Flyers Free Agent Preview

With the NHL Free Agent window approaching, now is a great time to take a look at each free agent and see what the likelihood of them signing with Philadelphia is. The Flyers have a ton of cap space and could take a run at some of the top NHL free agents. We will take a look at each potential free agent and what the likelihood of each player signing is. For the sake of exercise, I will run through TSN’s top list of 2019 free agents.

  1. W Artemi Panarin- Low chance to no chance.

The Flyers showed interest in Panarin a few seasons ago when the Blackhawks were shopping him. Panarin is a game-breaker and play-driver and would be an excellent fit for the Flyers. While the Flyers have the $10-12 million asking price Panarin covets, it is unlikely he will sign in Philly. The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported a few months ago that Panarin would prefer to sign with a team in Florida, and the Panthers have the cap space and flexibility to make that happen. If for some reason the Panthers don’t become an option, it would seem that Panarin would prefer to play anywhere on a coast, making a team like San Jose, Los Angeles, or the Rangers or Islanders a more likely destination than the Flyers. I would put the Flyers chances of signing Panarin low to none.

  1. D Erik Karlsson- Low chance to no chance.

Once again, the Flyers have the cap space to make Karlsson the type of deal he desires (7 years at $10-12 million a year). Karlsson fits an organizational need, and even with injuries, he is still a top five blue-liner in the league. Karlsson would likely instantly make the Flyers a playoff team. However, if Karlsson views them as “rebuilding,” it is unlikely he signs. San Jose is attempting to re-sign Karlsson currently. There have been recent rumors that Chicago, Montreal, Ottawa, Dallas, Tampa, and the Islanders are interested. If Karlsson doesn’t re-sign, he is most likely headed to Tampa or Dallas (if both teams can come up with the cap space). One can hope, but Karlsson in Philadelphia is a long-shot at best.

  1. G Sergei Bobrovsky- No chance.

The Flyers need a veteran goalie to help share the load with Carter Hart, but Bobrovsky isn’t it. He is also looking to play on a coast (likely Florida as well), and after being traded by the Flyers years ago, is unlikely to return after a bad taste in his mouth.

  1. C Matt Duchene- No chance.

If Duchene doesn’t re-sign in Columbus, he will likely look to play out west. Duchene’s rumored asking price is $9-10 million a season. While Duchene is an excellent NHL player, the Flyers would do well to steer clear of the asking price. Duchene owns a home in Nashville and has long been rumored to sign there. Regardless, it is unlikely the Flyers would even make an attempt to sign him without Duchene taking some sort of discount around the $7.5 range.

  1. W Anders Lee- Low chance

Lee was the Islanders’ captain last season, and there is a strong chance he stays. Lee isn’t really what the Flyers need at the moment. Lee is a power forward type who scores a lot of power play goals and is at his best in down low play (he’s basically a slower James Van Riemsdyk). He also plays the left side on the wing. He is not a player the Flyers really need to sign, but he would definitely become a fan favorite quickly if he does. Lee is rumored to be looking for a 6-7 year contract at $7 million a season. He and the Flyers may have mutual interest, but he isn’t really the type of player they need at the moment, nor do the Flyers need another winger making over $6 million annually.

  1. D Tyler Myers- Medium chance

Myers is a 6’8″ defender who played for Winnipeg the past few seasons. Myers is considered to be a top four defender, but he is often a frustrating player. He has excellent hands and a high skill level for such a big player, but his consistency and injury proneness are perpetually issues. The Flyers do need some veteran defense, but Myers is rumored to be looking for a 6 year contract between $5.5-$7 million a year. This is a rather high price tag, but I could see him be a fit and help the Flyers depth if the price is right. Myers is unlikely to sign with Winnipeg, but could potentially end up on Vancouver or Dallas.

  1. W Joe Pavelski- No chance

It is unlikely Pavelski will test free agency. It would be absolutely stunning if he signed anywhere other than San Jose. Even if he did, he would likely be looking to sign with a team expected to be a Stanley Cup contender next season.

  1. W Mats Zuccarello- Low chance

Zuccarello was traded by the Rangers to Dallas at the trade deadline. The Stars are rumored to be interested in re-signing him, but he may take a look at going back to the Rangers as well. Zuccarello is 31 years old and has some value as a top six winger, but once again he isn’t really what the Flyers need. He is likely looking for a three to four year contract at over $5 million a year. Zuccarello could provide some leadership and secondary offense for the Flyers, but given his age, he is primed for some steep decline in his game in a year or so. The Flyers would do well to spare the cap space on a younger option.

