Flyers

What the Flyers 'counted' shows the belief behind their offseason

What the Flyers 'counted' shows the belief behind their offseason

Chuck Fletcher made July 1 less stressful for himself.

As a result, he also made it less entertaining for those who love to see their team jump into the free-agent frenzy and make splashes with the rest of the 30 NHL clubs.

The Flyers made eight depth signings Monday. Nothing screamed or popped.

It's OK to be quiet on July 1.

Fletcher and the Flyers did their work ahead of the NHL free agency period. They're confident in that work. They acquired Kevin Hayes, Matt Niskanen, Justin Braun and Tyler Pitlick, while parting ways with Radko Gudas, Andrew MacDonald, Ryan Hartman and David Schlemko.

What the Flyers are just as confident in is their youth. Did the Flyers have enough around their young foundation pieces in 2018-19? 

It's a fair question.

Fletcher's offseason was about supplementing the youth and giving it the best chance to take the next step.

However …

"I don't think it's a very smart thing to box these kids out and take on additional cap responsibilities when we're going to have a lot of really good pieces that are just going to mature and grow through the system," the Flyers' general manager said via a conference call Monday.

Remember when everyone loved the Flyers' prospects, too? Some are here and the Flyers need them to grow. Some are coming and the Flyers will need those ones, too.

And that's what 2019-20 will be about.

Hayes, Niskanen and Braun should make the Flyers better, but the pressure is truly on the coaching staff to round everything into shape and the youngsters to prove their mettle.

"We have an exciting future ahead of us," Fletcher said. "We have a lot of very good young players. I'm not just talking about the prospects that participated this past week [in development camp]. You look at our team, we counted today, there are eight players on that NHL roster that haven't come close to hitting their peak and to having their career seasons. That's the exciting thing. That's our growth."

The Flyers' belief in their youth will be challenged against a Metropolitan Division that has gotten deeper.

The Rangers' rebuild has gone into hyperdrive with the acquisitions of Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba, and drafting Kaapo Kakko No. 2 overall.

The Devils have added first overall pick Jack Hughes, P.K. Subban and Wayne Simmonds, to join Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, Nico Hischier and company.

The Penguins are still the Penguins and have gotten younger with the trade for Alex Galchenyuk.

The Capitals and Islanders were 1-2 in the Metro last season and should be formidable again, while the Hurricanes are fresh off a run to the Eastern Conference Final.

We identified the players we wanted to get and we went out and got them early. We felt our priorities were adding a No. 2 center, adding a couple quality defensemen and finding a goaltender to play with Carter Hart. 

When we went through the list of all those available players, we quickly realized there were very few centers and defensemen in the free-agent marketplace. Rather than getting into a bidding war over very scarce … in a market where there just weren't a lot of players, we felt if we could get ahead of it and get the guys that we wanted, that would be a smart thing to do.

- Fletcher

The Flyers will need Ivan Provorov to look like the 2017-18 Ivan Provorov. They'll need Shayne Gostisbehere to find consistency. They'll need Nolan Patrick to produce more like a No. 2 overall pick. They'll need Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom to take bigger strides, along with Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers. They may need to trust another prospect (Joel Farabee?) soon. Oh, and they'll need that elusive goalie stability from Hart, who will be 21 years old and entering his first full NHL season.

"We have some high-end talent," Fletcher said. "We not only have to slot them properly but surround them properly, to create the best environment possible — not only to develop them but to win games. I think we accomplished a lot of what we set out to accomplish."

The Flyers never had a problem building from within. Fletcher isn't straying from that philosophy. The Flyers have done more than they have in past summers, even with a quiet July 1. No matter what, it's still about the youth.

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Flyers Talk podcast: NHL playoff race, trade deadline and more

Flyers Talk podcast: NHL playoff race, trade deadline and more

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall debate the playoff race and share some insight on Claude Giroux.

From the Jeff Carter buzz to Nolan Patrick's situation, it's time to talk all things Flyers:

• 0:40 — Emmer loves to sing (hear her beautiful voice at the end)

2:00 — The win over the Blue Jackets looked like a statement

16:45 — Emmer wants to see postseason hockey in Philly

17:50 — Are the Flyers about to solidify their playoff berth?

24:40 — A Carter reunion?!?!

28:00 — Will Patrick play this season?

33:20 — Insight on Giroux as a Flyer

41:15 — Trade deadline show!

42:10 — Emmer's hockey joke of the day!

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

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Flyers NHL trade deadline option: Jean-Gabriel Pageau splash possible?

Flyers NHL trade deadline option: Jean-Gabriel Pageau splash possible?

Leading up to the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline, we'll look at potential targets on the market and why they may or may not fit the Flyers' plans.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Age: 27
Height: 5-10
Weight: 180
Team: Ottawa Senators
2019-20 cap hit: $3.1 million

Scouting report

There's a lot to like with Pageau, from his age to his upside. The righty-shot center has already scored a career-high 24 goals for the Senators, who are one of the NHL's bottom five clubs.

Pageau possesses some Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes characteristics in that he values the 200-foot game, impacts the penalty kill, can scale a lineup and brings offensive potential, to boot.

While Pageau is four points away from surpassing his career high of 43 set in 2015-16, he is playing his largest role yet on a team in rebuild mode.

Could that be a red flag to suitors in contention with deeper lineups? The Athletic's senior NHL columnist Pierre LeBrun provided excellent insight on the matter in a recent article, writing how that question has been raised, yet Pageau's track record and makeup also hold weight.

Projection

Ottawa will want a sizable return for Pageau and the Flyers are not in an ideal position to land his services. Without recent call-up Mark Friedman on the roster, the Flyers would have just over $2 million in cap space. The Senators are likely not going to consider retaining salary to help necessitate a deal for their big chip, so a trade would require the Flyers to clear cap space, which would require some legitimate subtraction.

Not only that, but Ottawa could also very well eye a first- or second-round pick and possibly a prospect, as well. The Senators won't — and shouldn't — be shy in their demands. After all, they could instead attempt to re-sign Pageau, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason — another caveat for the Flyers. Would they want to risk so much for a player who might walk at season's end?

Pageau should be on the Flyers' radar, but general manager Chuck Fletcher has been pleased with his team's growth, likes its chances and won't be so quick to mortgage the future during the first full year of his process.

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