After a disappointing 2018-19 season, the Philadelphia Flyers find themselves in a situation in which they have many pieces that could make them a playoff team, but not enough to actually take that next step. The franchise, who many thought would be a playoff contender last year, instead struggled out of the gate, before both general manager Ron Hextall and head coach Dave Hakstol lost their jobs and the team limped to a disappointing finish.
The Flyers, now under the control of new general manager Chuck Fletcher, are ready to make their next move and upgrade their team for a playoff run, according to NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman. The team has $33.4MM in cap space available to them and, while they do have some restricted free agents they must sign (including Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim), they still should have quite a bit of cap space to make key moves. Rumors also suggest the team may be willing to move defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere in the right deal to add more scoring and a second-line center. Fletcher tells Kimelman that, one way or another, the team will be aggressive this summer:
I think we’re going to be very aggressive in the trade and free agent markets in the sense of looking into every possible situation that can help us. The unfortunate part is the vast majority of things you look into don’t work out. … So we’re going to be very aggressive in trying to fill the holes we feel we have. I don’t know if I can say we’ll be able to fill all of them.
However, Philly.com’s Sam Carchidi added today that the team would be willing to move their first-round pick, if it means filling all of those holes, and that Fletcher has already been listening to offers. “If we can get a good player at the right stage of his career and with some term left on his contract, we’d certainly look at it,” Fletcher said, while adding that if they don’t get the right offer, they’d be happy to keep the pick.
If the team cannot pull off a big trade, Fletcher has said the team would be more than willing to bring in veteran players on short-term deals. The other option would be to allow some of their top young prospects to earn their way into the lineup a little quicker than originally anticipated. The team does have a number of interesting prospects, including forwards Morgan Frost, Isaac Ratcliffe, and Joel Farabee, who will all be turning pro this season. Fletcher feels that this depth of young talent could be ready to make a difference this year, if necessary:
[The young players] certainly could be [roster options]. I think the odds would be against them making our team coming out of camp. But I don’t like cutting players before training camp. I say that because I think our expectation is we’ll find a player or two to come in. For 20-year-old kids, in Farabee’s case 19, to get some playing time in the [American Hockey League] is always a preferable option. But if they come in and they earn it, and there’s been players every year that seem to do it around the league, then certainly we won’t hold them back.