NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Even if the Flyers were interested in someone on this year’s NHL unrestricted free agent list, the pickings are rather slim.
At least if you’re looking for someone on the youthful side of things.
As it stands, the Flyers won’t be making or answering too many phone calls when the NHL free agent signing period opens Saturday at 12 noon.
On Thursday’s final day of the NHL Draft at Bridgestone Arena, general manager Daniel Briere advised those who follow his team not to get too excited about possibly signing a player off the UFA docket.
“I don’t expect us to be super active,” Briere said. “We don’t want to block our young guys. We want to give them a chance to play. And we’re not looking for long-term contracts either at this point. So don’t expect much in a couple days on that.”
If the Flyers do an about-face and decide to go after a free agent, the odds are it won’t be someone over the age of 30. Forget about Patrick Kane, Ryan O’Reilly or Patrice Bergeron. They would never fit into the Flyers’ “all-in” rebuild program.
Just ask Kevin Hayes.
However, there are some UFAs in their late 20s who have made their mark in the NHL. Here are eight names that could be considered:
>Tyler Bertuzzi, LW, 28 years old, (last played for Boston).
>Matt Dumba, defenseman, 29, (Minnesota).
>Ivan Barbashev, LW, 27 (Vegas).
>Max Domi, C, 28, (Dallas).
>J.T. Compher, C, 28 (Colorado).
>Michael Bunting, LW, 28 (Toronto).
>Ryan Graves, D, 28 (New Jersey).
>Alexander Kerfoot, C, 29 (Toronto).
All these players still have plenty of mileage left on the tires and could fit in nicely with a contending team.
But there-in lies the rub. The Flyers admit they are still pretty far from contention so, as Briere mentioned, they’re not looking to add a long-term contract.
>Flyer free agents
It will be interesting to see where long-time Flyer veteran left wing James van Riemsdyk winds up. He’s getting up there in years (34) but can still add something to an established contender which needs a net presence on the power play.
Two other Flyers also are entering the free agent pool. Brendan Lemieux was a late-season acquisition but never showed enough to stick around. Kieffer Bellows is not coming back to the Flyers after not being given a qualifying offer.