5 Flyers Who Probably Won’t Be Back Next Season

The Philadelphia Flyers are in an interesting situation. On paper, their roster is built to win, but this season has had other plans. There are a number of unrestricted free agents (UFA) after this season, especially on the back-end. I can easily see the Flyers making as many changes as possible within their limits if this season ends in anything less than a playoff berth.

That being said, a player they would most want to move is James van Riemsdyk who has an AAV (average annual value) of $7 million. This contract was less than ideal from the start. Last season was an anomaly based on how his career has gone, but he was worth the money. This year is a completely different story. The Flyers would have had an easier time moving van Riemsdyk if he was performing at a higher level, but with his lack of production and his contract, they will most likely have to keep him until the end of his contract unless they can retain a good chunk of money.

The Flyers also have a number of players signed for multiple years that are considered the core group they would like to build around. They have nine players on their current roster that are signed past 2022-23. It is anyone’s guess as to whether players with one year remaining will garner interest from other teams and it will heavily depend on where the team is in the standings at the trade deadline.

Claude Giroux

If the Flyers are going to look at retooling their roster, Claude Giroux may not be a part of that plan. The decision is not just up to the team though. He would have to decide if he wants to stay as well. Giroux is a UFA after this season who will have many options come free agency. Are the Flyers willing to pay and extend him for the money and term he will be asking?

I know it’s not the greatest to think about losing a franchise player who has done so much for the organization, but it’s a business and we as fans have no control over the outcome.

Claude Giroux Philadelphia Flyers
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Giroux is still a very effective player, and one of the only bright spots for the Flyers this season. It may be time to part ways with one of the best players to play for this organization and give him a chance to chase the Stanley Cup somewhere else. That’s not to say the Flyers can’t make themselves contenders, things just have to change.

With many UFAs at the end of the season, the Flyers could elect to go shopping externally to bring in some new faces like they did with Cam Atkinson, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Ryan Ellis. Another option is to give more young players a chance to make the team, seeing how there are a number of prospects knocking on the door for their opportunity.

Related: NHL Stat Corner (East): Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Islanders, Flyers

With how the team has regressed the past couple of seasons, I don’t blame Giroux if he wants to test the waters in free agency and move on after not winning in Philadelphia. I think he finished out the year with the team no matter how the season turns out, but it may be the last in a Flyers uniform.

Oskar Lindblom

The Flyers could generate interest from a player like Oskar Lindblom with one more year remaining on his contract and team control after that due to his restricted free agent (RFA) status. Still a young player with potential, his opportunities have been limited and production hasn’t been the same since rejoining the team. Obviously, something that is out of his control, but sometimes injuries or illnesses can have lingering effects.

His cap hit isn’t overly expensive, and if he can put up 17 goals and 33 points again in a full season, a team could see him as worth the shot. With just two points in 25 games this season, he is struggling alongside a team that has also had a tough time scoring goals.

He is likely in need of a change in scenery, and the most likely of the players signed past this season to be traded somewhere to get a better opportunity and more playing time. A rebuilding team or a team near the bottom of the league is most likely to try and acquire Lindblom if he becomes available, as more playing time seems to have a positive impact on his game.

Rasmus Ristolainen

Losing seemed to have followed Ristolainen to Philadelphia, as he just can’t seem to catch a break. His performance has been underwhelming in his first season with the Flyers, recording just five points in 24 games, posting a minus-10 plus/minus, and playing the least amount of ice time per game since the 2014-15 season.

Rasmus Ristolainen, Philadelphia Flyers
Rasmus Ristolainen, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Though he has been the top defenceman on the Buffalo Sabres since early in his career, he seems to miss the bigger minutes and may look to test out free agency for the first time in his career since he is on the last year of his deal. With Ryan Ellis signed for five more seasons after this one, Ristolainen will have a better shot at a more fulfilling career on another team.

Keith Yandle

Keith Yandle was brought in on a very cheap deal to do one thing in particular, run the point on the power play. So far he has done that, recording seven of his 10 assists on the power play. The thing is, the Flyers have two defencemen being paid a large sum of money that can replace Yandle on the power play, as both have spent time on their team’s No. 1 unit and have contributed on the power play this year as well.

I think Yandle would be very open to the idea of staying in Philadelphia since one of his best friends, Kevin Hayes, is a part of the team. He is a great locker room guy, but I think the Flyers may want to move on from him if his on-ice value is limited to just the power play. Last season wasn’t ideal statistically, and part of the reason he was bought out by the Florida Panthers.

The team may elect to test out some of their younger talent on the back-end as well since there is lots of room to do so with only three defencemen signed past this season. They have lots of room to maneuver, but Yandle is a player that would be attractive to a team that has room for a specific role and are in the position to win. He plays less than 16 minutes a night and is a bad minus, but has increased his hitting a bit this season in an attempt to adjust to a different role.

Nate Thompson

Nate Thompson seems like the most obvious choice to not return to the Flyers next season. He is 37 years old and a career depth forward who has only topped the 20-point plateau once in his 15-year career. He may even elect to retire after this season if his health is a concern and no teams give him a chance next season.

The league is getting younger, and the age and skill set of Thompson doesn’t favour him in playing in the NHL much longer. As I stated earlier, the Flyers have many prospects waiting to get their opportunity, and if not re-signing Thompson allows for one of them to get a shot, the Flyers would be smart to go that route.

They have been a team that has some very good depth, so allowing the prospects to turn into full-time NHLers and contribute the same way as players in the past have done should do wonders for the future success in Philadelphia. New blood would be welcomed on this team, but some players have to move on to make that happen.

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