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Ron Hextall would use an offer sheet, but is William Nylander worth it?

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Ron Hextall would use an offer sheet, but is William Nylander worth it?

VOORHEES, N.J. — In the coming weeks, speculation surrounding William Nylander will only intensify.

The Maple Leafs' restricted free agent has yet to agree to a contract and his holdout continues through the first two weeks of the regular season. With the Leafs jumping out to a 6-2-0 start, they’re also the highest-scoring team in the league, averaging 4.13 goals. Right now, the current Leafs show no signs of missing Nylander’s contributions, even with the 22-year-old left winger coming off back-to-back 60-point seasons.

The Maple Leafs and Nylander have until Dec. 1 to reach an agreement, or he’s ineligible to play for the remainder of the season.

There’s a feeling that if a stalemate continues into November, another team could present an RFA offer sheet or the Leafs will entertain offers for a possible trade. Toronto has a real need to strengthen its blue line and a Nylander-for-a-defenseman blockbuster deal could ultimately benefit the Maple Leafs in the long run.

With cap space to accommodate and draft picks to cover the required compensation, the Flyers could step in and offer sheet Nylander. While general manager Ron Hextall won’t comment on signing a player currently property of another team, he did provide insight into signing any potential RFA to an offer sheet.

“Depends on the fit, depends on the player, depends what type of situation the other team is in,” Hextall said. “There’s a lot of factors that come into offer sheets, and the price is typically pretty high. For another team not to match it, you’re going to be paying a high price, so the reward on what you’re going to pay out in terms of dollars and cap space and what you’ve got to give up if the other team’s not matching it, chances are, you’re probably overpaying.”

In 2012, the Flyers whipped up the biggest offer sheet in NHL history when then-GM Paul Holmgren signed Predators defenseman Shea Weber to a record 14-year, $110-million offer. Holmgren thought the structure of the contract would discourage general manager David Poile from matching the Flyers' offer.

But the Predators didn’t balk. They matched the offer, sparing the Flyers from forking over four first-round picks. In case you’re wondering, those first-round picks turned out to be Samuel Morin, Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov and German Rubtsov, so you can decide whether the Flyers are better off with those guys or with a 33-year-old Weber who’s been battling injuries over the past year.

At that time, Weber seemed to be worth the hefty compensation: A cornerstone shutdown defenseman at 26 years old in his prime years. After all, the Flyers surrendered two first-round picks and two former first-round selections when they dealt Joffrey Lupul and Luca Sbisa to acquire Chris Pronger from the Ducks in 2009. Weber was considered the replacement to Pronger, who suffered a career-ending head injury in October 2011.

Holmgren stepped down two years later, turning the general managerial duties over to Hextall, and part of the reasoning was how he was perceived across the league as a result of the Weber offer sheet. Holmgren described how things changed to writer Jay Greenberg in the Flyers' 50th Anniversary Edition.

“Even though [RFA offers] are within the rules, they are really frowned upon,” Holmgren said. “My relationship with a lot of other general managers changed. It’s hard to do this job if you have a bad relationship, or at least, a perceived bad relationship, with any number of GMs.”

Interestingly, signing a player to an offer sheet wouldn’t deter Hextall, who admitted he would utilize every resource within the CBA to gain an advantage.

“It’s business. A guy takes a player off waivers, it’s business,” Hextall said. “It’s within the rules. The rules are the rules. It’s the rules we’re given. Player wants to hold out, or if we want to keep a player out of camp that’s not signed, those are the rules. That’s business, not personal. To me, none of that stuff is personal.”

So the question going forward is not whether Hextall would exercise the offer sheet option, but if a player like Nylander is actually worth it. Any offer sheet over $10.1 million in value, which is where the Flyers would have to go on a multi-year deal, the compensation is once again four first-round picks.

Perhaps you can forfeit future picks for a 25-minute-per-game defenseman, but it’s simply a price way too steep for a skilled winger like Nylander.

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Alain Vigneault asked for something and has yet to get it in Flyers preseason

Alain Vigneault asked for something and has yet to get it in Flyers preseason

Alain Vigneault put out his hands as if he wanted a hug.

The head coach was speaking passionately about training camp competition.

He pleaded for one thing.

"You need surprises," Vigneault said last Saturday after Day 2 of Flyers training camp. "We need some of these young kids to step up and force us into some decisions. That's how your team gets better and we're going to give them an opportunity to do that."

Vigneault hasn't gotten any surprises … yet.

