Derek Grant

Will Flyers re-sign Justin Braun, Derek Grant when NHL free agency rolls around?

Will Flyers re-sign Justin Braun, Derek Grant when NHL free agency rolls around?

July 1 came and went rather quietly in the hockey world. Annually, the day is filled with players signing new contracts and joining new teams as the free agency period officially opens.

This year, that was obviously not the case. As the NHL and NHLPA continue to work toward a resumption and eventual conclusion of the 2019-20 season, the entry draft and free agency must wait.

According to a report by TSN's Bob McKenzie, both sides are looking at Nov. 1 being the new July 1.

The offseason will be different and challenging considering the times. The salary cap floor, which typically climbs each year, is expected to remain flat at $81.5 million. In an excellent article published Wednesday, TSN's Frank Seravalli highlighted the key questions and challenges facing free agency, while outlining his top 50 pending unrestricted free agents.

On Seravalli's list were two current Flyers: Justin Braun at No. 19 and Derek Grant at No. 41. Will the Flyers re-sign them? With the league's return-to-play 24-team tournament still to be held, a lot can change from now until Nov. 1, but let's break down the Flyers' outlook for both of these players.

Braun

The case for Braun is interesting and the chances of the Flyers re-signing the experienced defenseman feel like 50-50. Braun, a stay-at-home blueliner who specializes in killing plays, helped stabilize the Flyers on the back end and improved their goal-prevention efforts (which were a major problem last season).

However, the Flyers will be cognizant of his age. Braun is 33 years old and made $3.8 million this season. At the current stage of his career, what will Braun be eyeing for his next deal? One would think he'd have to look for a cheaper price if he wants more years on his new contract, something that can be attractive to a veteran player eyeing job security.

The Flyers, though, have solid youth and depth at his position, along with a nice stable of blue-line prospects in the system. Understandably, for those reasons the Flyers might be wary of dedicating years to an older defenseman.

If Braun is willing to be pretty flexible in his terms, the Flyers shouldn't be opposed to bringing him back. He has made them better in 2019-20. But if push comes to shove a bit, especially in a tighter offseason, the Flyers may have to say thank you and move forward with their youngsters or another option.

Grant

The initial impression of the Grant trade deadline acquisition was good rental for cheap.

What made Grant such a cost-effective move by general manager Chuck Fletcher? Grant, 29 years old at the time, could help the playoff-hungry Flyers down the stretch with only a $700,000 cap hit and no years left on his contract.

Grant made such a positive impact in his seven-game regular-season audition with the Flyers that they'll absolutely consider re-signing him. The 6-foot-3, 206-pound center also delivered a timely career year of 15 goals and 25 points between his time with the Ducks and Flyers, setting himself up for a nice pay increase.

Grant should be appealing to bring back for the Flyers because he can play down the middle and on the wing; his ability to move around makes him less likely to block a Flyers prospect at a specific position. If Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) is healthy in 2020-21 and the Flyers are deeper at center, Grant can help on the wing. If Patrick's situation remains uncertain and the Flyers lack depth, Grant can bolster things by playing his natural position.

The 24-team tournament could really factor into the Grant equation. If the 30-year-old has an influential tourney and the Flyers go on a run, he could win over the club. He's a quality bottom-six guy who won't require a hefty contract that severely handcuffs the Flyers next season or down the line.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Derek Grant

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Derek Grant

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October. 

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at a newer addition in Derek Grant. 

Destra

Grant is an interesting case to take a look at — mainly because he’s played only seven games as a Flyer so far. Although the sample size is still fairly small, it looks like he’s taken to his new team quickly, registering five points (one goal, four assists) in the short span. 

In addition to that, he had back-to-back two-point games and registered a point in three consecutive. This was the first time he had recorded points in three straight games since Dec. 11-16 in the 2017-18 season. Overall, it’s been a solid start with the Flyers, and chemistry with his new teammates will only continue to get stronger. 

B for the newcomer. 

Emmer

When Grant was acquired at the trade deadline, it was clear Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher was looking to build and improve the depth, and adding the Ducks' fourth-line center did that. 

Grant had plenty of experience in the league, including experience moving to different locker rooms. The Flyers are the seventh team he’s played for in his career and that way of knowing what it was like to quickly meet teammates and learn systems with a new club was certainly a benefit when he made the transition to the Flyers.

Grant jumped in right away, and by his third game with the orange and black, he recorded his first goal, along with an assist which from there he continued on to a three-game point streak. Grant had a small sample size to grade off of as far as his regular-season performance, but with five points in seven games along with a plus-2 rating during that span, the goal of finding players to improve the depth was achieved in this case.

Grant is an A-.

Hatcher

Grant is still a bit tough to evaluate just yet, but let’s go for it anyway. Here’s the thing: Grant graded according to what this team wants him to be, should really get an A+. He’d been with the team for all of a split second before the NHL pause. In seven games, he tallied five points on a goal and four assists. 

According to the guys I interviewed during the break, he’s made a concerted effort to keep in touch with them, and seems to genuinely have become fast friends with the entire locker room (which is impressive given how close this team is). He’s been the depth the Flyers really wanted Fletcher to bring in.

Let’s give him an A … it’s more of a midterm mark than a final grade given the small sample size. But he deserves it!

Fordyce 

My initial instinct for a player who has played only seven games for the Flyers is to give an incomplete. However, in Grant’s case, he has done enough to earn an A for me. From what we’ve seen so far, he is far exceeding expectations by earning five points in seven games, especially for a player who was projected as a bottom-six forward when coming over at the trade deadline.

