So the Philadelphia Flyers did sign a free-agent left winger Wednesday.
Just not the one the fans wanted.
They got a bruising 6-foot-3, 218-pound bottom-six player, Nic Deslauriers, instead of a top-line scoring machine named Johnny Gaudreau.
General manager Chuck Fletcher said the Flyers couldn’t sign Gaudreau because of their cap situation. He knew about their cap situation for more than a half year, so that’s on him.
With little cap room, the Flyers signed Deslauriers for four years, with an annual cap hit of $1.75 million. For that, they will get lots of entertaining fights, and a few goals here and there. He will make the Flyers “tougher to play against” — the team’s mantra this summer.
Deslauriers, 31, who had a combined eight goals for Anaheim and Minnesota last season, said he fits in well with the Flyers, claiming “every game against them was a physical one” in 2021-22. “It’s a blue-collar city. I’m excited.”
He said he will drop the gloves at the right times to try to change the momentum in games.
Fletcher said there was a “pretty aggressive market for players like him. Players like Nic Deslauriers are hard to find.”
So are players like the dynamic Gaudreau.
The general manager said Deslauriers brings a “physical presence,” is a good forechecker, and has “a pretty good understanding of the defensive side of the game. He can kill penalties, which we believe he’ll do for us.”
Added Fletcher: “With the number of young players that we expect to be on our roster next year, and in a division where there’s a lot of big, physical players, we thought Nic Deslauriers would help our group and bring an element we feel we need to allow the rest of our group to play to their capabilities.”
Translation: Deslauriers will open up space for his linemates.
But don’t expect him to revive a sad-sack offense that finished second-worst in the NHL last season.
As much as he tried, Fletcher wasn’t able to clear much cap space, so the Philadelphia Flyers signed bargain-basement players. And if they tank and finish at or near the bottom of the NHL standings, so be it.