Usually the Flyers’ headline news on the opening of free agency involves a noteworthy player coming to Philadelphia.
On Friday, it was sort of the opposite – more about players who walked away or others who were rumored to be heading here but didn’t.
Unrestricted free-agent forwards Tyler Pitlick chose to sign with the Arizona Coyotes (two years, $1.75 million cap hit) and Derek Grant went back to the Anaheim Ducks (three years, $1.5 million cap hit).
Topping the possible wish list the Flyers might have had interest in was defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, fresh off his Stanley Cup win with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Shattenkirk ended up signing with the Ducks, three years at $3.9 million per season.
As for defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, rated the best player on the overall free-agent list, St. Louis Blues beat writer Jeremy Rutherford said talks with the Blues are not over yet but as of mid-afternoon, he was considering other offers.
“I’d expect him to visit one of the clubs on his list in the near future,’’ Rutherford wrote on Twitter. “I think this decision/announcement is going to take some time.’’
Pitlick, who came over from the Dallas Stars in a trade back in June, 2019, proved to be a valuable player during his short stay in Philadelphia.
Coach Alain Vigneault took a liking to him and, while he was mainly a third- or fourth-line player, proved effective on the penalty kill and close-game situations.
Pitlick had been playing on the final year of a contract which paid him just $1 million.
He finished with eight goals and 20 points with a plus-11.
Grant, acquired from the Ducks at the NHL trade deadline in February for a fourth-round pick, played seven regular-season games with the Flyers (1-4-5, plus-2) and 15 playoff games (0-2-2).
While Pitlick’s departure might be lamentable, this transaction could allow for the quicker development of young forwards such as Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Joel Farabee.
Also waiting in the wings are rookies Linus Sandin, Tanner Laczynski and Wade Allison.
Assistant general manager Brent Flahr is on board with allowing the young players to gain experience at the NHL level.
“Their mindset is coming to camp to make the team,’’ he said recently. “Whether they’re ready for that, it’s up to them and their performance.’’
Keep in mind the Flyers also have the possible return of two other young forwards, Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick.
Lindblom managed to get into two playoff games after a seven-month battle with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Patrick missed the entire 2019-20 season due to a migraine headache disorder.