Shayne Gostisbehere believes he can get back to the flashy but efficient player he once was if given enough time to state his case.
On Tuesday, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said the Flyers are hopeful the defenseman can get back to full health during the upcoming “second’’ offseason.
Gostisbehere, 27, underwent a pair of knee operations and wasn’t quite himself during the postseason. By the end of the playoffs, Robert Hagg had replaced him in the lineup.
The issue might be whether Gostisbehere can provide enough to justify three more seasons on a contract paying him $4.5 million annually.
“I think it’s pretty well documented and I think Shayne spoke to this at the end of year, I don’t think he felt right for a lot for the year physically,’’ Fletcher said.
“He took the time to correct an issue he had, a lower-body issue that he had. I think when he came back into the bubble, he was skating better than he had all season. He had a pop back in his skating stride. He was able to, I thought, cut quicker, turn quicker. He had a little bit more explosiveness, which for Shayne, is critical to his game.’’
The Flyers’ top four defense corps for 2020-21 would appear set with Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen the first tandem and Phil Myers-Travis Sanheim the second.
It would be headline news if Gostisbehere could somehow crack that quartet.
“I think it was a frustrating season and I don’t think physically he was at the level he wanted to be at until the end. Shayne’s 27 years old,’’ Fletcher said. “There’s not many 27-year-olds that have been in the league that have had 60-point seasons. He hasn’t been at that level for a couple of seasons.
“I know physically he feels this is the best he’s been in a couple of years. I know he’s looking forward to showing everybody he can get back to the player he was a few seasons ago.’’
There have been trade rumors involving the Pembroke Pines, Fla. native the past couple years but it sounds like Fletcher wants to see if Gostisbehere can get something going here before making any moves.
>Interest in Ryan?
Cherry Hill, N.J. native Bobby Ryan can become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9 and there should be some interest in the talented forward.
Ryan, who won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his courageous battle to overcome alcoholism, was making $7.5 million on his expiring contract with the Ottawa Senators but he won’t be making close to that on his next contract.
It goes without saying the 33-year-old Ryan certainly would seem a natural fit in a Flyer uniform but there are questions about his future. After scoring 131 goals in his first four full seasons with the Anaheim Ducks, Ryan hasn’t scored more than 15 in a season since 2015-16.
“That’s hard to say where he’ll land,’’ Fletcher said. “I can tell you I was in Anaheim when we drafted Bobby (2005, No. 2 overall). I’ve known him for a long time, he’s a tremendous person, he’s been a very good hockey player in this league.
“His recent battles have been well documented. Clearly he’s worked hard to get himself to a better place. He deserves a tremendous amount of credit. A wonderful person and I wish him nothing but the best. It’s hard to say what will transpire here next week.’’
>Flyers gauging market on free agents
Fletcher figures to be busy negotiating both with his restricted and possible unrestricted free agents.
Backup goaltender Brian Elliott, forwards Tyler Pitlick, Derek Grant, Nate Thompson and defenseman Justin Braun head the list of potential UFAs.
Myers and the injured Nolan Patrick are the only notable RFAs on the NHL roster.
“I’ve had preliminary conversations with the all the agents for the UFAs on our team,’’ Fletcher said. “What I’ve kind of indicated to all of them is that I wanted to speak to every team in the league at the end of the season. I wanted to get a sense where our RFAs, what the market will be for them in terms how much of a cost for us to re-sign them.
“I wanted to give our staff a couple weeks to decompress before we got into our players. We’re still going through the process. It’s been a real busy few weeks here. Starting to get a feel for what’s available in the market in terms of trades. Starting to get a feel for what RFAs are looking for. Over the next week, we’ll start to address our own UFAs and see if there’s a fit. We’ve had some preliminary conversations with the agents. More importantly with this stage of the offseason, we’ve been doing a lot of due diligence and a lot of homework to assess what we really need to do.’’