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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Flyers at Avalanche: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Avalanche: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

As one of the NHL's best teams since Nov. 1 (12-3-4, 28 points), the Flyers now face a new challenge.

Alain Vigneault's undermanned group begins a three-game road trip Wednesday as the Flyers (17-8-5) visit the Avalanche (19-8-3).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: Pepsi Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Network
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers are without Travis Konecny (concussion, out indefinitely), Oskar Lindblom (upper body, out tonight), Philippe Myers (back spasms, day to day), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger, out approximately four weeks) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder, out indefinitely).

"Injuries are a part of a season. You have to expect it," Vigneault said Monday. "Then you need somebody else to step up."

More than ever this season, the Flyers will be looking to Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes and James van Riemsdyk to produce among the forwards.

The Flyers are 10-2-1 when Hayes records a point and 9-1-0 when van Riemsdyk records a point.

• Not only are the Flyers severely shorthanded Wednesday night, but they're also facing the NHL's highest-scoring club. The Avalanche lead the league with 3.70 goals per game. Their top line of Nathan MacKinnon (47 points in 30 games), Mikko Rantanen (18 points in 14 games) and Gabriel Landeskog (nine points in 14 games) is scary.

"We know going into Colorado, we're going to have to be careful versus their top unit," Vigneault said Tuesday. "[Monday] night, they seemed to load up. That's one of the best lines in hockey."

• Carter Hart will face the Avalanche for the first time in his career.

The 21-year-old goalie is 8-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .928 save percentage over his last 12 starts.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Tyler Pitlick
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Joel Farabee
David Kase-Mikhail Vorobyev-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

 

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With Oskar Lindblom injury, Flyers call up prospect David Kase from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms

With Oskar Lindblom injury, Flyers call up prospect David Kase from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Updated: 2:08 p.m.

This is not how the Flyers wanted to open their three-game road trip.

Playing against the NHL's highest-scoring team Wednesday night, the Flyers will be without their two leading goal-scorers Travis Konecny (concussion) and Oskar Lindblom (upper body).

The Flyers knew on Monday they would not have the services of Konecny. Lindblom was added to the list of injuries Wednesday afternoon.

Konecny and Lindblom have a team-high 11 goals apiece. The 22-year-old Konecny leads the Flyers with 28 points, while the 23-year-old Lindblom is projected to finish with 30 goals after a promising rookie season in which he scored 17. The Flyers are also without forwards Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger, out approximately four weeks) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder, out indefinitely).

Earlier in the morning, the Flyers called up David Kase from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. He will now make his NHL debut tonight against the Avalanche (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN).

Kase, 22, is a smaller (5-10/168) but quick, hard-working winger who has six points (three goals, three assists) in 21 games with the Phantoms. The 2015 fifth-round pick is constantly active with his bursts of speed and quality skill.

Originally, it was unlikely he would play without any practice. However, the Flyers need him, hence why he was summoned to Denver this morning. After they play Colorado, the Flyers visit the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and the Jets on Sunday (5 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

The Flyers had the roster space and cap space for another forward. Lindblom missed Monday's skills practice for maintenance but practiced Tuesday. Joel Farabee also sat out Monday after getting his wisdom teeth taken out but practiced Tuesday and said he's good to go.

When Lindblom returns, Kase, Chris Stewart or Mikhail Vorobyev will serve as the Flyers' lone extra forward.

Kase becomes the ninth rookie to play for the Flyers this season. Alain Vigneault's team is 12-3-4 with 28 points since Nov. 1, tied for most in the NHL.

Here are the projected forward lines for tonight, according to Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Charlie O'Connor of The Athletic:

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Tyler Pitlick
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Joel Farabee
David Kase-Mikhail Vorobyev-Chris Stewart

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