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Flyers’ Offseason Wish List: 4 Things They Need To Do



Flyers management team faces offseason of rebuilding,
Flyers management team at news conference at Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers’ offseason is more than a month old. Enough time to get past the residue from a difficult season. Enough time to get the juices flowing and think about next season.

Enough time to compose an offseason wish list for the Flyers.

After the upbeat news conference on Friday that ushered in the New Era of Orange, there is some rejuvenation among the fan base. Moves were made. Moves were explained. Keith Jones became the president of hockey operations. Daniel Brière was promoted to general manager.

The introductory news conference was aimed directly at the fans. We’re moving forward, we’re back, we’re collaborative, we’re rebuilding but we’re doing it the right way.

Rebuilding and rethinking are under way at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees. The Flyers finished seventh in the draft lottery. That means no shortcuts to the rebuild.

Here is our offseason wish list, as the Flyers sail into an offseason of uncertainty. When you’re the Bruins or Avalanche — despite the first-round playoff losses — you’re tweaking, sanding a rough edge or two.

The Flyers’ renovation is more extreme, with a serious look at which players to keep and which ones they can and should live without.

1. Move Kevin Hayes and James van Riemsdyk

Hayes played 81 games, scored 18 goals and 36 assists and was a minus-22 this season. A change of scenery would do well for him and the Flyers.

The Daily Faceoff says Hayes is No. 2 on its list of offseason trade targets. A Hayes trade might mean the Flyers have to eat some of his salary. It’s worth it.

JVR is an unrestricted free agent. He scored 12 goals in 71 games — only two on the power play, his speciality. JVR turned 34 on May 4. He likely will move on.

If the Flyers trade Hayes and allow JVR to walk, they show the fans and the remaining players the rebuild is serious … and under way.

These are obvious moves to make. The more difficult decisions are down the road with defensemen Ivan Provorov and Tony DeAngelo. Both are under contract but if the Flyers are looking to flip their roster, they could be trade candidates.

2. Sign the young guys

The Flyers, despite their recent troubles, have some pieces around which they can build. Noah Cates, Morgan Frost and Cam York are restricted free agents. Sign them. Reward them for good play during a challenging season.

In their breakup interviews, some players talked optimistically about the Flyers’ future. Some suggested they weren’t as far away from success as many believe.

Part of their faith was based on Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson returning from injuries and the potential of their young core. The Flyers need a good summer of workouts, good health and a renewed focus that next season is another good step forward.

3. Nail the draft

This draft might be the Flyers’ most important in memory. They have nine picks. It’s unrealistic to think each of the nine will become an NHL player, but the Flyers need a highly successful draft.

The Flyers’ seventh overall pick must be a impactful player — potentially a top-two defenseman or a top-line forward. Last year’s top pick, Cutter Gauthier, seems to have that kind of potential and put together a strong freshman season at Boston College.

He also has been one of the stars of Team USA at the world championships.

Another Gauthier — and what he projects to be — is what the Flyers desperately need from next month’s draft.

Mock drafts indicate a forward-heavy group in the top 10. Throughout, this draft class is reportedly a deep one, with potential stars available. The Flyers need a star in the first round and another one in later rounds. They need players who can not only make an NHL roster, but compete on one.

4. Patience, please

If you’re going to rebuild, rebuild. Treat future draft choices with same reverence as NFL teams. Excellent drafting is the quickest path to success.

Don’t go for a costly quick fix. In March 2002, the Flyers traded goalie Maxine Ouellet, plus first-, second- and third-round draft picks for veteran center Adam Oates. The Flyers were concerned about injuries to Keith Primeau and Jeremy Roenick and felt as if they needed another center going into the playoffs.

The Flyers paid a heavy price for that deal. Oates played 14 games for the Flyers. He scored three goals and seven assists. The Flyers lost to Ottawa in five games in the first round and only scored two goals in the entire series. Oates left for Anaheim in free agency that summer.

No shortcuts. No excuses.

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