The Flyers offseason unofficially started on April 25, the day after they were eliminated by the Capitals in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. However, it officially begins this Friday, when teams can sign free agents.
For the past two months, the Flyers could have made internal moves — like they did last week by re-signing defenseman Radko Gudas or buying out the final year of R.J. Umberger’s contract — but could not go after a player from another team.
Well, that all changes on July 1.
After being hamstrung by little cap space in his first two years at the helm, General Manager Ron Hextall finally has some spending flexibility. Even still, don’t expect any major splashes this weekend.
While the Flyers are about $10 million under the cap, they still need to sign restricted free agent Brayden Schenn, who will cost about $4 million to $5 million, as well as Nick Cousins and Ryan White.
It leaves the team with a few million bucks to add a mid-range free agent. With the defense mostly set, look for Hextall to try to land a second- or third-line forward who has some combination of speed, size and a scoring touch.
Here are three players the Flyers may target and have a realistic chance of signing — as opposed to players that will be out of their price range like forwards Steven Stamkos or Kyle Okposo.
The center, who has spent his entire career with the Blues, can score, pass, check, is strong at both ends of the ice and is 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. He spent five years as the captain and played for team USA at the Olympics in Sochi. The only drawback is Backes will be 32 next season. Still, if they can get him for two-three years at a reasonable rate (he had a $4.5 million cap hit last year), Backes would be a great short-term addition.
The Flyers can no doubt use the 6’3″, 200-pound left winger, who has been good for about 25 goals and 50-plus points for the last six seasons with the Jets. The 30-year-old made just over $4 million last year and would look nice on the first or second line — if affordable — for the next three or four years.
The youngest of the three at 28 and 6’1″, 200 pounds, the left winger scored 22 goals last year with the Sabres and Ducks and might sign for under $4 million. Like Ladd, he’d be a good fit on the top line with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, or with Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn on the second line.