After the completion of the 2021-22 NHL season, the Philadelphia Flyers quickly learned their lineup was not enough to compete in the Metropolitan Division. Regardless of the number of injuries the team dealt with over the course of the season, forward depth was a significant problem that needs to be addressed during the offseason. Now that the offseason is officially here, the front office needs to begin the process of searching for one or two top-end forwards to solidify a more dangerous offense for 2022-23.
The free-agent market this summer is going to provide more than enough high-end talent the Flyers could snatch up for a decent price as long as the team drops some significant contracts first. Current Flyers forward, James van Riemsdyk has one year remaining on his current deal, but the team will more than likely move on from him a second time before it expires at the end of this season. He was supposed to fill a major role in the Flyers’ lineup over the last few years, but things have not worked out as intended. In 82 games played last season, he only put up 38 points (24 goals and 14 assists), which was a major disappointment.
If the Flyers want to be more competitive next season, something is going to have to change this offseason. Not only was last season disappointing, but it also proved this team is not good enough to compete in the playoffs. If a few high-end pieces are added, things might change quicker than expected, but there are no guarantees in the NHL.
The Hometown Hero – Johnny Gaudreau
One of the highly sought-after free agent forwards this offseason just so happens to be a native of the greater Philadelphia region. A native of Salem, New Jersey, Johnny Gaudreau grew up playing hockey less than one hour from the city of Philadelphia. As a youngster, he dreamed of playing for his favorite team one day but was drafted 104th overall by the Calgary Flames in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. With the Flames, he has been nothing but impressive over the course of his career as he has put up 609 career points (210 goals and 399 assists) in 602 career games.
Gaudreau would be one of the biggest additions the Flyers could make to this current lineup without any questions asked. His ability to move the puck and put the puck in the back of the net is something this team severely lacked last season. While he is more than happy to stay in Calgary, he has never ruled out the option of coming to play for his hometown team. He is set to become a free agent following this season so the option of coming to play for the orange and black is always on the table. “Everyone wants to play for their hometown team eventually,” Gaudreau said at an event at his alma mater, Gloucester Catholic High, in 2016 (from ‘’South Jersey hockey stars, now in the NHL, visit their old high school,’ The Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/12/16).
Now that the opportunity to move on from his former team is finally a reality, Gaudreau could make a childhood dream come true, but the money would obviously have to be right. The 28-year-old forward has more than enough left in the tank to sign a long-term contract with whatever team he likes, but ultimately that decision is in his hands. More than enough teams are going to make a run at the high-scoring forward this offseason, but hopefully, the Flyers come out on top of that battle when all is said and done. His raw talent makes the team that much better the moment he steps onto the ice, so this move is almost a no-brainer to put the Flyers in a better situation heading into next season.
The Swedish Sniper – Filip Forsberg
Drafted 11th overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, forward Filip Forsberg has made a name for himself over the course of his career. Shortly after being drafted, he was traded to the Nashville Predators in a deal that still has Capitals fans scratching their heads to this day. Not only did Nashville win the trade, but the team gained one of the best forwards in the team’s recent history. In 566 career games with the Predators, Forsberg has netted 469 points (220 goals and 249 assists) and counting. He is set to become a free agent this summer following a career season, but it has not yet been determined if he will return to Nashville just yet.
“I’ve said that since Day One: The goal is to come back here,” Forsberg said. “The business side is completely different than the on-ice side. [We’ll] just kind of have to wait and see and play it out. There’s been obviously some progression throughout the season [regarding negotiations] from where we started in September, and me and my agent and [Poile] are going to be in the ongoing conversation in the process. We’ll just have to see where we end.”
The 27-year-old is regarded as one of the most skilled forwards in the league for his caliber and style of play. He would boost the lineup of whichever team he decides to sign with this offseason. One of the teams in consideration should be the Flyers as his style of play would fit perfectly with Joel Farabee, Kevin Hayes, and Cam Atkinson on the top line or even the first powerplay unit. They could use someone like him to boost their offense heading into next year and be more competitive against their division rivals.
Regardless of what the Flyers do this offseason, something needs to change in order to be more competitive. Year after year the organization has accepted mediocrity and not winning games. Maybe things will finally turn around this offseason, but only if the right moves are made. Forwards like Gaudreau and Forsberg could change the franchise for the better, but only if the organization is willing to pay them what they deserve.
Bobby Bader Jr. is a freelance journalist born and raised in Philadelphia, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers since the start of the 2020-21 National Hockey League Season. He currently works with the Hershey Cubs Hockey Club (USPHL Premier) as the team’s media coordinator and serves as the Assistant Sports Information Director at Penn State Harrisburg. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Bobby on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo in articles like this one.