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Carchidi: What is Flyers GM’s Biggest Off-Season Need? Read on

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Elias Lindholm, Philadelphia Flyers
Should the Flyers roll the dice on unrestricted free agent Elias Lindholm? The timing may be right for such a move. Photo: Associated Press.

Danny Briere will address the media late Friday morning and will undoubtedly be asked about his off-season plans.

Will the Philadelphia Flyers’ general manager maneuver around his salary-cap limitations and go after a big-name free agent?

Will he make a trade for a true No. 1 defenseman, or perhaps bring back Sean Walker — who is solid on the second pairing — as a free agent?

Will he not make any major moves, figuring many of his young players will keep improving and put the 2024-25 Flyers into the playoffs for the first time in five years?

Questions, questions, questions.

Glaring need

From here, the Flyers’ biggest need is getting a No. 1 center. Maybe Briere rolls the dice on intriguing free agent Elias Lindholm?

The timing might be right.

Lindholm’s production has dropped significantly in the last two seasons, especially during his time this year with the Vancouver Canucks. That could be good for the Flyers because his salary demands should be much lower. He had a $4.85 million cap hit this season.

The 6-foot-1, 202-pound Swede is 29, and scored 42 goals for Calgary in 2021-22. Maybe a change of scenery will revive his career the way it did for Sam Reinhart when he left Buffalo and thrived in Florida? Reinhart usually scored goals in the low 20s with Buffalo, but in his three seasons with Florida, he has netted 33, 31 and 57 goals, respectively.

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The Flyers were weak down the middle this season. Their four primary centers — Sean Couturier, Morgan Frost, Ryan Poehling, and Scott Laughton — combined for 48 goals. By comparison, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ top four centers combined for 122 goals.

Lindholm, a two-way player who is used in all situations, would also jump-start a Flyers power play that has finished last in the NHL in each of the last three seasons.

Briere may address the dysfunctional power-play situation Friday, or maybe he will wait before announcing whether Rocky Thompson will relinquish his duties as the PP coach.

Numbing numbers

The Philadelphia Flyers’ power play clicked at a miserable 12.2 percent this season and finished the year 0 for 23 in their last nine games. They had problems with entries, never got into a rhythm, and shot too much from long range.

If their power-play had just clicked at a below-average 18 percent this season, the Flyers would probably be preparing to play the New York Rangers in the opening round of the playoffs. Heck, if their power play would have just been mediocre during their late-season, eight-game losing streak, they might be getting ready for the playoffs. (The Flyers were 2 for 23  during their skid, or 8.7 percent.)

Even with the power play faltering, the Flyers managed to stay in the playoff race until the final game of the season.

“It’s actually impressive what we did all year, (considering) our power play the way it was,” Laughton said the other day.

Besides a new scheme, the Flyers need more finishers on their power play. Unless a minor miracle happens, dynamic forward Matvei Michkov won’t be in Philadelphia until 2026-27.  Briere has lots of needs to fill before then. Finding a center who gives them size and scoring on the top line — and improves their power play — should be the No. 1 priority.

Sam Carchidi writes a weekly column for Philly Hockey Now. He and Jeff Hare are working on a TV series on the Flyers’ glory days, tentatively called “Bullies.” Carchidi can be reached at samcarchidi55@gmail.com.

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