2016 Flyers free-agent fit: Lightning C Steven Stamkos?

2016 Flyers free-agent fit: Lightning C Steven Stamkos?

Each day from now until July 1, the day NHL free agency begins, producers Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile some of the league’s top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.

Steven Stamkos, center

Age: 26
Height: 6-1
Weight: 194 lbs
Last team: Tampa Bay Lightning
2015-16 cap hit: $7.5 million
Scouting report
Every year, there’s that one big fish in free agency who teams would love to get a crack at signing. Say hello to Steven Stamkos, by far the biggest fish swimming in this year’s free-agency waters.
The first overall pick of the Lightning in the 2008 entry draft, Stamkos is one of the most lethal goal scorers the league has seen in decades, as you probably already know. In eight NHL seasons, Stamkos has scored 312 goals. He’s earned two Rocket Richard trophies for most goals scored during a season — 51 in 2009-2010 (shared with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby) and 60 in 2011-12.
The three-time All-Star possesses an unbelievable wrist shot that features a lightning-quick (no pun intended) release. That shot allows him to do plenty of damage on the power play, where he’s scored 108 goals in career. As it is with most prolific scorers, the top of the faceoff dot is Stamkos’ sweet spot for the wrister or a one-timer.

While a natural center, Stamkos can also play wing as he did for a period of time this season.
Stamkos has played a full schedule of games in five of his eight NHL seasons. His 2013-14 campaign was cut short thanks to a broken leg. This season brought a more concerning ailment, as he missed the last five games of the regular season and all but one playoff game (Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals) thanks to blood clots. It’s a tricky situation to deal with because you never know if or when blood clots are going to happen again and there’s no exact timetable for a recovery.
Let’s get this out of the way now: If you really think the Flyers, who have about $11 million of cap space as of this writing and still need to re-sign Brayden Schenn, Nick Cousins and likely Ryan White as well, are going to offer Stamkos the $10 million-plus per season he’s could get in his next deal, it’s going to be a long, hard fall back to reality for you. Get out and enjoy the lovely weather in the Delaware Valley this weekend instead of dreaming about something that will never happen.
As for where Stamkos will land, that question added another layer of intrigue Friday night at the draft when the Detroit Red Wings traded the last year of KHL-bound Pavel Datsyuk’s $7.5 million cap hit to the Arizona Coyotes. That frees up a boatload of money the Wings can dump into Stamkos’ lap. Detroit has some nice young talent to put around Stamkos, too.
And, of course, there’s Stamkos’ hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, who can have a Brinks truck loaded with loot back into his driveway at the snap of a finger. But he may not want to take part in Toronto’s rebuild.
And, who knows, maybe there’s a mystery team out there lurking in the weeds with a huge offer.
The main question here is does Stamkos really want to leave Tampa, the only NHL home he’s known. The Bolts may not be able to give Stamkos the same money Detroit, Toronto or another team can as Tampa has to re-sign restricted free agents Alex Killorn, Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov this season and Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat next season. All of those players are key parts of Tampa’s successful nucleus and will be due nice raises. Not an easy task to accomplish by any stretch in a cap world.
One homefield advantage Tampa does have is the fact there’s no personal state income tax in Florida. So less money in a contract from the Lightning could actually come close to the money a team in another state or province offers in a contract.
Gut feeling: Stamkos re-ups with Lightning in the $8.5-9 million per year range. He has unfinished business there with the Bolts being so close the Stanley Cup over the last few seasons and there’s so much young talent in Tampa that the Lightning can be a legitimate threat for years to come. But this is the true wild card of free agency. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him land with another team …
… Not named the Flyers.

Flyers re-sign restricted free agent Anthony Stolarz

Flyers re-sign restricted free agent Anthony Stolarz

General manager Ron Hextall is nearly finished wrapping up contracts for his restricted free agents.

And his goalie picture is now clear for 2018-19.

The Flyers on Wednesday re-signed netminder Anthony Stolarz to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal is worth $761,250, according to a report by hockey writer John Hoven.

With Stolarz back, defenseman Robert Hagg remains the Flyers' lone restricted free agent.

