2016 was a very productive year for the organization so don’t expect to see any extreme changes being made to the Flyers roster in the offseason. The team grew more comfortable playing together as the season progressed so it wouldn’t be the best idea for Flyers’ GM Ron Hextall to break up team chemistry by bringing in new names. But with large cap space and even the prospects in the upcoming NHL draft, the Flyers are sure to make improvements.
There’s work to be done on the offensive end so what will they do with guys like Brayden Schenn and Nick Cousins? Schenn is a restricted free-agent so he won’t be able to test his value on the market, next to defenders Shayne Gostisbehere and Radko Gudas he has arguably made the most improvements out of the entire roster with a career-high season in points. Nick Cousins is also restricted so there won’t be any rush to resign him. Though he hasn’t really done anything to solidify a spot with the team there is room to improve. The future for Cousins may be bright if he’s able to take advantage of the playing time given to him in Philly. Fourth-liner and unrestricted free-agent Ryan White won’t be jumping ship for more money. the center just wants to be in Philly again and management would like him here as well. The only thing stopping that from happening is the amount of space on the roster. Cross unrestricted free-agent Sam Gagner off the keeper list because his current $3.2 million per year contract is the elephant in the room. The Flyers likely won’t offer to pay him what organizations throw at him in the free-agency market even with his strong second-half of last season but if the price is right anything is possible with the Flyers cap space. Don’t think twice about R.J. Umberger’s status as a Flyer because the chances of management not buying his contract out are just as high as Scott Hartnell playing for Philly next season.
On the other side of the ice there’s going to be competition between defenders for roster spots. The flyers have two blueliners that could very well return in 2016/17. and both are restricted free-agents. Radko Gudas went from being known around the league as a goon making dirty hits left and right to becoming a fan-favorite in Philly. Gudas might not be putting up offensive numbers like Gostisbehere but he does offer tough, hard-hitting abilities that complement nice with an goal-scoring blueliner like Ghost. Brandon Manning, his partner in crime for the 2016 season. will be the player Gudas competes with in the offseason. Manning has been with the organization for five years now and hasn’t done too much to make a name for himself as a legitimate defender in the league. Manning at 26 is hardly a youth project anymore so he could very likely part ways with an organization that has plenty of young talent (Ivan Provorov, Samuel Morin, Travis Sanheim). Unrestricted free-agent Evgeny Medvedev is 33 years old and was arrested for DUI just last week. The Flyers weren’t planning on resigning him prior to the arrest so the chance of him playing in a Flyers uniform next season are slim to none.
Goalies Steve Mason and Michael Neuvirth will fight for the starting spot but that competition might not happen if management aims to trade one of the two players. Both have their downsides as Neuvirth has a career history of injuries and Mason hasn’t really provided in the postseason. Somewhere next season, if at all, would be the best time to trade away one of the goalies as both will enter their contract years. A platoon of both goalies could work very well in the Flyers system and this seems to be the safest option moving on into next season. There is also the chance that either Andrew MacDonald, Nick Schultz or Mark Streit is traded to create even more cap space.
Check out the Sporting Edge Twitter account (@SportingEdge1) for trade rumors involving the Flyers and information on who they could potentially land in free-agency
Keepers: Both Mason and Neuvirth, Schenn, Cousins, Gudas, White
Who gets the boot: Umberger, Gagner. Medvedev, Manning, MacDonald
Author: Tylar Pomroy (@tylarpomroy on Twitter)
Image courtesy of sonsofpenn.com