Flyers

Jones chatter, possible target to watch, more in 3 Flyers thoughts

Flyers

With the Stanley Cup Final underway and the major NHL award winners unveiled Tuesday night, the 2020-21 season continues to near the finish line.

That means the offseason is getting closer to being in full swing, so let's get into our latest three Flyers thoughts.

1. Jostling for Jones?

This season, only five NHL defensemen played every game and 25 or minutes per game: Drew Doughty, Brent Burns, Darnell Nurse, Seth Jones and Ivan Provorov.

Nurse was the only one to play in the postseason and his team didn't win a game as the Oilers were swept by the Jets during the first round. Any No. 1 defenseman needs help and any team that wants to contend needs some semblance of balance on the back end.

Look at the Hurricanes, who were tied for the fourth-fewest goals allowed per game this season at 2.39. Carolina was able to allocate minutes evenly between Dougie Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce, all three of whom received votes for the James Norris Memorial Trophy.

The thought of the 26-year-old Jones and the 24-year-old Provorov on the same pair? No deep dive is required to see why that possibility should intrigue the Flyers and their fans. The weight that Jones could take off of the Flyers' entire group of blueliners would have a dynamic impact.

In his latest 31 Thoughts column Monday, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported he's "still hearing a lot of Philadelphia and Jones. The Flyers are definitely working at it." The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reiterated Wednesday he believes the Flyers make sense for Jones.

 

Jones is considered one of the league's top trade targets this offseason. On one of our Flyers Talk podcasts this month, we debated the team's top-three untouchables in trade talks this offseason. The Flyers will be open-minded on everything, but my gut tells me Joel Farabee will be as close to an untouchable as they get. The organization — from management to the coaching and scouting staffs — is extremely high on the 21-year-old winger. For many reasons, I expect the Flyers — who have a solid variety of assets — to work around Farabee.

More: Hamilton not a 'top target' for Flyers? Here's what we make of it

2. Stanley Cup target

A guy playing in the Stanley Cup Final who could really help the Flyers next season?

Blake Coleman.

The pending unrestricted free-agent winger has a pair of 20-goal seasons on his résumé and possesses plenty of goal-prevention ingredients. The 29-year-old provides depth scoring, positional versatility and proficiency on the penalty kill. Those qualities are why he has fit in so well with a winning group like the Lightning.

Maybe those aren't eye-popping qualities to some, but the fact is the Flyers allowed the most goals in hockey this season (3.52 per game) and had the second-worst PK (73.1 percent). They need help there this offseason.

Coleman is making only $1.8 million, so he's due for a raise and will have suitors but he shouldn't take the roof off of the market.

3. Simmonds staying home

Wayne Simmonds on Tuesday re-signed with the Maple Leafs for two years and an average annual value of $900,000.

Good for Simmonds, who has played on expiring contracts over the past three seasons, suiting up for the Flyers, Devils, Predators, Sabres and Maple Leafs.

Simmonds, who turns 33 years old in August, is a native of Scarborough, Ontario, so playing for Toronto has been a homecoming. For a two-time 30-plus goal scorer, Simmonds never truly got his longer-term payday, but two more years in Toronto must feel good.

Simmonds will be a key presence on a Maple Leafs team that is long overdue for a playoff run.

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