Flyers’ Nick Seeler Signing Gives Young Defensemen Time to Develop

The Philadelphia Flyers got started early in their offseason by bringing back depth defenceman Nick Seeler. He was signed to a two-year, one-way/two-way contract at $775,000 AAV (average annual value), meaning in 2022-23, he has a one-way, but the following year, it becomes a two-way contract.

Seeler, 28, can play both ends of the ice. His professional career consists of 112 American Hockey League (AHL) games and 148 NHL games split between the Minnesota Wild (the team that drafted him), the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Flyers. After signing a one-year deal with Philadelphia last season, the team thought highly enough of him and his play to keep him with the organization for two more seasons.

What Seeler Brings to the Flyers

The Flyers knew what they were getting in Seeler. He’s an open book with no surprises. He plays the game hard and is defensive-minded. He has never been counted on or expected to put up points, but the big man can be relied upon to protect the net and rough up opponents.

“Nick Seeler is at best a 7th defenseman in the NHL. In theory, it’s an acceptable signing in that the Flyers could send him down to the AHL, at which point his money wouldn’t count against the cap. The team knows what they have in the guy, but the hope if you’re a Flyers fan is that Chuck Fletcher won’t wait until the end of the off-season to dumpster dive for a 6th defenseman. Doing so runs you into the same desperate situation where you talk yourself into a turnstile like Keith Yandle just ahead of camp. That simply cannot happen ahead of next season, regardless of whether this team opts to sell themselves as a Cup contender or embraces the reality that they’ll be a mediocre-at-best team.”

Russ Cohen, O&B Puckcast

This touches on Seeler’s role. He will likely see far fewer than 43 games next season with a healthier lineup and young players knocking on the door. It isn’t a big step to think that in 2022-23, he will be sent down to Lehigh Valley to play in the AHL if younger and better options emerge. The benefit of this is his dollar value and how little it will cost them cap-wise to have him and send him down if needed.

Nick Seeler, Philadelphia Flyers
Nick Seeler, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Seeler won over Flyers fans with his tough play, especially when not much was going right for the team. He knew his role and helped turn the tides of a game or tough stretch when scoring didn’t come often. It was also a way to win over his teammates and the city. He brings a style of hockey that has been missing from the roster and that fans have been longing for.

The hope is that things on the back-end won’t get so bad again, but if it does, Seeler is signed to add a bit of grit when needed.

Why the Flyers Made This Move

Seeler is an insurance policy. Nothing crazy is expected of him. He should be able to jump into the lineup when needed, play 10-15 minutes of hard hockey and be an extra body who is stronger defensively. On a team that was a minus-87 this season, Seeler ended with a minus-3, 75 hits, and 67 blocked shots.

General manager Chuck Fletcher has made it clear he will be retooling the team. What that means exactly remains to be seen since things are just getting started. The Flyers are in the process of integrating many young players into their lineup as they look to get younger and find their next core group who will make them competitive.

That group includes Cam York, who has secured his spot on the roster for 2022-23. Two other defensemen to watch are Ronnie Attard and Egor Zamula, who got in some NHL games this season. The Flyers aren’t trying to rush either of them into a full-time NHL role, and we could easily see both of them spend time in the AHL and NHL next season. That is why Seeler was signed to this deal; to create a safety net in case neither takes a step forward.

Related: Should the Flyers Trade or Keep Their 5th-Overall Pick in the 2022 Draft?

Seeler can play in the NHL in a bottom-pairing role, while Attard and/or Zamula could be ready for a full-time role on the Flyers by the time Seeler’s contract becomes two-way.

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