Each day until July 1, the day NHL free agency begins, NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Boruk, Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall will analyze some of the league's impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.
Over time, general manager Ron Hextall has freed his club from its salary cap dungeon, setting the Flyers up with greater financial flexibility this offseason. The team has $21.7 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly.com.
As the Flyers look to take a step forward in 2018-19, free agency will provide Hextall an avenue to fill specific holes and supplement his mix of veterans and youth. While the team hasn't been major players on the market under Hextall in the past, the GM indicated earlier this month the Flyers could be active this summer.
Hextall said the Flyers wouldn't entertain a seven-year contract on a free agent, but he expressed a desire to add a veteran or two depending on the term.
With that said, let's look at some possible fits and how/if they make sense for the Flyers.
Last team: Canadiens/Maple Leafs
2017-18 cap hit: $6 million
If you’re not in the market for Valtteri Filppula, then there’s not much of a reason to pursue Plekanec, who hails from the same Czech town as Jakub Voracek. The former Canadiens center will turn 36 in the first month of the season, and he’s already publicly stated he wants to return to Montreal since his kids speak French and they attend a French-speaking school. I’m not sure you will find very many of those in Philadelphia.
Plekanec’s numbers have also taken a sharp dip over the past four seasons as he finished 2017-18 with just six goals and 26 points, which also included playing the final month of the season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Plekanec plays a well-rounded two-way game, much like Filppula does, but he’s a middle-of-the-road faceoff guy and saw limited ice time following the trade to Toronto. Still, Plekanec stepped up and performed well in the Leafs’ seven-game series against the Bruins, proving he can still elevate his game during playoff time.
If plan A and even plan B don’t pan out, then Plekanec can serve as that next option if the Canadiens indeed are no longer willing to bring back the 14-year veteran, but signing him only on the Flyers' term and nowhere close to the two-year, $12 million contract that just recently expired.
Plekanec is a hard no for me because he's not exactly better than what the Flyers already had in Filppula or even Jori Lehtera at this point of his career.
Plus, all signs point to Plekanec returning to Montreal. He had a career-worst season in 2017-18 with six goals and 26 points and was largely ineffective with the Maple Leafs after the trade to Toronto.
In 17 games with the Leafs, Plekanec had just two assists. He was a little better in the postseason but not by much.
If this was a few years ago, then Plekanec would make sense. But now? He's too old and too slow. The Flyers can do better from within than adding Plekanec from outside.
Hextall on Friday mentioned how free agents must be above the Flyers' line for the team to consider them, essentially saying the club will compare that player to what the organization has internally.
"We went down our list and we drew a line," Hextall said. "Here's the line where it's not an upgrade from what we have in the system, so we're not going to go out and sign guys to three- or four-year deals that are no better than either the players that we have on our team or the kids that we have that our close to being ready."
Plekanec would not be an upgrade for the Flyers. Hextall has said the Flyers look to get younger and better each year. Plekanec turns 36 in October and has seen a steady drop in production.
The Flyers can improve down the middle by taking different avenues.