Sunday’s report from SportsNet Canada’s Chris Johnson that the Flyers will take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky on July 1 (barring he’s still unsigned) certainly raised a few eyebrows around the hockey community in Philadelphia (see story).
Bobrovsky would command the largest contract ever for a Flyers goaltender and it could hamper the team from addressing other areas.
If you’re not too keen on the idea of the Flyers making a long-term commitment to Bobrovsky at $10-11 million per season, which could inevitably serve as a blockade to Carter Hart’s path to the NHL (much like the signing of Ilya Bryzgalov), then the Flyers could spend their free agent dollars elsewhere with other holes to fill.
Here’s a look at some potential options:
Mark Stone, RW (Ottawa Senators)
Even if defenseman Erik Karlsson hits the market on July 1, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least bit if Stone drew more interest from across the league. For one, the 26-year-old right wing is entering the prime years of his career having already produced four 20-goal seasons with the Senators. He’s smart, instinctive, quick, is rarely out of place on the ice and is versatile enough to play in every situation — including on the much-needed penalty kill.
Stone was in his final year of arbitration before ultimately agreeing to a one-year, $7.35-million contract with the Sens, who are clearly in a rebuild mode. Don’t be surprised if Stone is moved before the trade deadline as he will command quite a bit for any contending team. However, if the Flyers elect to move on from Wayne Simmonds, then there will be an opportunity to fill a void at right wing, where Stone would be a great fit.
This might be the most "Mark Stone goal" that Mark Stone has ever scored. pic.twitter.com/ngP959g964— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) November 18, 2018
Matt Duchene, C (Ottawa Senators)
I’m not convinced Nolan Patrick is ready to step up and be the No. 2 center the Flyers need — a player that can score 55-60 points a season. Senators top center Matt Duchene would be that guy. My guess is that the Senators retain either Duchene or Stone, but I certainly can’t envision a situation where they lock up both players. Duchene has produced six 20-goal seasons but struggled much like Nathan McKinnon when they were teammates in Colorado, and he’s not the most defensive-minded center with a plus/minus numbers that is reflective of that.
Still, the 28-year-old Duchene is immensely talented as the Flyers found out when he scored a game-winner, batting a rebounded shot out of the air on the backhand side.
With 22 points in the month of November, Matt Duchene has been clutch to say the least! No surprise here but his game winner against the Flyers is our @Bridgestone Play of the Month! pic.twitter.com/QQCpMhDC0k— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) November 30, 2018
Semyon Varlamov, G (Colorado Avalanche)
I fully anticipate Sergei Bobrovsky to get six years and at least $60 million wherever he signs, and whether or not the Flyers feel Hart is ready next season or not, the team could still benefit from having an established veteran. There are very, very few solid goaltending options heading into next summer, but Varlamov is in the final season of a five-year, $29-million contract he inked in 2014.
He bounced back from a disappointing 2016-17 season with a .920 save percentage is helping lead the Avs back to playoff contention. If you can get Varlamov on a two-to-three year deal, and you may have to overpay a little, then he could help stabilize the position until Hart is deemed ready.
Anton Stralman, D (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Karlsson will be the big ticket free agent defenseman, but you're paying a high premium for a marquee name while risking that Karlsson’s best years are already behind him. I thought Steve Yzerman’s signing of Stralman in the summer of 2014 was one of the more underrated moves by the Lightning GM in propelling the organization into one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
A much-coveted right-handed defenseman Stralman just goes out there and does his job and rarely puts his team in a position of weakness. He’s smart with his stick and uses it to his advantage, rarely commits penalties, and would be a perfect compliment to Ivan Provorov on the penalty kill. Stralman will be 33 next season, so teams will have to be cautious regarding the terms of his deal. Tampa would love to retain Stralman, but they have other commitments which will force them to make some tough decisions.
Anton Stralman dives to bury the puck and put the Lightning up 2-0! pic.twitter.com/uC6fx7aBzD— HD365 (@HockeyDaily365) December 17, 2017
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