Flyers

NHL, Flyers fans going crazy after latest news on return-to-play format

NHL, Flyers fans going crazy after latest news on return-to-play format

It’s a wonderful day in the world of hockey. 

Tuesday afternoon, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman elaborated on some of the best news fans have heard in a long time … hockey is most likely returning. While a detailed layout of the league’s Phase 2 had already been released earlier in the week, this is the first time Bettman, himself, spoke about the subject

There is a tentative timeline in place for such things to begin — but everything seems more tangible now than ever. 

If there had never been a stoppage in play during March and the season progressed normally, only two teams would have been left in the race for the Stanley Cup. Now, with a promising future and the approved 24-team playoff format, we’re looking ahead to summer hockey. 

Which honestly doesn’t seem too bad, right? 

We know there are many more steps that need to be put in place before the playoffs do take off, but that doesn’t mean the excitement is going to dwindle. In fact, this has been one of the most optimistic days on social media since the league was put on hold 76 days ago — especially with Flyers fans. 

Here are some of the best instant reactions to Bettman’s press conference — feelings you are probably all experiencing now, as well.

Hang on Flyers fans, I have a feeling we're about to have one crazy summer! 

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Will Flyers re-sign Justin Braun, Derek Grant when NHL free agency rolls around?

Will Flyers re-sign Justin Braun, Derek Grant when NHL free agency rolls around?

July 1 came and went rather quietly in the hockey world. Annually, the day is filled with players signing new contracts and joining new teams as the free agency period officially opens.

This year, that was obviously not the case. As the NHL and NHLPA continue to work toward a resumption and eventual conclusion of the 2019-20 season, the entry draft and free agency must wait.

According to a report by TSN's Bob McKenzie, both sides are looking at Nov. 1 being the new July 1.

The offseason will be different and challenging considering the times. The salary cap floor, which typically climbs each year, is expected to remain flat at $81.5 million. In an excellent article published Wednesday, TSN's Frank Seravalli highlighted the key questions and challenges facing free agency, while outlining his top 50 pending unrestricted free agents.

On Seravalli's list were two current Flyers: Justin Braun at No. 19 and Derek Grant at No. 41. Will the Flyers re-sign them? With the league's return-to-play 24-team tournament still to be held, a lot can change from now until Nov. 1, but let's break down the Flyers' outlook for both of these players.

Braun

The case for Braun is interesting and the chances of the Flyers re-signing the experienced defenseman feel like 50-50. Braun, a stay-at-home blueliner who specializes in killing plays, helped stabilize the Flyers on the back end and improved their goal-prevention efforts (which were a major problem last season).

However, the Flyers will be cognizant of his age. Braun is 33 years old and made $3.8 million this season. At the current stage of his career, what will Braun be eyeing for his next deal? One would think he'd have to look for a cheaper price if he wants more years on his new contract, something that can be attractive to a veteran player eyeing job security.

The Flyers, though, have solid youth and depth at his position, along with a nice stable of blue-line prospects in the system. Understandably, for those reasons the Flyers might be wary of dedicating years to an older defenseman.

If Braun is willing to be pretty flexible in his terms, the Flyers shouldn't be opposed to bringing him back. He has made them better in 2019-20. But if push comes to shove a bit, especially in a tighter offseason, the Flyers may have to say thank you and move forward with their youngsters or another option.

Grant

The initial impression of the Grant trade deadline acquisition was good rental for cheap.

What made Grant such a cost-effective move by general manager Chuck Fletcher? Grant, 29 years old at the time, could help the playoff-hungry Flyers down the stretch with only a $700,000 cap hit and no years left on his contract.

Grant made such a positive impact in his seven-game regular-season audition with the Flyers that they'll absolutely consider re-signing him. The 6-foot-3, 206-pound center also delivered a timely career year of 15 goals and 25 points between his time with the Ducks and Flyers, setting himself up for a nice pay increase.

Grant should be appealing to bring back for the Flyers because he can play down the middle and on the wing; his ability to move around makes him less likely to block a Flyers prospect at a specific position. If Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) is healthy in 2020-21 and the Flyers are deeper at center, Grant can help on the wing. If Patrick's situation remains uncertain and the Flyers lack depth, Grant can bolster things by playing his natural position.

The 24-team tournament could really factor into the Grant equation. If the 30-year-old has an influential tourney and the Flyers go on a run, he could win over the club. He's a quality bottom-six guy who won't require a hefty contract that severely handcuffs the Flyers next season or down the line.

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Flyers Talk podcast: NHL hub cities, free agency, more

Flyers Talk podcast: NHL hub cities, free agency, more

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall analyze the team's decisions for free agency and the playoffs.

From roster talk to the latest on the 24-team tournament, let's dive in:

0:45 — The latest on where the Flyers might play

4:15 — July is much different this time around

7:00 — Will the Flyers re-sign Derek Grant and Justin Braun?

21:20 — Keep an eye on Morgan Frost

26:00 — What to expect from Nate Thompson

30:15 — Appreciating Sean Couturier's faceoff excellence

36:35 — Katie's birthday is Monday, July 6!

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Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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