Grant is a veteran in this league and has played for a plethora of teams, some of them multiple times, so his ability to fit in with a new group of guys makes him a valuable piece for a team with aspirations of a deep playoff run. 

This experience, coupled with the goal and four assists in the first seven games he has played for the Flyers, earns Grant an A from me despite the small sample size.

Hall

Grant was such a savvy, cost-effective move by Fletcher that quietly made the Flyers better.

Fletcher gave up Phantoms forward Kyle Criscuolo and a 2020 fourth-round draft pick to add Grant, who has a cap hit of only $700,000 and can become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

The 30-year-old center made the Flyers tougher to play against with his 6-foot-3, 206-pound build and proved to be an underrated scorer. Grant recorded five points (one goal, four assists) through seven games, a stretch in which the Flyers went 6-1-0 prior to the season being suspended. Between his time with the Ducks and Flyers, Grant put up 15 goals and 25 points — both career highs.

Grant had the profile of a rental but he'll certainly be under consideration for the Flyers to re-sign, especially if he shows even more during the 24-team tournament.

We have to consider the small sample size in our grade, so let's go with a B+ for Grant and his difference-making seven-game audition.

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Flyers mailbag: The what-ifs of 2020 and expectations for the offseason

Flyers mailbag: The what-ifs of 2020 and expectations for the offseason

There are a lot of things I miss about hockey, but what I miss the most is being able to talk about new and exciting moments on a daily basis. While we're all at a standstill, waiting for that moment where games can resume, I figured it would be fun to do a mailbag and discuss some of the bigger topics surrounding the Flyers at the moment. 

Let's get to it! 

With the core we see the Flyers building, is there any chance we go after a big name in free agency? 

I’m going to say no — if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, but there are a few reasons why the Flyers don’t have to stress about free agency … and that’s not even breaking down their very limited cap space. 

What’s important is locking up those few smaller pieces moving forward. One of the strongest assets from the Flyers this season has been the spaced out level of contribution from each player, each position and each line. In years past, if Claude Giroux wouldn’t get on the board, chances are the night ended in a loss. The captain can go games without tallying a point and others are ready to step up. 

The team aspect has truly been an exciting one to watch develop from the start of training camp. In addition to Travis Konecny’s electric season, one of the strongest years of Sean Couturier’s career and solidified depth — why try to throw in a curveball when things are finally starting to click? 

Do you think the Flyers would try to bring back Derek Grant or move forward with the center battle next year? 

Grant was a very solid addition at the trade deadline for the Flyers and found instant chemistry with the team. Collecting 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) in just seven games isn’t something that goes unnoticed. 

If anything, bringing him back would only elevate the competition further — imagine how fun the battle for a center spot would be come training camp. Nothing would be handed out, they would have to battle it out and earn that spot. Who’s the hungriest? 

This is a good problem to have — going from no depth down the middle to a plethora in just a short amount of time. 

How quickly do you envision Wade Allison fitting into the Flyers lineup? And in what role? 

Allison has always been an intriguing prospect since joining the organization in 2016 — and there’s a really strong piece about him that was recently put together by our own Jordan Hall. (Seriously, go read it after this, it’s fantastic.)

The soon-to-be 23-year-old has such a strong hockey IQ, but that means nothing if you can’t apply it to your game. Luckily for him, that’s no problem. 

It’ll be interesting to see how his game translates to the NHL and just how quickly that could happen, but I don’t see it taking longer than a season or two before it does. Adding him as a middle forward would instantly elevate the already strong depth that has been created. 

Who do you think was the front-runner for team MVP before the season was halted?

This was something that a few of us had discussed earlier in an End-to-End. It would be a disservice to Couturier if he was not awarded the Bobby Clarke Trophy. 

He was also awarded it in 2018-19 and if anything, he’s just grown in every aspect of his game. He is the lifeblood of the Flyers and I haven’t seen a two-way forward drive play this successfully in a long time. Couturier would not have just won the team’s MVP … I strongly believe he would have collected his first Selke Trophy as well. 

Of all the big Western Conference teams, who would you most want to see the Flyers play in the finals? 

I think what the Vegas Golden Knights have been doing since their team entered the league just a few years ago is thrilling. They broke the mold for what was considered a  “Standard” hockey game. It was fun, fans got involved and it didn’t just become a game — it was a whole experience. 

Thinking of the Golden Knights vs. Flyers in the finals just seems electric — imagine Philadelphia fans completely taking over the famous Vegas Strip while cheering on their favorite team. 

How the actual ice would hold up in Nevada during summer is a different story, but it would be great to find out one day. 

The way the team was playing when the season was halted, is it realistic to say they could have won the cup? 

From the very beginning of the season, I felt like this team was special. While it didn’t feel as exciting in the opening weeks — and rightfully so, since there were new systems to be learned and new faces to meet — when the Flyers returned from their west coast road trip the first week of January, it was almost as if they activated a new level of intensity. 

Every game was important, every two points crucial. Even after wins, they didn’t focus on what they did right, it was all about what they can do better the next time they go out there. 

The Flyers by far were the hottest team in the league when play stopped over a month ago — and it seemed like everyone around the league was starting to finally take notice that they weren’t just trying to sneak into the playoffs anymore. They were ready for a run that ended in the cup. And I truly believe that with the momentum they had, it was going to tun into something memorable for all of Philadelphia. 

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