The Philadelphia Flyers fan base is still getting over the first-round series loss at the hands of their rivals Pittsburgh Penguins, but there is, however, loads of positive to take from the season, postseason, and whatever is to come in the summer. Fans should be getting more and more excited for the near future in Philly...
According to James O’Brien of NBC Sports, Flyers GM Ron Hextall will be given free rein by his bosses in this summer’s free-agent market. For the first time in years, the Flyers will have considerable salary-cap space in the offseason and they won't miss out on the opportunity to make a splash on either the free agent market or the trade market to improve their roster and become a ruthless Cup contender.
In his latest article, O’Brien notes an $80-million salary-cap ceiling for next season would give them around $22 million to work with. There are also strong rumors that the Flyers are expected to buy out Jori Lehtera's contract, which could put it over $25 million.
"Ron has the flexibility to do whatever he wants with his cap space and his roster,” president Paul Holmgren said, via Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “If that’s the decision he wants to make moving forward, he’s got free rein to do that. I think Ron continues to do what’s right for the organization.”
And so the question is: what IS right for the team?
While there is plenty of cash to pursue a big ticket potential unrestricted free agent such as John Tavares, the Flyers could instead find more affordable options like Patrick Maroon and Michael Grabner up front, Ian Cole for a more experienced blue line and Michael Hutchinson in net as short-term options.
"The Flyers might be better off going in that direction, as they’ll want to continue to give their own drafted players opportunities to seize prominent roles," O'Brien comments.
He however believes that the Flyers might be better off trying to improve via the trade market. He suggests pursuing someone such as Montreal’s Max Pacioretty or Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman in a major trade ahead of next season.
“The Flyers would get at least one season to see how such additions fit into their system, maybe opening the door for a team-friendly extension.”
One thing is certain, Hextall is known to be a very patient GM and in no rush to make senseless blockbuster trades. He might indeed become a huge player on the free-agent market, and might be tempted to swing a transaction or two on the trade market...
But, as O'Brien concludes his piece: Be careful what you wish for.