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3 Buy-Low Flyers Free Agent Targets for Day 1 of NHL Free Agency



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(Photo: AP)

The Philadelphia Flyers, by self-admission, are not going to be major players in the 2024 NHL free agency period, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to make upgrades to the team and add upside to their system.

In fact, there’s actually a bevy of players available this year who would allow the Flyers to do that, and that isn’t all that common.

Let’s start at the right wing position, where the Flyers are already deep but could always use more talent.

No. 3: Alexander Nylander, RW, Columbus Blue Jackets (UFA, No QO)

I was a bit surprised when I found out that Alexander Nylander was not going to receive a qualifying offer from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The younger brother of William, Alexander was the 8th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft but has yet to make a true impact at the NHL level.

Nylander, now 26, has bounced between the Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, and Penguins organizations, giving him three new teams in as many years. Nylander scored 82 points across his last 93 AHL games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins before shining like a star in an end-of-season cameo with Columbus.

The Swede ripped off 11 goals, four assists, and 15 points across 23 NHL games with Columbus last season, finally showcasing some of that potential. Defensive involvement and effort have long been question marks for Nylander, but if anyone can marry that with the skills he was blessed with, it’s John Tortorella and the Flyers.

No. 2: Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Seattle Kraken (UFA, No QO)

Continuing the theme of skilled right wings here, Kailer Yamamoto didn’t really fit in with the Seattle Kraken this year, scoring just eight goals and 16 points in 59 contests. The Flyers did, however, recently buy out Cam Atkinson, getting away from that albatross contract. So, if the Flyers would like to replace Atkinson, they can do so with Yamamoto.

Yamamoto, 25, is a smaller guy like Atkinson, standing at just 5-foot-8. Yamamoto can play a bit of the penalty kill and has contributed to the power play in the past; in the 2021-22 season, Yamamoto scored 20 goals and 41 points as a member of the Edmonton Oilers.

The diminutive winger also threw 114 hits that season, so size and compete aren’t issues with Yamamoto.

Behind Matvei Michkov and Travis Konecny is Bobby Brink and Garnet Hathaway, and while Flyers general manager Danny Briere expects Brink to make the NHL roster again this year, he has to earn it. For Yamamoto, this could be a chance to compete for a roster spot and show NHL clubs he still has some of that magic from two years ago.

No. 1: Jake Bean, LHD, Columbus Blue Jackets, (UFA, No QO)

Two things are true about the 2023-24 Flyers: injuries destroyed their defense, and their power play was the worst in the league for the third year in a row. Defenseman Jake Bean could help them improve in both areas.

Bean, 26, was chosen 13th overall in 2016, only a few picks after Nylander. Bean, like Nylander, was struggled to make an impact at the NHL level and hasn’t received too much opportunity, either. While his underlying numbers were generally bad as a result of playing on an atrocious Columbus team, Bean excels at transporting the puck and defending the rush.

The 26-year-old brings prototypical size at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, and was once drafted with the expectation of being able to run an NHL power play; he was an excellent quarterback at the AHL level a few years back.

Bean’s qualifying offer was quite high, and maybe another NHL team with a greater need for a defenseman makes a play on him. But if not, Bean allows the Flyers to ease their reliance on Cam York and, to a lesser extent, Egor Zamula, as puck movers at both 5-on-5 and on special teams.

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