Flyers Have 3 More Important Moves to Make in Free Agency

The Philadelphia Flyers have already made one big move this offseason in acquiring Tony DeAngelo from the Carolina Hurricanes and signing him to a two-year, $10 million deal. However, there are still some important needs and moves that need to be addressed before next season and even by free agency. First is re-signing backup goaltender Martin Jones, then moving the contract of James van Riemsdyk, and finally, figuring out which high-end forward they are going to target on July 13 and beyond.

Re-Sign Jones as Backup

Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) goalie Ivan Fedotov was expected to come over to North America and compete or have the backup spot on the Flyers this season. But in a very unfortunate turn of events, he’s been forced to do military service for Russia for a year. The Flyers will have to figure out their goaltending situation quickly, and if they haven’t already had discussions with Jones, they should start.

Martin Jones, Philadelphia Flyers
Martin Jones, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Jones performed decently for the circumstance he was in, actually playing better than he did in any of the previous three seasons. As far as free agent backup goaltenders go, he is the best option compared to the likes of Thomas Greiss, Jaroslav Halak, and David Rittich while being more experienced than Charlie Lindgren. Braden Holtby, who would have been a good option, is likely taking at least a year off. Jones should be able to succeed under John Tortorella’s coaching style and with a healthy team in front of him, plus he has the capabilities of taking on more responsibility in net and starting more if need be.

Move On From van Riemsdyk

Multiple sources have hinted at Chuck Fletcher moving on from James van Riemsdyk as free agency is here and they need to free up some cap space. Anthony SanFilippo said the Flyers are working hard to get a deal done and are talking to a few teams which include the Buffalo Sabres and Seattle Kraken, both with lots of cap space and willing to take on the contract to acquire another asset. Elliotte Friedman notes that the Flyers will have to add a sweetener to the mix to get something done, and despite SanFilippo mentioning Fletcher may not be willing to do so, anything less than a second round pick should be a no-brainer to get van Riemsdyk’s contract out for the final season. Mario Tirabassi also mentioned the Chicago Blackhawks, which makes perfect sense in that they have done everything they can to get rid of young talent and bring in draft picks and players on bad contracts.

After a surprising season in 2020-21, van Riemsdyk took a big step back and has forced the Flyers’ hand in moving him before his contract is up. They don’t have the cap space to buy him out, as it wouldn’t do very much in helping them in the short term. Rather they must burn another asset to fix a bad contract. After they just added DeAngelo for $5 million, they are very tight against the cap and moving his full $7 million will go a long way in making a much-needed move for an impactful forward.

Bring in At Least One High-End Forward

As far as impactful forwards go, a number of names that were recently expected to be available in free agency have been taken off the board including Filip Forsberg and Evgeni Malkin. There are still two high-end options available, but it will be a dogfight bringing in Johnny Gaudreau or Nazem Kadri.

Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Gaudreau is of course the top available free agent and the Flyers are one of the projected top destinations for him to end up along with the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils. The Kraken will also be making a strong pitch for the dynamic forward. As money wasn’t the issue, since he rejected a very strong offer from the Calgary Flames, being closer to home and playing in the U.S. might be the deciding factor. When choosing his top destinations, he may also be looking at who he would be playing with and how well the team projects to do, as it will be tough to repeat the 115-point performance he had last year with linemates surely worse than Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk. Gaudreau has also produced the second-most points in the prior season before hitting free agency in NHL history behind Joe Sakic’s 118.

Related: Fletcher’s Mismanagement of Flyers’ Defense Proving Very Costly

Kadri would be a risky signing down the line considering he wants max term (seven years) on his deal, but would be impactful in the regular season and playoffs for the next few seasons. So if Gaudreau can’t be signed, the Flyers may have to resort to the next tier of forwards to acquire a combination of sorts. Solid options there include David Perron, Ondrej Palat, Vincent Trocheck, Ryan Strome, Andrew Copp, Reilly Smith, and Andre Burakovsky as the system Tortorella coaches won’t require superstars to get the job done. That’s just an added bonus.

Whatever Fletcher pulls off must have some sort of large effect on the Flyers’ fortunes in 2022-23. However, it may all be for nothing if he can’t make at least one significant move up front, first move out van Riemsdyk, and add reliable support behind Carter Hart in net.

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