Stolarz, a 2012 second-round pick, underwent a nightmarish 2017-18 season just a year after he made his NHL debut and performed well in seven games with the Flyers. The 24-year-old tore the meniscus in his left knee during early September, the same injury he suffered at the end of 2016-17 with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

He played in just one AHL game and three ECHL contests as a result. In 2016-17, he made his way to the big club and put up a 2.07 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in a small sample. Then the injury occurred with the Phantoms and it's been an uphill battle ever since for the 6-foot-6, 210-pounder.

Stolarz will have his work cut out for him — if he hasn't already — as playing time will be earned at Lehigh Valley with Alex Lyon back in the fold and Carter Hart joining them.

"It's just competition. No one is going to go in there and hand you a job, so you have to earn it,” Stolarz said in June after an on-ice workout at Flyers Skate Zone. "I think the thing for me is to prove I'm healthy. I don't think I've skated since the end of January. I had the one flare up before one of my games and it had nothing to do with my knee injury. It was a separate injury. I think the biggest thing is proving I'm healthy and going out there and working to prove I'm still a high-caliber goalie."

The Flyers' goaltending tandem is set with Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, both of whom are in the final year of their contracts. Things obviously can change this offseason, as Neuvirth and Stolarz seemed like realistic trade candidates.

But as of now, it's Elliott and Neuvirth with the younger trio pushing and competing.

"I'd rather have too many goalies than too few," Hextall said earlier this month. "If something makes sense and we can make something happen, we'd at least look at it. We saw it last year. All of a sudden, a couple goalies go down and you're scrambling for goalies. If we start with five, we start with five. Not a perfect situation, but again, I'd rather start with five than with three."

More on the Flyers' goalies

• Following 'gloomy' time, what's next for Elliott?

• Why Neuvirth's NHL career hinges on this offseason

• Hart says so long to Twitter, hello to pro life

• No arbitration needed for Flyers and Lyon

• Sandstrom hungry to prove he's not the 'other' goalie

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery died Sunday morning. First responders pulled his body out of Hamilton Harbour, where he had been swimming with friends. An investigation into the cause of death is still ongoing. 

Emery was 35.

According to local authorities, Emery was checking out a friend’s boat docked at Royal Hamilton Yacht Club when the group he was with decided to jump in the water around 6:30 a.m. Emery’s body never surfaced and was eventually recovered around 2:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Hamilton police say Emery’s body was recovered in close proximity to where he was last seen.

Emery was last seen publicly with a handful of his former teammates Saturday night as the goaltender participated in Zac Rinaldo’s charity hockey game in Hamilton. Emery can be seen standing during the playing of “O Canada.”

"The Philadelphia Flyers are stunned and extremely saddened to hear of the tragic passing of former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery," president Paul Holmgren said in a statement from the team. "Ray was an outstanding teammate and an extremely gifted goaltender. He had exceptional athleticism, was a fierce competitor and battled in every game he played with the Flyers.

"His performances through the 2009-10 season were a very big part of the team's success in making the playoffs and reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Ray's talent, work ethic and determination helped him enjoy a successful 11-year NHL career. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

Several of Emery’s former teammates over the years offered their condolences via Twitter after learning of the tragedy.

Former Flyer Daniel Carcillo shared the he was crushed by the news (NSFW).

Jakub Voracek also shared his condolences (NSFW).

Emery joined the Flyers in June 2009 on a one-year contract, shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in his Flyers debut. The goaltender’s first stint in Philadelphia was cut short when he suffered a muscle tear in his abdomen in December missing the remainder of the season. Emery was later diagnosed with avascular necrosis — a degenerative condition to the bone tissue in his hip.

After undergoing successful surgery, Emery eventually joined the Ducks before winning a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. Impressively, Emery finished the regular season with a 17-1-0 record. He re-signed with the Flyers that summer as a backup to Steve Mason.

Emery’s most infamous moment in Philadelphia came during an ugly 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on November 1, 2013, as the Flyers netminder pummeled Caps goalie Braden Holtby during a line brawl in the early stages of the third period.

Emery faced criminal charges over a handful of off-the-ice incidents and altercations. Most recently, he was arrested for assault with a weapon in 2017 against former fiancé Keshia Chanté. 

Emery played a total of 287 NHL games, 88 with the Flyers.