Let’s face it. There’s some work to be done in Philadelphia this summer. Ron Hextall freed up some cap space at the trade deadline. With the cap expected to go up next season, the Flyers have some room to work with. Here are three free agent signings they could make.
1) Justin Williams
Rekindling an old flame? Why not? Williams is at the end of his deal with the Los Angeles Kings. He carried a manageable cap hit of $3.65 million this season. Williams has stayed relatively healthy the past few seasons and is still only 33 years old. The Flyers almost surely wouldn’t have to exceed his current cap hit. He also would look pretty good along side Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.
If the Flyers can manage to get rid of Matt Read, Justin Williams would certainly be a viable replacement. He’s an experienced veteran who can produce, and wouldn’t carry a huge price tag. He also is a winger. The Flyers are overloaded with centers, so it would be a welcomed addition.
2) Mike Green
Mike Green isn’t the offensive machine he used to be, but he still puts up substantial points for a defenseman. Through 70 games this
season, he has 45 points (with his magic twig). Another aspect of Mike Green’s game? Speed. Aside from Michael Del Zotto and Mark Streit, he Flyers blue line lacks speed, and it shows. Throw Mike Green into the mix, and that leaves the Flyers with three offensive minded defensemen. He would be a significant upgrade over Andrew MacDonald as well (who has been a day 1 bust).
The problem with Mike Green? Money. Green will most likely be the top free agent defenseman on the market this off-season, so he will
command a pretty penny. Green is coming off of a contract that saw a cap hit of $6.25 million. Using Gary Bettman’s projection with a cap of $73 million next season, that leaves the Flyers with nearly $11 million to spend this offseason. The only notable players not signed for next season are Michael Del Zotto and Ryan White. That should leave more than enough cap space to sign a guy like Mike Green. While Green will command a hefty salary, it’s unlikely he will cost the same amount he did with his last contract. That came after his 70-plus point seasons.
3) Vladimir Tarasenko
Yes, you read that correctly, and it gets interesting once you break it down.
Now you’re thinking to yourself, “Isn’t he a restricted free agent?”. The answer to that is yes. But don’t put it over Ron Hextall’s head. If you remember back to 2012, the Flyers inked Shea Weber to a ridiculous offer sheet which was worth upwards of $110 million over 14 years. That didn’t work out, but it sent waves through the hockey world, letting everyone know that the Flyers weren’t afraid to go that route.
Tarasenko has fallen into his own this season. He is among the league leaders in +/- (+25), points (71), and goals (36). The Blues are losing 9
players to free agency this off-season, and will only have around $15 million in cap space to fill all of those voids. Tarasenko is expected to command around $6-$7 million per year, according to TSN. That’s a steep price. The Flyers could send an offer sheet his way. A Tarasenko-Giroux-Voracek line would likely be lethal.
If the Flyers were to do the unlikely and sign Tarasenko to an offer sheet, and the Blues didn’t match it, they would pay heavily in draft picks. However, that might be something they can afford to do given the amount of picks they have this year, and the strong list of prospects they tout. Even if the Flyers offered Tarasenko an offer sheet with a cap hit of $7 million per year, that still leaves them with around $4-$5 million to sign Michael Del Zotto, something they also need to do.
It’s highly unlikely the Blues would play games with their most prized possession, but the Flyers could make things very interesting by throwing an offer sheet Tarasenko’s way. You never know what might happen. If Tarasenko were to continue the way he has played this season, it could drastically alter the Flyer landscape.
Matt is a contributor for the Philadelphia Flyers at The Hockey Writers. He has previously covered the Flyers for GrandstandU. He enjoys playing hockey and making music in his spare time.