The Philadelphia Flyers have been linked to a lot of players in the NHL rumor mill and for good reason. Chuck Fletcher needed to step up to the plate this offseason and is looking to improve the team in any way he can. He already landed one big fish in Ryan Ellis last weekend.
The Seattle Kraken unexpectedly took Carsen Twarynski in the Expansion Draft, forcing Fletcher to change plans a bit. He needed to clear some cap space and did that on Thursday. Trading Shayne Gostisbehere (and his $4.5 million cap hit) set the table for more action this weekend.
“I think we have the ability to fill all our holes and maybe focus in on one or two of them,” Fletcher said after trading Gostisbehere. “Ideally, if you can make a hockey trade where you’re moving dollars and taking dollars on and that can maximize your cap space. We’ll just look and see where,” he continued.
That sounds like Fletcher could be talking about someone like Vladimir Tarasenko in St. Louis or Rasmus Ristolainen in Buffalo. The Tarasenko – Jakub Voracek connection is going to be talked about until the trade happens or the teams come out and say they aren’t being traded. Ristolainen is also drawing some interest from around the league.
Fletcher and the Flyers have their hands in a lot of different pots this summer. They’re one of the more active teams in talks this offseason.
“I would say we’re involved in a lot of conversations right now as you tend to be this time of the year,” he said. “We’ll see what we can do here in advance of free agency. We’re certainly in a better position, not just for this year, but also for ’22-‘23 with this move today. Yet we recognize we have a few holes to fill.”
The Flyers rumors continued to swirl on Thursday. Let’s check in on a few of them.
Flyers “would like to do something” with Dougie Hamilton
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger discussed the Dougie Hamilton situation on Insider Trading. He noted that the market for Hamilton is expected to pick up this weekend after the draft.
Hamilton is the No. 1 free agent this summer. The right-handed blueliner will instantly become some team’s best defenseman. Even with Ryan Ellis in tow, that team could be the Flyers.
“Philadelphia would like to do something, but the Flyers don’t have a ton of cap space,” Dreger said. “But Chuck Fletcher can be creative so I wouldn’t count him out of this as well.”
Trading for Ellis seemed like it would be the Flyers’ big defensive acquisition. However, Chuck Fletcher is going big game hunting. Adding Ellis and Hamilton would be a huge win for the Flyers this offseason. But, as Dreger said, the Flyers would need to clear the cap space for that.
Jakub Voracek ($8.25 million) and James van Riemsdyk ($7 million) are the two big contracts on the trade block. They would have to move at least one of them if they want to land Hamilton. Fletcher will need to get very creative, especially given the price teams are asking to take on larger contracts.
Still, if the Flyers can find a way to land Hamilton, they have to do it. A top-four defense of Ivan Provorov, Dougie Hamilton, Travis Sanheim, and Ryan Ellis would be one of the best defensive corps in the league. A shutdown defense like that would be a huge help to Carter Hart in net.
Flyers “have talked about” Sam Reinhart & Rasmus Ristolainen
Another area that the Flyers will look to improve is their center depth. With Nolan Patrick traded after not panning out, Morgan Frost‘s lack of experience, and Kevin Hayes‘ down year, the Flyers need another middle-six center.
The Flyers were listed as a potential landing spot for Jack Eichel last month, but that might have lost its legs. It would’ve been a huge move by Fletcher. But focusing on improving the team as a whole rather than trading for a superstar might be the better move anyway.
Buffalo has a few players that they are shopping this offseason. Eichel tops the list, with Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen as other names to watch.
The Flyers might be out on Eichel, which shifts the attention to Reinhart and Ristolainen.
“I think [Philadelphia] is not in on Eichel anymore, but I do think they have talked about Reinhart and [Ristolainen],” Elliotte Friedman said on The Instigators. “But now they’ve got [Ryan] Ellis, so I would think they’d be out on [Ristolainen].”
Reinhart and Ristolainen are popular targets around the league. Sabres GM Kevyn Adams is trying to take advantage of that.
Friedman “heard there’s a ton of interest” in Reinhart. “I’ve heard [the Sabres] are asking for a first-rounder and a prospect,” he continued.
Reinhart, 25, was the second overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. He hasn’t quite hit that ceiling, but he’s been a consistent contributor for the Sabres.
The restricted free agent has 294 points (134 goals, 160 assists) in 445 games over the past six seasons. That’s an 82-game average of 24.69 goals and 29.48 assists for 55 points. He impressed this past season with 40 points (25 goals, 15 assists) in 54 games for a Sabres team that finished last in the NHL.
Adding Reinhart would give the Flyers some much-needed center depth. It would likely cost the Flyers their first-round pick and a prospect –– possibly Morgan Frost –– as a starting point for Reinhart. Perhaps the Flyers could get Ristolainen as well if they give back some salary (JVR?) in the deal.
Ristolainen, 26, is a bottom-four right defenseman. He’s big (6-foot-4, 218 lbs) and hits, but that’s about it. He might be a serviceable partner for Travis Sanheim, but there are better options out there. The tall defenseman has a cap hit of $5.4 million and is a free agent next summer.
Photo: Heather Barry Images
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