While the Philadelphia Flyers took a major step this year by reaching the playoffs and showing some success in their playoff series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was also quite obvious the team must continue to improve their roster if they want to compete for an Eastern Conference title at some point in the near future. While the team’s stable of forwards looks solid, Philly.com’s Sam Carchidi writes that the team’s defense might be the most important issue on the team.
While the team got some good play from many of their defenders, the team’s lack of depth was critical as players like Brandon Manning and Radko Gudas were exposed as weak links on their defense. Even Shayne Gostisbehere struggled in his playoff series with the Penguins. With Manning not expected back and a reduced role for Gudas likely, finding replacements is critical if it wants to take that next step. The team does expect Samuel Morin to earn a full-time role with the defense, but the team needs more.
With approximately $25MM in cap space, free agency might be the most logical way of filling that need, despite general manager Ron Hextall’s struggles at signing free agents. However, with players like John Carlsson, Toby Enstrom, Thomas Hickey, Jack Johnson and Ian Cole out there this summer, the team might find what it needs there.
- Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, who missed the first game of their playoff series and is listed as day-to-day for Sunday’s game, had a successful practice Saturday and will decide tomorrow on whether he’s ready to play with his team up one game against the Washington Capitals. “I feel so much better,” said Malkin (via the Penguins). “We’ll see how I feel overnight. If I play, I’m ready to play. If I play, I need to go 100%. The team won two games without me, great team. They played so hard. If I’m in I’ll try to do my best and make us stronger.”
- Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Yegor Korshkov will not come over to North America this summer like some people originally thought. The 21-year-old wing has signed a one-year extension to remain with his KHL team, Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, according to The Athletic’s Corey Pronman. “The Leafs were OK with my decision but obviously weren’t glad,” said Korshkov (via Igor Eronko). “My position is I should have a leading role in Lokomotiv to leave the KHL. Who knows, maybe in a year I will reach my goal.” Korshkov did improve his goal and points production this year with Lokomotiv, putting up eight goals and 18 assists, but also played 18 more games this season.
- The Athletic’s Mitch Brown (subscription required) breaks down the Montreal Canadiens prospects and how they fared with 2017 seventh-round pick Cayden Primeau leapfrogging to one of the top of the team’s prospect pick. Taken late in the draft last year after possessing the third-worst save percentage in the USHL, the 18-year-old goaltender rebounded with Northeastern University, putting up the best save percentage by an 18-year-old in NCAA history.