The focus for today’s news and rumors surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers involves the defencemen, good and bad. We will first look at the most recent signing, then news about a mutual dislike between the team and their star defenceman, possibly the final call-up for their young defenceman of the future, and more news on teams the Flyers are scouting.
Flyers Lock Up Ristolainen to Deal
The Flyers signed Rasmus Ristolainen to a five-year, $25.5 million deal that averages out to $5.1 million a season. They now have their top-four covered on the right side with Ryan Ellis also signed for five more seasons.
When the Flyers made that trade to bring in Ristolainen, the goal was always to sign him to an extension. A team can’t be paying the price of a first-round plus pick for a second pairing defenceman and let him walk or trade him for much less in a down season. Now they have his services for five more seasons.
Many point to his statistics, but he played his entire career on a horrible Buffalo Sabres team and on a bad team this year in Philadelphia. Due to the season, his trade value plummeted and it made more sense to sign him knowing his ceiling and what he can bring when there’s support. Dennis Bernstein spoke on The Fourth Period and added that it frees up the possibility of a more lucrative return in a deal sending Travis Sanheim or Ivan Provorov to a different team.
He brings physicality, offensive capabilities as he’s shown throughout his career on the Sabres, and a presence on the back-end that every team needs. The contract is in question by many, and Charlie O’Connor of The Athletic writes that it will cost the Flyers to prioritize his style of play over results (“With Rasmus Ristolainen extension, Flyers prioritize style of play over results — and it will cost them”, The Athletic, March 10, 2022).
The Flyers do not have physical defence and they are generally easy to play against. Take this season for example. Ristolainen has 182 hits. The next closest defencemen are Justin Braun (74) who is going to be traded at the deadline and Nick Seeler (69) who is a seventh defenceman. After that, it’s Ivan Provorov who has just 45. It may cause the Flyers a bit of cap trouble next season, but this is only the beginning of what is expected to happen in what looks to be a very busy trade deadline and offseason for the Flyers to retool.
Along with the physical presence he brings to the ice, Ristolainen also fits in well in Philadelphia in the room. He likes the players and everybody likes him. Elliotte Friedman brings up a game where the Flyers seemed to have confirmed their decision to make things work between Ristolainen and them after a game vs the Washington Capitals where he played them very hard. The Capitals are a tough team to play against and they play hard as well. Friedman said on 32 Thoughts: The Podcast the Flyers looked at it like “that’s the identity of where we want to be, we think he’s a big part of that, and he really competes.”
Mutual Dislike Between Flyers & Provorov
It seems as though the Flyers have had enough of Provorov and his struggles. His play is a big part of why they are where they are, taking away any impacts of injuries that have affected their team. Friedman believes that he would have been scratched already this season if he didn’t have the pedigree that he has being a high draft pick, making a significant amount of money, and the expectation of being a cornerstone franchise defenceman for the team.
The Flyers are trying to figure out what they can do with Provorov and what is his future there. He was taken off the power play and replaced with Cam York who assisted on a power-play goal by Travis Konecny in their loss to the Florida Panthers. This could be a sign of things to come seeing as York is a left-shot defenceman and is NHL-ready.
Friedman also stated that he heard “if the Flyers sign Ristolainen, it’s the first domino in some other things.” This would likely start on the back-end seeing as they would be paying their top-four defencemen nearly $23 million next season and they have a young defenceman who can assume a top-four role.
Cam York Recalled to NHL
York has once again gotten the call to the Flyers and this time he should be here to stay. He and Morgan Frost were last sent down to get the puck touches and ice time they needed to develop properly last time they were sent down to the American Hockey League (AHL). Now that the trade deadline approaches, it was expected that they would get the call once again to join the team.
York is the first to be recalled, as it’s almost a certainty at this point that Braun is going to be dealt at the deadline this year to a contender (“Flyers’ fond memories of Cam York carry him back up to the NHL”, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 10, 2022). This time around, the Flyers have slotted York in on the right side even though he normally plays the left side. I still envision he will be a top-four left defence down the line, but they currently have Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Keith Yandle so there is more room and opportunity to play on the right side right now.
Flyers Scouting Everyone
As the 2022 trade deadline approaches, the Flyers have now sent all of their scouts out to look at everyone who could potentially be a trade partner with them. They had recently been seen scouting the Florida Panthers’ affiliate the Charlotte Checkers, presumably to watch Owen Tippett, but now they have attended the Panthers’ games. David Pagnotta also mentions the Flyers have scouted the New York Rangers and a few other teams.
A ton is going on around the Flyers’ organization and the hope is that all the transactions can lead to a successful 2022-23 season so we can be discussing the team being buyers at next year’s trade deadline.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats News, trade talks, and daily betting guides.
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