolitan Division was pretty loaded in 2019-20.

On Monday night, it got even better for the 2020-21 season.

That's because the Rangers won the first overall pick in Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL draft lottery. Alexis Lafreniere, a 6-foot-1, 193-pound winger, is the consensus No. 1 pick. The 18-year-old is a dynamic scorer who put up 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) in 52 games for the QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic during the 2019-20 season.

In the 2019-20 NHL regular season, four Metropolitan Division clubs (Capitals, Flyers, Penguins, Hurricanes) had top-10 point percentages and six (Capitals, Flyers, Penguins, Hurricanes, Islanders, Blue Jackets) finished among the top 15. The Rangers, not exactly lacking talent (Artemi Panarin is a Hart Memorial Trophy finalist and Mika Zibanejad scored 41 goals), were in the top 20 but bowed out of the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament during the best-of-five qualifying round.

Not only is the Metropolitan Division deep, but it has also landed some big picks in recent past. In the 2019 draft, the Devils took Jack Hughes No. 1 overall and the Rangers selected Kaapo Kakko No. 2 overall. In the 2018 draft, the Hurricanes nabbed Andrei Svechnikov with the second overall pick, while the 2017 draft saw Nico Hischier go No. 1 to the Devils and Nolan Patrick No. 2 to the Flyers.

With the 2020 draft tentatively scheduled for Oct. 9-10, the Rangers are expected to add Lafreniere to a young, building picture. For Flyers fans, New York landing the No. 1 pick was probably the lesser of two evils. The Penguins had as fair of a chance (12.5 percent) at Lafreniere but the Rangers were the lucky ones to have their ping-pong ball selected.

The Flyers are happy to not be worrying about the lottery. They open the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday as the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed.

Below is the 2020 draft order for the first 15 picks, while the remaining 16 first-round selections will be determined by the results of the playoffs.

1. Rangers
2. Kings
3. Senators
4. Red Wings
5. Senators
6. Ducks
7. Devils
8. Sabres
9. Wild
10. Jets
11. Predators
12. Panthers
13. Hurricanes
14. Oilers
15. Penguins

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Flyers Talk podcast: What to like and dislike about Canadiens matchup

Flyers Talk podcast: What to like and dislike about Canadiens matchup

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra and Jordan Hall discuss everything about the team's first-round matchup with the Canadiens.

From our series X-factors to the importance of Jakub Voracek's status, let's dive in:

1:30 — We know the Flyers' first-round schedule; what sticks out?

4:05 — Could we see Brian Elliott during the series?

7:30 — Picking our Flyers X-factor

12:05 — Picking our Canadiens X-factor

16:50 — Analyzing the Voracek situation

20:15 — Why we like the Flyers' chances in this series

 26:00 — Why there could be some concerns about this matchup for the Flyers

 28:55 — The start of the series will be crucial

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