Flyers News & Rumors: President Search, Frost, Braun

While the NHL’s best teams fight their way through the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers will focus on a critical offseason that will reshape their franchise. The search for a new President of Hockey Operations has dominated the conversation since the 2022-23 season ended on April 13. Decisions in free agency will also come to the forefront once the front office puzzle is complete, and conversations about the future of Morgan Frost have already picked up.

President of Hockey Operations

The search for “the third piece of that collaborative puzzle” to complement Danny Brière and John Tortorella remains the biggest question for the Flyers (from The Athletic, “Rebuilding the Flyers with a ‘triumvirate of leadership’ in hockey ops: Comcast Spectacor CEO Dan Hilferty Q&A,” 4/7/23). Rumors about potential candidates to become the new President have swirled around Philadelphia for weeks. Elliotte Friedman spoke on the 32 Thoughts podcast about how the Flyers plan to narrow down the long list slowly. He also said that Kyle Dubas of the Toronto Maple Leafs is not a likely candidate.

Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving
Former Calgary Flames General Manager Brad Treliving (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal)

Anthony DiMarco spoke on the Stick 2 Hockey podcast about the job description and how it might differ from the norm.

“This is not a traditional President of Hockey Ops hire. I think it’s going to be a lot of working closely with (alternate franchise governor) Val Camillo. I think it’s going to be a lot on marketing the brand (and) focusing a lot on the salary cap. They really want to fix the salary cap and run this thing like a good business and kind of intertwine it with the business side of it, because we have heard rumblings that there was a fractured relationship between the hockey and the business side over the last several years,” he said.

Substack Subscribe to the THW Daily and never miss the best of The Hockey Writers Banner

He mentioned Scott Mellanby, Doug Wilson, Dave Poulin, Cammi Granato, Ray Shero, and Brad Treliving as candidates. Although Shero has consistently come up in discussions since the Flyers announced they would make a separate hire for the President of Hockey Ops, DiMarco believes that Brière’s considerably strong power in roster construction might convince Shero and some other candidates to stay away from the job.

Latest News & Highlights

The Flyers have sunk to their lowest point in franchise history with two consecutive disastrous seasons in 2020-21 and 2021-22 and a forgettable result in 2022-23. They’ve acknowledged their own failure as the basis for their intention to make major changes at all levels of the organization with Brière, newly-hired franchise governor Dan Hilferty, and the new President. They will take the necessary time to evaluate a new power structure before making their final major hire.

Morgan Frost Contract Talks

DiMarco wasn’t done dropping bombs. He spoke about how Frost, a restricted free agent, will likely sign a bridge deal with the Flyers this summer. He also hinted at a potential surprise for a player who spent stretches of the season in Tortorella’s doghouse.

Morgan Frost Philadelphia Flyers
Morgan Frost, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“I don’t think it’s completely off the table that they would go long term with him because I do think they feel that strongly about Morgan Frost being part of the future here. I do think they’re really impressed with the way he responded to adversity, finally,” DiMarco said.

Frost finished the season with 19 goals and 27 assists in 81 games. He took advantage of an opportunity to play an expanded role late in the season when the organization decided to focus on younger players in the big picture of an organizational rebuild. He struggled to drive play until the end of February with a 45.64 expected goal share (xGF%) through 60 games. After the calendar flipped to March, he hit his stride with an impressive 54.38% share in the final 21 games of the season.

Frost didn’t show a great 200-foot game for most of the season. However, his 2.6 expected goals against (xGA) per 60 minutes, per Money Puck, was still better than teammates Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Joel Farabee, and Owen Tippett could manage. The former Ontario Hockey League (OHL) star also contributed some minutes on the penalty kill late in the season.

“That’s probably the biggest thing, in my opinion, for any young player is proving it to yourself before you prove it to anyone. When you prove it to yourself and find that mojo, that’s when your game can really start to take off,” Frost said during his exit interview.

Justin Braun Retires

Justin Braun officially retired from hockey on April 24. He played 13 seasons in the NHL, including the majority of his last four seasons with the Flyers. His best years came with the San Jose Sharks from 2010-2019, when he recorded 154 points in 607 regular-season games and helped his team to an appearance in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. He played 961 regular-season and playoff games in his career.

Justin Braun Philadelphia Flyers Brock Nelson New York Islanders
Justin Braun, Philadelphia Flyers and Brock Nelson, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While he brought value to the team as a reliable stay-at-home defenseman, the Flyers continually asked too much of him during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons with no better option to play on the right side of the top defensive pair next to Ivan Provorov. Nick Seeler inched his way into Tortorella’s good graces on the third defensive pair in 2022-23, which pushed Braun into a limited role as a seventh defenseman who only suited up for 51 games.

Related: 4 Key Storylines of Flyers 2023 Offseason

Braun built a reputation as a great teammate in Philadelphia. He played a serviceable role as a mentor for the young defensemen coming through the organization. The Minnesota native showed his sense of humor late in the 2022-23 season when he jokingly threw his own question into a media scrum in front of Owen Tippett, asking the breakout star what it’s like to all of a sudden score a million goals. He received the Yanick Dupre Class Guy Memorial Award as the Flyer who demonstrates character, dignity, and respect for the sport both on and off the ice for the 2022-23 season.

All advanced stats apply to 5-on-5 play, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (unless otherwise noted).