After trading star center and face-of-the franchise Claude Giroux at the NHL Trade Deadline a few weeks ago, the Philadelphia Flyers have recently been linked to the center market for this upcoming offseason. The Flyers have never been a team that has looked to go into a full rebuild, and it appears they won’t break that trend after a dreadful season which is still ongoing. The team has dealt with a slew of injuries, most notably to defenseman Ryan Ellis, who the Flyers acquired last offseason to add to what was expected to be a formidable defense group.
Looking towards next season, the Flyers are poised to bring back a strong group of veteran defensemen, and a mix of young and veteran wingers who, if healthy, could be rather competitive. Philadelphia’s center depth, however, could use an upgrade, especially now that Giroux is out of the picture. Right now, the Flyers could expect Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, Morgan Frost, Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny, and Patrick Brown to compete for spots up the middle next year, with some spilling over to roles on the wing.
One intriguing name speculated by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman in his 32 Thoughts, was Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri. After a career-high 61 points in 82 games back in the 2016-17 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kadri has exploded in a career year for Colorado before heading into free agency this offseason. Kadri currently has 83 points, including 26 goals and 57 assists, in 65 games this season. One concern however, is that as talented as Kadri is, he will turn 32 years old just in time for the start of next season, and after this breakout season, it would seem highly likely that he will seek a six or seven year contract, says Anthony Di Marco of The Fourth Period (link). A seven-year deal would carry Kadri through his age-38 season, and could cause some issues for the Flyers in the back half of that potential deal.
Di Marco also suggests Carolina Hurricanes’ center Vincent Trocheck as an option for Philadelphia. Trocheck is certainly not the presence Kadri has been, however he has long been considered a reliable, 200 foot player for his teams. The veteran has had an impressive 46 points in 70 games for the Hurricanes this season, however that is still well short of his career best 75 points in 82 games for the Florida Panthers back in 2017-18.
What might make Trocheck the more intriguing option for the Flyers is his age. He will be 29 years old on opening night, nearly three years younger than Kadri, and teams may have the ability to sign him to a shorter deal, perhaps four to six years. Although Kadri surely has the edge over Trocheck in their overall game, Trocheck would still fit nicely on a second line, lengthening the Flyers’ lineup down the middle and giving players like Hayes, Konecny, or Frost chances on the wing.
In addition to Kadri and Trocheck, there are several more pending UFAs at center that the Flyers could pursue to fill the need, such as the Hurricanes’ Max Domi, the New York Rangers’ Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp, and the Winnipeg Jets’ Paul Stastny, to name a few. Each of these names would be a step back from someone like Trocheck, but each can provide a middle-six presence at center that the Flyers are looking to add.
After all, despite being injured and out for the remainder of this season, the Flyers still have Couturier, one of the NHL’s elite centers, under contract through 2029-30. What the Flyers have planned for the offseason is still a mystery, but the options on the table are rather intriguing, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that despite their struggles this season, their internal options are certainly legitimate.