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Should Flyers Pursue Big-Name Free Agents? Would Any Be Interested?

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Vladimir Tarasenko vs. Flyers (AP photo)
Vladimir Tarasenko vs. Flyers' Patrick Brown. (AP photo)

There still are good free agents on the market, if the Philadelphia Flyers are so inclined.

And for the free agents, there are good teams on the market.

This might be wrong place, wrong time for the Philadelphia Flyers. They are rebuilding, not looking for that one, over-the-top piece.

And that’s the problem … and it’s a huge one. Why would any of these big-time players come to a rebuilding Flyers team? Remember, general manager Daniel Briere sounded stunned when Marc Staal, 36, wanted to come to the Flyers. Philadelphia always has been an appealing hockey destination. Recent results have diminished that luster.

But there are juicy names out there — Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrick Kane, Matt Dumba, Jonathan Toews, and others. Big names, guys with some gas still in the tank. Some Stanley Cup champions.

Kane and Toews each won three Stanley Cups in Chicago. Toews was the Blackhawks’ leader. Kane, who is recovering from hip surgery, was the big scorer, the guy who scored often and at huge moments. These guys are legends in Chicagoland.

Tarasenko, a Russian, would provide the Flyers an immediate boost on the ice, and a future benefit with a Russian draft pick (or two) coming to Philadelphia in the next year or two. Hi, Matvei, this is Vlad.

Tarasenko makes sense unless you’re Tarasenko. He’s 31 with a hefty resume that includes a Stanley Cup in St. Louis in 2019. This is his first crack at free agency. He’s looking for a payday and he already indicated he wants to play for a contender. He just switched agents this week.

The salary cap would be another issue.

Toews, Kane, Tarasenko and Dumba are pie in the sky and not the reality in which the Flyers live right now. Rebuilds are painful, but missing the playoffs four out of five seasons are, too.

This is the Flyers’ situation. They want to get better but there are limitations.

Briere Trying To Deal

Briere said the Flyers called around when free agency began July 1. He made calls and received calls. Nothing made sense to him.

“You see some of the names that come your way, and then you start thinking it’s really easy to get excited about adding them to your lineup,” Brière said.

“I’m not gonna lie about that. But, again, restraint was the key for us. We’re just not in that position at this point.”

Briere is committed to rebuilding the Flyers and his path is clear. He wants reasonable free-agent acquisitions. He wants draft assets. This season, he drafted 10 players and he has two first-round picks again next season.

The Flyers have the third-best prospects pool, according to Hockey Prospecting. Flyers management seems happy with the current draft class that includes potential star Matvei Michkov.

The Flyers signed five free agents last week. They signed players with value but not any blockbusters — Staal, Ryan Poehling, Garnet Hathaway, Rhett Gardner and Victor Mete.

Staal was playing top-four minutes on the Panthers’ Stanley Cup finalist team. He could be valuable in-season to help the defense and work with the younger players. He also could be valuable at the trade deadline for a team that needs another defenseman.

“If there’s something there that he feels that he has enough in the tank, and we’re not making the playoffs, and he would like to go somewhere else to make another Cup run, we will try to accommodate him,” Brière said about Staal.

“If he wants to stay here, no matter where we’re at, we’re also gonna accommodate him.

“I think he’s earned that right to decide, so I will follow his lead on that.”

Teams apparently have kicked the tires on Flyers forward Scott Laughton. Philadelphia reportedly turned down multiple first-round picks for Laughton, who isn’t the Flyers’ captain but he might as well be.

With any team, leadership is critical, but especially a young team trying to develop a winning culture. I think that’s why Laughton still is with the Flyers — his leadership skills. Toews would be nice to have, but they have Laughton serving the same leadership purpose.

“Usually in free agency, for the most part, you’re usually adding older players,” Briere said. “Maybe one day we’ll be there.”

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