Flyers News & Rumors: Tkachuk, Frost, Tortorella Sounds Off

The Philadelphia Flyers continue to work towards finalizing their roster ahead of the 2022-23 season. They signed restricted free agents (RFAs) Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe to one-year contracts and revealed some indicators about their internal opinions of the development of young defensemen Cam York and Ronnie Attard. General manager (GM) Chuck Fletcher will not, however, pursue the big names still left on the market, a fact that newly-hired head coach John Tortorella passionately defended.

Tortorella Sounds Off 

Tortorella has built a reputation of blunt honesty over his 20 seasons of experience as an NHL head coach. The authenticity has frequently manifested itself in defense of his own team. He stayed true to that reputation when he spoke to NBC Sports Philadelphia on Wednesday about the rampant criticism aimed toward the Flyers by fans and media.

“It pisses me off, some of the things that have been said about those guys (Fletcher and other members of the organization) because I think everybody wanted the big splash. Well, we have to wait our turn for that big splash…The thing that bothers me and some of the things I’ve read is people are upset about Tony DeAngelo. Tony DeAngelo’s a hell of a player, Tony DeAngelo has personality. Is he going to say and do some stupid stuff? You’re damn right he is. But I’d rather have a guy doing stupid stuff than having a choir boy here just going about your business.”

-John Tortorella

Fans have a right to agree or disagree with the views expressed in the comments or the direction of the organization overall. However, they should recognize and consider the interests of a fiery coach rushing to the defense of his players and members of the front office as the type of instance that has characterized him throughout his past. The Flyers aren’t paying Tortorella to sugarcoat his feelings.

Tkachuk Leaving Flames

Matthew Tkachuk will likely become the second star winger to leave the Calgary Flames this offseason. Just one week after Johnny Gaudreau signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets, reports revealed that Tkachuk informed Calgary that he will not return next season. GM Brad Treliving will almost certainly demand a substantial return package for the 24-year-old RFA coming off a career-high 104 points in 2021-22.

Matthew Tkachuk Calgary Flames
Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bobby Bader appropriately called Tkachuk “the type of player born to be a member of the orange and black,” but the Flyers will not pursue the option. Fletcher’s plan to stabilize the organization after two disastrous seasons didn’t include allocating significant resources to fill the need for first-line players on the roster. He was unwilling to send the fifth-overall pick to the Chicago Blackhawks in a package for Alex DeBrincat, and he balked at the opportunity to move significant draft capital required to clear cap space to sign Gaudreau. There is no conceivable reason Tkachuk’s availability would change the franchise’s approach.

RFAs Frost, Ratcliffe Staying with Flyers

Frost signed a one-year deal worth $800,000 that will take him to unrestricted free agency after the 2022-23 season. His roller-coaster path of development since he was drafted in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has included two 100-point seasons in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), unfortunate missed opportunities because of the pandemic, a serious shoulder injury that required surgery, and both breaks in confidence and flashes of skill at the NHL level. The 2022-23 season will prove Frost’s value in one way or another.

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

Ratcliffe signed a one-year deal for $813,750. The 23-year-old was selected 35th overall in 2017, just eight spots behind Frost. He played his first 10 NHL games last season with the Flyers and recorded one goal and three assists. The 6-foot-6 winger added a better physical element to his game in the short NHL stretch than he showed over extended periods in 136 career games in the American Hockey League (AHL). He will battle for a roster spot in training camp to begin a season that will likely become an opportunity for multiple young players to establish themselves as full-time NHLers.

Related: Frost, Tippett Handed Golden Opportunity with Flyers in 2022-23

The Flyers will need arbitration to determine the price of Zack MacEwen’s next contract. The gritty fourth-liner finished with nine points and 110 penalty minutes in 75 games in 2021-22, but he added the type of energy that not enough of Philadelphia’s top-liners brought to the team. Owen Tippett, Wade Allison, Jackson Cates, Hayden Hodgson, Linus Hogberg, and Tanner Laczynski also remain unsigned for a team looking to save every possible cent to stay compliant to the salary cap.

Development Camp: Gauthier, York, Attard

The Flyers wrapped up their development camp at the team training center in Vorhees, NJ last week. Cutter Gauthier welcomed his first opportunity to showcase the raw ability that made him the fifth-overall pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Charlie O’Connor focused on the top prospect’s exceptional shot, puck control skills, and potent yet raw talent in his camp recap (from The Athletic, “Flyers prospects update: Gauthier’s upside, Attard’s development, Foerster’s playmaking, more,” 7/18/22). Gauthier will spend the 2022-23 season at Boston College, where Kevin Hayes, Cam Atkinson, and Patrick Brown also played.

Kjell Samuelsson commented on the development of defenseman Cam York entering 2022-23.

“Well, I think he’s (York is) ready in my mind. He’s been working very hard here the whole summer. He got stronger. It’s above my pay grade to decide if he’s going to play in the NHL or not. In my mind, he’s ready to play in the NHL,” he said.

York will likely battle with Ronnie Attard for a roster spot in training camp, especially if Ryan Ellis isn’t healthy to begin the season. Attard showcased his potential in 15 NHL games last season, and he made impressive progress in the short span despite some glaring defensive woes immediately after he made the jump from the NCAA level in April. York figures to be the front runner with an extra season of professional experience under his belt.

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