  1. W Marcus Johansson- Medium chance

Johansson has struggled with injuries over the past few seasons. However, when healthy, he has been a solid two-way winger with some offensive upside. Because of his injury woes and recent low offensive numbers (subsequently), Johansson may be the type of depth piece the Flyers need. If he could be had on a low year, low term contract, he would be worth a shot. Many projections have him at a 3-4 year contract around $4 million a season. Johansson has played in Washington, New Jersey, and Boston most recently, so he may want to stay on the East Coast. He is worth taking a look at if the price is right.

  1. G Robin Lehner- No chance

Lehner had an incredible bounce-back year after a few difficult years in Buffalo and a battle with mental health issues and substance abuse. Lehner had one of the top save percentages in the NHL of all goalies and helped the Islanders to a second round playoff berth. Lehner is likely going to look for a starting job and seems as though he’ll stay with the Islanders. He likely would not get the playing time he covets and it’s doubtful the Flyers would have interest, considering Lehner has just now got his game together.

  1. D Jake Gardiner- Medium chance

Gardiner has played a top four role for the Leafs for the last few seasons. With Gardiner, the Flyers would know exactly what they are getting. He is an excellent skater and makes some tremendous plays. He is also prone to big errors and defensive lapses. Gardiner’s biggest asset is his skating, and at age 28, he has a solid 5-7 years left in his game. Gardiner is also good friends with James Van Riemsdyk, which could be enticing for him. The Leafs are strapped on cash and unlikely to sign Gardiner. If Gardiner could be had for $6 million a season on a 5 year term, he could be an excellent option for the Flyers.

  1. D Alex Edler- Low chance

Edler has been the Canucks’ best defender as of late. He seemed to be destined to sign a multi-year deal with Vancouver, but there seems to be some hold-up over the term of his contract. At 33, Elder still could function as a second-pairing defender, but he is rumored to be asking for up to a four year contract. If he does test the market, the Flyers would do well to steer clear unless they could get him on a two year contract at the absolute longest. Edler is likely to find a team looking for longer term, so don’t be surprised if he finds himself either back with the Canucks or strong contender.

  1. W Gustav Nyquist- Low chance

Nyquist had a great run with the San Jose Sharks once acquired at the trade deadline last season. He is still an excellent secondary scoring option from the wing. At age 29, Nyquist is likely looking for one more payday and could likely fetch around $5 million a year on a 5 year deal on the open market. He would be an excellent scoring complement on the Flyers’ second or third lines, but after a long run of playing for a middling Red Wings team, he is likely looking to sign with a contender or back with the Sharks.

  1. W Michael Ferland- Medium chance

Old school Flyers’ fans would love Michael Ferland. Ferland is a goal scorer than has frequently been a league leader in hits. He isn’t afraid to fight or mix it up physically. He scored 17 goals last season, fighting injuries, and he scored over 20 the year before. Ferland is rumored to be asking over $5 million a season on a 5 year contract. While I would personally be skeptical of signing a player who plays like Ferland to this type of contract, I could see the Flyers offering him a deal. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher has stated he wants to make the Flyers more difficult to play against, and Ferland provides both grit and skill.

  1. C Kevin Hayes- Medium chance

It might be surprising to see Hayes listed as only a medium chance after having his rights be acquired by the Flyers recently. However, Hayes has shown in the past he isn’t afraid to wait until free agency to make his choice (he did so as a rookie after refusing to sign with the Blackhawks, the team that drafted him). Hayes is an excellent second-line center. He is creative and boasts a huge frame. At 27, Hayes still likely has a few years of solid offensive play left before a decline. Hayes seemed impressed by what the Flyers showed him recently, but he could easily decide to sign with the Rangers again, or even across town with the Islanders. Hayes is rumored to be asking for a 6 year deal and will likely fetch $5.25-6 million on the open market.

  1. W Ryan Dzingel- Low chance

Similar to other wingers available, Dzingel offers excellent secondary scoring. At 27, he still has a few years left of potential offensive production. However, he doesn’t really fit a need for the Flyers. Dzingel will have a multitude of options but may just re-sign in Columbus, who acquired him at the trade deadline. Dzingel is likely to sign a 5 year deal around $5 million a season.