The Flyers could use them. They have a clear opening on their third line. They even have two when you factor in Nolan Patrick's injury. Tyler Pitlick, a projected bottom-six guy, is also hurt. Their defensive pairings are far from sacrosanct. 

Spots are everywhere.

But three exhibition games down, the Flyers have heard only knocks on the door.

Nobody has barged in.

"The battle for the bottom six is, in my mind, fully on," Vigneault said Thursday after morning skate. "It's good. We've got some decisions to make in those positions."

While Morgan Frost's preseason got off to a positive start in Thursday night's 3-1 loss (see observations), the 20-year-old playmaker failed to crack the score sheet playing between James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek.

Joel Farabee has impressed during camp and shown flashes in two games, but hasn't blown away the rest. Similar to Frost, Farabee played with high-end talent Thursday — Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier — and couldn't capitalize with production.

German Rubtsov looked a bit tired Thursday and justifiably so as he was playing his third game in four days. The 21-year-old center has done the little things well.

Mikhail Vorobyev, last year's preseason darling (six points in six games), has played not-so-glamorous minutes and on the penalty kill.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel had one of the better performances in the second preseason game but was quiet on the third line and second-unit power play Thursday.

Isaac Ratcliffe brought plenty of intrigue into camp but progression in the AHL will be first on his plate.

Connor Bunnaman has shown promise but seems destined for his second season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, as does Carsen Twarynski.

The older roster hopefuls haven't crushed the kids, either. Andy Andreoff has been inconsistent through two games, Chris Stewart fought in the opener and Kurtis Gabriel is hurt.

The Flyers' four preseason goals have come from van Riemsdyk, Matt Niskanen, Michael Raffl and Chris Bigras.

The remaining preseason slate will be amplified, growing in importance and starting Saturday night against the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center.

"One of the things I've found throughout the years is people say that we make the decisions, but we really don't make the decisions," Vigneault said Monday. "The players make the decisions for us by how they play, how they continue to improve.

"As camp moves forwards, competition is going to get better, it's going to get more demanding on everybody. They'll make the decisions for us by how they play, how they compete and how they perform."

Vigneault asked for surprises.

With four exhibition games left, who's going to give him one?

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Prospects get their shot, competition still up for grabs, more from Flyers' preseason loss to Bruins

Prospects get their shot, competition still up for grabs, more from Flyers' preseason loss to Bruins

BOX SCORE

The Flyers are winless in the preseason through three games after losing to the Bruins, 3-1, Thursday night.

They haven't scored on the power play and have just four goals total. It's the preseason, though, so nothing to freak out about.

The Flyers have four exhibition games remaining.

Let's get into some observations from the third:

• Morgan Frost was denied a few times in front, including this absolute robbery by Jaroslav Halak.

Frost didn't put up numbers offensively but he showed his skill and was actually at his best on the forecheck. He played hard and didn't look out of place defensively, which is a major plus. The 20-year-old was a positive in his first preseason action.

• Joel Farabee had a so-so game. He created room in front of the net on Matt Niskanen's goal but didn't stand out. It would have been nice to see Farabee or Frost finish some scoring chances. Production will win you a job and on a night when those two prospects played with high-end NHL talent, they didn't produce. The two haven't hurt themselves, but the Flyers will want to see more.

• Claude Giroux looked like himself in his first preseason game. He slipped a pretty pass to Niskanen for the Flyers' only goal. One thing the 32-year-old defenseman provides is sneaky offensive ability, which the Flyers didn't get from their older blueliners last season. Niskanen can help Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov. 

• Speaking of defensemen, Justin Braun has been good. General manager Chuck Fletcher and head coach Alain Vigneault have praised his active stick and we've seen it consistently break up plays.

• The Bruins made a couple of sharp plays on both goals against Brian Elliott, who performed well with 22 saves in two periods of work.

Alex Lyon played the third frame and allowed a breakaway goal.

• The Flyers' third line of Andy Andreoff, German Rubtsov and Nicolas Aube-Kubel was important to watch because all three players are vying for a bottom-six spot. The group was quiet but Andreoff, who was hardly visible in Tuesday's loss, looked better. He was active, fast and opportunistic offensively, creating a chance for Frost early in the game.

Let's be honest, though, nobody has knocked the door down like Mikhail Vorobyev did last preseason, which makes the final four exhibition games that more important (see story).

• Another look at the monstrous scoreboard:

• The Flyers practice Friday in Voorhees, New Jersey, before welcoming the Rangers Saturday for their fourth exhibition game (7 p.m./NBCSP+).

Travis Konecny is expected to make his preseason debut (see story). Let's see if he can be a spark.

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