When the Philadelphia Flyers return for the 2020-2021 season in December, many roster decisions will have been made. Most of them coming with the Flyers high-priced contracts.
At the moment, the Flyers have roughly $9M in salary cap relief heading into next season. A relief that will hit a hard stop at the $81.5M flat cap.
But, that $9M will be used up pretty fast for the Flyers. The $9M will start with RFAs Phil Myers, Robert Hagg, Nolan Patrick, & Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Continue to Brian Elliott or another backup goalie for Carter Hart. And, the last remaining may be used to bring back Tyler Pitlick.
So, should you expect big Flyers moves this offseason? In their current state no.
If the Flyers want to make a big splash it will have to come via trade. A trade that will be either acquire a player or set up a signing with the freed up cap-space. But, who could be moved?
James van Riemsdyk
The easiest name to throw into this category is James van Riemsdyk & his $7M cap hit. Van Riemsdyk is a player that just does not fit the style of play Alain Vigneault is implementing in Philadelphia.
Van Riemsdyk’s $7M cap hit will not only give the Flyers much needed cap relief this season, but also the next two seasons. Seasons in which Carter Hart, Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, Travis Sanheim, Joel Farabee, & Morgan Frost will all need new contracts.
There is no bad blood with van Riemsdyk & the Flyers. The former #2 overall pick by the Flyers in 2007 has already been traded once by the Flyers. This time around it will not be so easy.
If the Flyers want to trade van Riemsdyk it will come at a cost to them. For a team to take on van Riemsdyk’s full contract they will want to be compensated for doing so with van Riemsdyk yet to have a healthy season in Philadelphia & being just a shell of his former self.
While van Riemsdyk would be the best candidate to trade, next years expansion draft may be the better option. If the Flyers wanted to trade van Riemsdyk, it may cost them a young prospect in doing so. Someone like a Nolan Patrick, Issac Ratcliffe, or Wade Allison.
The second easiest name to throw in this category is Shayne Gostisbehere & his $4.5M cap hit. Gostisbehere just could not find his rhythm & stay in the lineup in his first season under Alain Vigneault.
Gostisbehere, like van Riemsdyk, will give the Flyers relief over the next few seasons. Which may be enticing now, but the value potential could be greater down the road.
If the Flyers wanted to get max value out of Gostisbehere, another season in Philadelphia will help with that value. Trading for a fully healthy player with only two years remaining rather than often injured player with three years remaining is more valuable to a team.
While holding onto Gostisbehere may be the better option, a trade like GM Chuck Fletcher did last year with Matt Niskanen & Radko Gudas could be explored. Maybe a guy like Rasmus Ristolainen in Buffalo or Matt Dumba in Minnesota. Both would require a high pick & Gostisbehere. But, both would fit the Flyers better than Gostisbehere.
Jake Voracek has come to the fore-front of Flyers fans “trade this player if they want to get better” minds over the past two seasons. While many always say trade Claude Giroux, Voracek has now entered the same conversation.
Voracek is a player that would be a hot commodity on the open market. A player that is a big, strong forward who can skate, handle the puck on entries, & thread the needle into holes not open to the normal eye. While many people don’t believe Voracek is the answer, his stats say other wise. Ranking 17th overall in total points over the last 7-seasons in the NHL.
If the Flyers wanted to trade Voracek it will not be hard. A lot of teams will be knocking at the door for the 12-year veteran. But, with his $8.25M cap hit, the Flyers would have to take back salary of some sorts in addition to at least a 1st round pick & an “A/B” level prospect.
So, before you go calling for Voracek’s head, his tenure with the Flyers has actually been pretty good. The Flyers trading Voracek would come only with the intention to maximize his value & restock the farm system. A similar move to how the Flyers got Voracek & his line-mate Sean Couturier.
Nolan Patrick’s name was not a typo with prospects needed in a possible trade of James van Riemsdyk. Patrick, who missed the 2019-2020 season with a migraine disorder, doesn’t seem to have a spot on the Flyers anymore.
With the signing of Kevin Hayes to pair with Sean Couturier, Patrick now slots into the 3rd center role. A role Patrick performed in very well during his rookie season. However, that role seems to be up in the air now.
Patrick now has competition for that role. Morgan Frost & Scott Laughton both will compete with Patrick for the 3rd center role come training camp. Whether Patrick likes it or not, his once locked-in position in the lineup is now just not there. Which, could lead to the Flyers exploring trade options for Patrick.
In need of a new contract this offseason, Patrick’s value is unknown to everyone. Including in his contract discussions with the Flyers. But, with the expansion draft next year, GM Chuck Fletcher could use that to his advantage. Giving Patrick a prove-it type deal with the knowing in the back of his head that if Patrick doesn’t, Fletcher could offer Patrick to Seattle to take on a high-salary. Like a James van Riemsdyk.