How Flyers hope to fill remaining roles through free agency

Kyle Palmieri

While the makeover might look fairly complete, the Flyers still know there’s still some work to do.

General manager Chuck Fletcher has made a number of headline trades to rebuild his defense, adding Nashville’s Ryan Ellis and Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen.

He also restructured his veteran leadership group by bringing in Columbus forward Cam Atkinson to replace Jake Voracek.

Yet there remain some items to check off on the shopping list, including some two-way forwards to help with special teams, plus a potential backup goaltender to work with starter Carter Hart.

That’s where Wednesday’s start of the NHL free agent signing period (12 noon Eastern time) comes in.

At a press briefing prior to the NHL Entry Draft, Fletcher spoke about his plans.

“Adding another goalie will be paramount and we’ll look to see if we can add a little bit more depth,’’ Fletcher said. “We still want to look at potentially adding some players that can help with the penalty kill up front and those are the types of discussions we’re having now.’’

The recent signing of Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin (no shocker there) to a new contract lightens the free agent field a bit.

Here are some of the remaining top forwards on the market:

>Gabriel Landeskog, LW: Former captain of the Avalanche, a bit too costly with his last contract at $5.5 million.

>Phillip Danault, C: A valuable player in Montreal’s surprise trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Made only $3.0 million on last deal.

>Blake Coleman, LW: A workhorse in Tampa Bay’s drive to repeat championships. Could be a bargain if he’s not looking for much of a raise off his $1.8-million old deal.

>Kyle Palmieri, RW: This is the guy we would sign in a heartbeat. He’s a meat-and-potatoes player with plenty of grit. Was making $4.6 million.

>David Krejci, C: Maybe the Flyers should sign this guy just so they don’t have to play against him. At 35, a bit long in the tooth and pricetag (was making $7.5 million) too high for Flyers’ blood.

>Brendan Saad, LW: Talented and productive all the way back to his Blackhawk days but can’t seem to stay put (coming off $6.0 million).

>Paul Stastny, C/LW: At 35, his better days are behind him but if the $6.5-million tag comes way down, would be an experienced voice in locker room.

And as for goalies:

>Braden Holtby: Won a Cup with Washington. Might be some tread left on these tires.

>Tuukka Rask: A little surprised Bruins are letting him walk.

>Philipp Grubauer: Did some fine work with the Avalanche.

>Robin Lehner: Played a backup role at Vegas, so maybe. . .

>Corey Crawford: Another Stanley Cup winner while playing for Chicago. All these big names show how volatile the goalie market is now in a flat cap era.

“We still have work to do,’’ Fletcher reiterated. “Obviously, we have to add a goalie. I think I would certainly look at another defenseman and another forward up front to add some more depth and yet we know we have some good kids that are going to push for opportunities. We’re excited. I think we’re going to be a deep team. We’re going to have maybe a little bit more experienced team, particularly on the blue line.’’

Are internal reinforcements on the way? Ones who can step in and play in the NHL now? Defenseman Cam York’s name comes to mind. And maybe a Morgan Frost up front.

Young veterans on the roster also have something to prove.

“I think we’re going to have some guys coming back hungry and energized, ready to go,’’ Fletcher said. “I’ve spoken to several players in the last 24 to 48 hours and they’re fired up. They’re excited. They finally feel like last year’s in the past and that it’s going to be a different world, a different camp, a different and, in my opinion, a better team.’’

All these changes could bring a change in attitude throughout the organization.

“We have a big to-do list and we’re chipping away at it,’’ Fletcher said. “I think we’re making good progress. The exciting thing is I think we can still add. We’ll see next year, but there will be energy next year.’’

About Wayne Fish 1410 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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