Welcome to Flyers News & Rumors, where we will look at the latest signings the team has made and preview development camp on Aug. 28 – Sept. 1. Restricted free agents Connor Bunnaman and Travis Sanheim agreed to new contracts with the Philadelphia Flyers on Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, respectively. The former will provide depth at the center position for the Flyers, while the latter will return as one of the top four defensemen for the team. Development camp will consist of young players looking to improve their games, make an impression on the Flyers coaching staff or make the opening night roster.
Sanheim Re-Signs With Flyers for Two Years
Sanheim, who agreed to a two-year deal for $9.35 million, an average annual value (AAV) of $4.675 per season, will be entering his fifth season in the NHL come opening night in October. He is looking to rebound from a season in which the Flyers defensive unit struggled as the team allowed the most goals (197) and averaged the most goals against (GA) in the NHL with 3.52 in 2020-21. The penalty killing (PK) unit ranked 30th in the league at 73.1 percent and needs much improvement for the Flyers to be a better team.
General manager Chuck Fletcher acquired defensemen Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen in trades with the Nashville Predators and the Buffalo Sabres, respectively. He traded defenseman Philippe Myers in the deal for Ellis, Shayne Gostisbehere to the Arizona Coyotes, and Robert Hagg to the Sabres in the trade involving Ristolainen earlier this offseason. He also signed unrestricted free agent (UFA) Keith Yandle to a one-year deal once the free agency period commenced.
After previously filing for arbitration in August, the Flyers avoided an arbitration hearing with the new contract agreement. Fletcher is hoping the new acquisitions of Ellis, Ristolainen and Yandle improve the defensive unit as returning Flyers Ivan Provorov and Sanheim will each be paired with different defensemen this season. Sanheim is part of a defense that will have a lot of pressure to redeem itself after a disappointing 2020-21 season.
Bunnaman Re-Signs With Flyers for Two Years
Bunnaman re-signed with the Flyers to a two-year contract that is a two-way deal in 2021-22 but becomes a one-way deal in 2022-23 with an average annual value of $750,000 per season. The center has spent his playing time between the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League (AHL) and the Flyers since 2019 and will look to make the opening night roster for the orange and black. He has appeared in 106 games and accumulated 26 goals and 17 assists for 43 points in three seasons for the Phantoms and has played in 39 games in two seasons for the Flyers.
Bunnaman provided depth for the Flyers at the center position and received an opportunity to play on the roster early last season due to injuries. He is a candidate to start the season with the Phantoms and could receive playing time with the Flyers if the team deals with injuries again. He is one of the young players looking to make an impression on the coaching staff for more playing time with the Flyers.
Flyers Development Camp Begins Aug. 28
Flyers development camp will take place from Aug. 28 – Sept. 1 at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, New Jersey and will consist of 29 participants, including the players drafted in the 2021 Draft. Several of the players who played with the Flyers last season, such as forward Wade Allison and defenseman Cam York, will take part in the development camp. Allison received playing time toward the end of last season and provided energy for a team that was sluggish due to the slump it had been for several weeks. He finished with four goals and three assists for seven points in 14 games.
York only played in three games last season but provided a boost for a struggling defensive unit, and he could make the opening night roster on the third defensive pairing. Center Morgan Frost has an opportunity to play for the Flyers this season after playing for the team in 2020-21 briefly due to an injury to center Sean Couturier. Frost appeared he could provide contributions to the Flyers, but he suffered a dislocated shoulder, which ended his season.
The Flyers continue to finalize their roster in preparation for training camp, which is only a few weeks away as the 2021-22 season begins in less than two months. Their defense will have new pairings, as they will likely be Provorov and Ellis along with Sanheim and Ristolainen. The team has some prospects that could provide energy if they make the roster, such as Allison, York, and Frost. The first few weeks of the Flyers season will be interesting to watch in order to see how the new additions fit with the team and how much the defensive play and penalty killing improves, given how poor the Flyers were in those areas last season.
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.