While the Flyers are likely to be sellers between now and the February 25th trade deadline, don’t expect it to signal the start of a rebuilding process. In an interview with Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, team chairman Dave Scott indicated that they intend to be much more aggressive in free agency this summer and are prepared to get back to being a team that spends to the Upper Limit:
We’re going to be cap spenders. We want to build the best team possible. Chuck [Fletcher] feels good about a lot of what he inherited. He’ll do more than just draft. He has that experience. We’re going to be aggressive.
While it’s true that Philadelphia hasn’t been a team that has been overly active in free agency in recent years, it’s at least worth noting that they handed out the second-largest contract to an unrestricted free agent last summer when they signed James van Riemsdyk to a five-year, $35MM contract. That one hasn’t gone as well as the team had hoped as the winger has been limited to just 32 games this season due to injury although he has been fairly productive in that span with 22 points (12-10-22).
Former GM Ron Hextall, for the most part, had been hesitant to commit big contracts and instead worked to free up as much salary cap flexibility as possible. He certainly succeeded in doing that as the Flyers are currently poised to finish the season with more than $8MM in cap space, per CapFriendly, an amount that’s likely to increase as they move out a player or two by the deadline.
That alone would give them plenty to work with next summer but they also have more than $17MM in expiring contracts, a list headlined by winger Wayne Simmonds who they still hope to sign to a contract extension. Even if that happens, they’ll still have plenty to work with over the offseason, even after re-signing pending RFAs including winger Travis Konecny plus defensemen Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim.
Between Scott’s comments and having plenty of money to spend with quite a few roster spots to fill over the summer, there’s a very good chance that the Flyers will look a whole lot different over the next several months compared to their current roster.