Season #1 under head coach Alain Vigneault is in the books. A season that had many positives & looked extremely promising before the Covid shutdown. But, ended with a 2nd round exit to the New York Islanders.
After the 2018-2019 season, GM Chuck Fletcher put his stamp on the Flyers. Making trades for veterans Matt Niskanen & Justin Braun to help with the young defense core. Moves that signaled Fletcher saw a void in the veteran leadership on the Flyers blue-line.
Now, after year one under Alain Vigneault, it is Vigneault’s turn to fill the voids he believes are missing on the Flyers. Voids that Vigneault talked about in his exit-interview.
“I believe that we’ve got a lot of kids right now that are ready for increased roles. I believe that there are a lot of players that were up and down during the year that are close to knocking on the door. Now does that mean that they’ll figure it out and they’ll find a way to contribute and help this team win and stay in the NHL. That’s usually why you have training camp and that’s why you go through different phases of a season. Then if you’ve got to adjust your lineup you do that. I think like Chuck mentioned to me a couple times, I’m pretty sure he mentioned to you, we’re going to look and he’s always looking to see if we can improve the team in certain areas. The one thing that I find about this organization, this team, this franchise, is we’ve got a lot of these young players right now that are pushing and probably need an opportunity to see if they can’t make this league. It’s going to be interesting.” – Alain Vigneault
Looking to improve on certain areas will have a big effect & influence from Vigneault. What players are ready & what positions need to be addressed will come from Vigneault. Which may lead to the Flyers looking at some veterans with ties to Vigneault previously.
If Vigneault decides the Flyers need a more proven choice for the voids, these veterans, that Vigneault knows very well, could be on that list.
In 2013, Jesper Fast participated in his 1st training camp with the New York Rangers. After impressing then head coach Alain Vigneault, Fast made the Rangers out of training camp. Surprising everyone for the first year pro in North America.
After being drafted in 2010, Fast made his way to the Rangers after three impressive years in the SHL as a teenager. A track that current Flyer Oskar Lindblom took as well.
Under Vigneault in New York, Fast had his best seasons. In 287 career games, Fast scored 35G & 63A in multiple roles. With two of his best seasons coming on the wing of current Flyer Kevin Hayes. Producing 18G & 33A in 130 games.
What Fast can bring to the Flyers is something current Flyer Michael Raffl already brings. A guy that knows his role, can contribute offensively, & can play on any line. But, the most important tool is speed. Which is something the Flyers got taken advantage of against the Islanders.
To bring Fast to Philadelphia, it will come at a price. A price that would mean someone would more than likely have to be traded away to clear some room. Fast is due a raise from his current $1.85M AAV. A deal similar to Oskar Lindblom’s 3yr-$9M deal is something that Fast will more than likely ask for and get somewhere.
In 2016, the New York Rangers won the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes. A sweepstakes that saw 13 teams, including the Flyers, ask for permission to speak to the Hobey Baker Award winner.
After joining the Rangers, Vesey won the Lars-Erik Sjöberg Award. Which is given to the best rookie in Rangers training camp.
Under Vigneault in New York, Vesey was a consistent goal scorer. In 159 career games, Vesey scored 33G & 22A in a predominantly top-six role. With his best season not coming under Vigneault, but with current Flyer Kevin Hayes in 2018-2019 before Hayes was traded to the Winnipeg Jets. Producing 12G & 13A in 50 games.
What Vesey can bring to the Flyers is size & scoring. Surpassing 16G in all three seasons in New York before struggling in an injury riddled season in Buffalo last year.
To bring Vesey to Philadelphia, it will depend on how Vesey views his value. With Vesey wanting to chose his team after his college career in 2016, his down year may lead to a one-year deal to regain his value. Something that could interest the Flyers if Vesey is willing to sign a 1-year deal around $1.5-1.75M AAV.
While with the New York Rangers, Derek Stepan was consistent as consistent gets. Contributing in all aspects of the game & being a constant 50-point scorer. But, since being traded to Arizona, Stepan hasn’t been the same in an all defensive role.
Under Vigneault in New York, Stepan was Vigneault’s Sean Couturier. A center that Vigneault used in every situation possible. In four seasons under Vigneault, Stepan only missed 24 games. 14-of-which were from a broken leg in 2014. In 304 career games, Stepan scored 72G & 148A.
What Stepan can bring to the Flyers is a veteran center presence to help mature a Morgan Frost or Nolan Patrick. With only one-year left on his deal, Stepan could provide an extra season of development for Frost and/or Patrick.
Stepan carries a $6.5M cap hit. But, will only make $2M in actual dollar value. Which makes him a very interesting trade piece for the Arizona Coyotes. Who need to open up cap space if they want to re-sign Taylor Hall.
To bring Stepan to Philadelphia, it will have to come with the Flyers finding a new home for Shayne Gostisbehere or James van Riemsdyk. If they can trade one of the two, Stepan could be had for a mid-round pick.