Welcome to Flyers News & Rumors. General manager Chuck Fletcher orchestrated a few trades during the month of July that saw two longtime members of the Philadelphia Flyers in defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and forward Jakub Voracek traded to the Arizona Coyotes and the Columbus Blue Jackets, respectively. Fletcher was looking to shake up the roster, as he mentioned previously in May during a press conference after the disappointing 2020-21 season concluded. Defensemen Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen and forward Cam Atkinson are new additions to the roster that have been acquired via trades. July 28 marked the beginning of free agency in the NHL, and there were several significant signings throughout the league. The Flyers were active during the hectic first day and made several additions.
Martin Jones Signed to Back Up Carter Hart
The previous backup goaltender for the Flyers, Brian Elliott, was an unrestricted free agent and unlikely to return next season with the orange and black. He agreed to a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning and will backup Conn Smythe trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy in 2021-22. The Flyers needed a fresh face at the position and agreed to a one-year contract with goaltender Martin Jones. Jones is an eight-year veteran in the NHL and has played for the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks bought out Jones’ contract and placed him on unconditional waivers prior to his one-year agreement with the Flyers. He had a strong start after the Sharks acquired him, and he helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup Final in the 2015-16 season, where the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated them in six games. Jones has struggled since that season and has been one of the worst starting goaltenders in the NHL since 2018-19, according to the goals saved above expected (GSAx) statistic, which refers to expected goals against minus goals against.
Yandle Signed to Add Depth to Defense, Thompson Returns to Flyers
The Flyers signed veteran defenseman Keith Yandle to a one-year deal, and his offensive skills will come in handy on the power play. He played for Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault previously for two seasons as a member of the New York Rangers, so there is familiarity between them. The Florida Panthers bought out his contract this offseason, which allowed Fletcher to offer him a deal to join the orange and black. He has played in 922 consecutive regular-season games, including all 56 games of the most recent shortened season in 2020-21. He joins a defensive core that has a few other new additions in Ellis and Ristolainen, and the trio will attempt to revitalize a unit that struggled last season.
Forward Nate Thompson returns to the Flyers on a one-year contract after initially being acquired at the trading deadline during the 2019-20 season. The strength of his game is on the penalty kill and to serve as a presence on the fourth line of the team. He is good at winning faceoffs, as he had a percentage of 60.1 percent in 16 postseason games for the Flyers during his first stint with the franchise. He will compete with young players on the roster such as Morgan Frost, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Wade Allison for playing time, and his experience in the league will help the young forwards improve their individual games.
The Flyers signed Ryan Fitzgerald, Adam Clendening, Nick Seeler, Gerald Mayhew and Cooper Zech all to one-year, two-way contracts this week. The players will serve as depth pieces for the Flyers and will play in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Flyers re-signed defenseman Samuel Morin to a one-year contract extension. He appeared in 20 games last season and is another option that will provide depth for the defense.
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Fletcher has made the majority of moves that he aimed to make in order to provide change to a roster that is coming off of a rough season. He altered the team through a number of deals over the last two weeks to change the culture that seemed to be stagnant and needed some new faces in the locker room. Atkinson, Ellis and Yandle are three additions that bring playing experience and leadership to the Flyers. Beginning in October, fans will find out how the new players that were signed and acquired this offseason will mesh with the rest of the team.
Matt covers the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins for The Hockey Writers. Matt’s priority is to contribute exceptional content about the Flyers and Penguins for THW and its readers. To see more of Matt’s writing, visit his portfolio. For interview requests, follow Matt on Twitter that appears at the end of articles for THW.