On July 1st at 12:00 p.m. ET, the 2016 free agency frenzy will commence as teams will scramble to reel in a star player or fill a need for next season and possibly beyond.
Ron Hextall and the Philadelphia Flyers are expected to be players in the free market and they darn well need to be. The team ranked 22nd in the entire National Hockey League in scoring this past season and only managed a measly six goals in six postseason games. More scoring is a must if the Flyers want to improve on their surprising 2015-16 effort.
There are plenty of valuable options in the free agent pool this summer. Unfortunately, Philadelphia finds themselves a little strapped for cash. After signing defenseman, Radko Gudas, to his new four-year contract, the orange and black only have $11,928,334 in projected cap space. This number can be deceiving due to the teams need to still sign Brayden Schenn which is not going to be cheap. In addition, they need to sign other players such as Nick Cousins, Brandon Manning, and Ryan White (maybe). When all of this is said and done, the Flyers will have very little wiggle room to bring in an impactful free agent.
The Flyers spending money will be on the smaller side this summer unless they can find suitors for the likes of Mark Streit and/or Matt Read. However, there are still two key players that Hextall can realistically pursue who can make this team better for the 2016-17 season.
McGinn experienced his best season in 2015-16 spending time with the Buffalo Sabres and the Anaheim Ducks. In 84 games played (because of a trade), he recorded a career-high 22 goals and added 17 assists to his stat sheet. He also found the back of the net twice during the Ducks shorter-than-expected playoff run.
It is hard to believe that McGinn would demand the kind of money that would be out of the Flyers price range. He would provide another veteran presence to the team as well as the ability to score 20-plus goals in a season (something the Flyers could desperately use). The only knock on McGinn is that he tends to be a streaky scorer. Something the Flyers are all too familiar with.
Expect Brouwer to be another player on the Flyers radar once they can begin signing free agents. The 30-year-old winger has demonstrated the ability the score around 20 goals per season since 2009-10. He will not help this team get any younger but will be able to provide veteran leadership and postseason experience to a group in need of it.
Brouwer would be a nice fit in Philadelphia but the Flyers cannot afford to overpay for his services. In a perfect world, one would imagine that Hextall would be able to sign him for a reasonable price but we live in a land full of bad contracts. With the success that Brouwer experienced this postseason, it is likely that some team could be willing to overpay him. This will not be the Flyers.
McGinn and Brouwer are not the “sexiest” or most appealing names in the free agent pool this summer. Unfortunately, the Flyers do not have the money available to bring in a Steven Stamkos or Kyle Okposo. Heck, they don’t even have the cash for a Loui Eriksson or Andrew Ladd.
Hextall needs to sign a forward who can score this summer. The Flyer’s General Manager is going to have to settle for someone who is a little less flashy but can still get the job done. McGinn and Brouwer definitely fit into that category. Of course, there will be other players out there that Philadelphia will show interest in. However, these two are the best of what will be available to them. Flyers’ Nation is just going to have to wait for another summer to reel in a bigger fish.
John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.