  1. D Anton Stralman- Medium chance

For many years, Stralman was considered to be the most underrated defenseman in the league. However, at age 32 last year, Stralman’s game took a bit of a dive. He may still provide some value, and I could see Chuck Fletcher offering him a 2-3 year deal to offer some leadership and depth. However, it is likely Stralman cashes in on his past reputation. I could see him getting a 3-4 year contract at over $5 million a season from someone (not saying he should, but it is possible).

  1. W Wayne Simmonds- Low chance-no chance.

The Flyers are unlikely to attempt to re-sign the long time forward. Simmonds had a huge regression year, and it is hard to project what type of player he will be going forward. He could bounce back, but the likelihood is he is a bottom six forward. It seemed as though Simmonds had played his last game as a Flyer just before the trade deadline. Unless no one is willing to sign him, and Fletcher could get him on a low cap hit one year deal, it is extremely unlikely he is a Flyer again, especially with his salary projections hovering around the 3-4 year $4.5 million a year mark.

  1. D Braydon Coburn- Medium chance

The former Flyer is a bottom pairing defender at this point in his career. He still has a some value and would provide some much needed depth and leadership. If he could be had for low-term, I could see him return to the Flyers. Coburn is more likely to pursue whatever long-term contract he can get at age 34. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him sign with the Canucks or Oilers this offseason.

  1. W Brett Connolly- Low chance- no chance.

Connolly has enjoyed some offensive success recently playing in a secondary scoring role on the Capitals. Connolly’s success in recent years is likely due to who he’s playing with more so than his own ability. He is still a solid third line option, but he is likely looking for a higher number, long-term contract after taking a discount to stay with the Capitals last season. He is not likely an option for the Flyers.

  1. W Brandon Tanev- Low chance-no chance

Tanev is a fourth-line speedster who enjoyed a career year last season on Winnipeg. At age 27, Tanev is unlikely to repeat last season’s success, but he is still likely to get a 3-4 year contract at over $3 million a year on the open market. While the Flyers could use his speed, they are unlikely to commit the dollars and term to a bottom six forward.

  1. W Joonas Donskoi- Low chance-no chance

Donskoi has been an intriguing player since stepping into the league a few years ago on San Jose. He always has decent possession numbers, and he is fun to watch. Donskoi is a third line winger and not exactly the type Chuck Fletcher has targeted in the past. He is also likely to be offered a 3-4 year deal at over $3 million a season.

  1. D Ben Chariot- Low chance

Chariot has been excellent the last two seasons in Winnipeg. Chariot is big and a decent skater. He uses his frame and reach well to break up plays. At this point in his career, Chariot is likely looking to cash out. He could be an option for the Flyers as a third pairing defender, but with a projected salary of around $2.5 million and term around 3 years, it is unlikely the Flyers will turn to Chariot as an option.

  1. W Colin Wilson- Low chance

Wilson is a third line winger who always seems to have better success in the playoffs than in the regular season. He also struggles to stay healthy and offers little in the way of offensive consistency. Wilson could provide some depth as a bottom six forward, but there are better options available.

  1. D Ron Hainsey- Low chance

Hainsey has served in a top four role on the Toronto Maple Leafs the past few years. He is pretty consistent, and plays a simple game. He played way too often the last few seasons, and at this point in his career is a bottom pairing defender. If Hainsey could be had for $2 million a year or so on a one year contract, he might be a fit. Otherwise, the Flyers will likely steer clear of the 38 year old defender.

  1. W Patrick Maroon- No chance

Maroon plays a rugged style the Flyers covet, but after winning the Cup in St. Louis this year, it is unlikely he looks to play away from his hometown and children. Unless the Blues don’t offer him a contract, he is an unlikely candidate for next season.

  1. W Alex Chiasson- No chance

Chiasson has been a journeyman bottom six forward the past few seasons. He saw his value increase last year after scoring 20 goals on a terrible Oilers squad. Chiasson is likely to sign with a team in need of winger depth, and he doesn’t fit the style of play Fletcher will look for in order to round out his bottom six.

  1. C Brian Boyle- Medium chance- high chance

Boyle is a fourth line center, but unique in how he plays. At 6’8″, Boyle plays both the power play and penalty kill. He is very much coveted by playoff teams due to his versatility. Even at age 34, Boyle would nicely round out the Flyers’ bottom six if he were to sign on a 2 year contract. His family is also on the east coast, so the Flyers are a highly possible destination.