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Offseason Over? How Flyers Compare to Metropolitan Division Rivals

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Garnet Hathaway agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Flyers on July 1. (Photo: AP)

Because of their dire salary cap situation, it’s been a more milquetoast offseason for the Philadelphia Flyers than usual.

By comparison, some Metropolitan Division rivals have really loaded up their rosters in preparation for a much-improved 2024-25 campaign, while other teams, like the Flyers, have stayed stagnant.

Now that the dust has settled on the first week of the NHL offseason, how do the Flyers stack up against their closest enemies?

Let’s start with what went down in Philadelphia, then work our way around the division.

The Flyers’ biggest addition of the offseason was, far and away, the arrival of Matvei Michkov, the 19-year-old Russian phenom drafted seventh overall in the 2023 NHL Draft. Michkov wasn’t expected to arrive on Broad Street until 2026, but rumors out of Russia opened up the possibility that touching down in Philadelphia could happen sooner.

The Flyers, SKA St. Petersburg, and other parties involved kept a tight lid on things until we ended up where we are today–just a few days removed from Michkov signing his entry-level contract.

Michkov, as young and inexperienced at the NHL level as he is, figures to be the most impactful offseason move the Flyers made. Other transactions include the re-signings of young winger Bobby Brink and blossoming defenseman Egor Zamula, as well as the return of veteran rearguard Erik Johnson.

The organization also brought back Adam Ginning and extended Garnet Hathaway, though Hathaway was already under contract for this season and Ginning figures to start the season in the AHL, barring something unforeseen.

The expectation is that Brink and Zamula will take more steps forward and assume regular roles in the NHL lineup, while Johnson, the elder statesman, will rotate in as needed.

With the exception of Michkov, the Flyers are returning a lineup that is virtually unchanged from the conclusion of the 2023-24 season.

Metropolitan Division

No team in the NHL might be more improved this offseason than the New Jersey Devils.

The Devils, a team that was expected to compete for the Stanley Cup last season but failed epically, addressed every single one of their needs in a matter of weeks. Yes, all of them.

Star goaltender Jacob Markstrom will put the team at ease between the pipes, while veteran forwards Stefan Noesen and Tomas Tatar return to Newark for their second stints, providing experience and depth in order to fill out the top-nine.

Rugged blueliners Brenden Dillon and Brett Pesce will serve as complimentary pieces to the Devils’ two young stars on the back end, Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec. From there, Johnathan Kovacevic and Nick DeSimone will duke it out for the No. 7 defenseman roster spot.

Lastly, speedster Paul Cotter will replace Alex Holtz, the former sharp-shooting top draft pick who was buried in New Jersey’s bottom-six for aeternitas.

Once the Devils manage to re-sign youngster Dawson Mercer, their offseason business will be complete. On paper, this will probably the best team the Devils have iced in two decades.

The phone lines were buzzing down in Washington D.C., as well, as the Washington Capitals swung numerous trades this offseason in a desperate effort to remain competitive and extend the shelf life of aging superstar Alex Ovechkin.

Swapping Darcy Kuemper for Pierre-Luc Dubois was the biggest move of them all, but the additions of players like Andrew Mangiapane, Brandon Duhaime, Logan Thompson, and Taylor Raddysh cannot go unnoticed, either.

Oh, and the Capitals traded for that Jakob Chychrun guy.

How well Washington performs this season truly depends on Ovechkin, but the good news for them is that this is the most complete supporting cast Ovechkin has had in three years or better.

The Carolina Hurricanes lost more players than anything, but Eric Tulsky did manage to acquire a few analytics darlings and some depth in his short time as an NHL general manager. That most notably includes former Flyers defensemen Sean Walker and Shayne Gostisbehere, but Jack Roslovic and William Carrier are notable signings, too.

Standout forwards Jack Drury, Martin Necas, and Seth Jarvis all remain unsigned restricted free agents, and Tulsky is going to need to find a way to fix that with under $12 million in cap space to work with.

Up in the Big Apple, the New York Rangers have achieved close to nothing this offseason.

Disgruntled captain Jacob Trouba still remains on the roster, while the Rangers’ only additions to the squad come in the form of Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Casey Fitzgerald, and Sam Carrick. Barclay Goodrow was dubiously jettisoned to San Jose, but the Rangers have done nothing with the cap space they cleared up by doing so aside from throwing a dart at Reilly Smith.

Oh, and Ryan Lindgren and Braden Schneider, two of their top defensemen, are restricted free agents. Did Chris Drury forget to set an alarm for July 1?

Unsurprisingly, the Columbus Blue Jackets haven’t been very active this offseason, but they need to quickly tie up some loose ends.

For starters, the Blue Jackets have only five NHL defensemen contracted for the 2024-25 season, unless the plan is to finally integrate top prospect David Jiricek into the lineup. Blossoming forwards Kirill Marchenko, Cole Sillinger, and Kent Johnson all need new contracts, too.

Oh, and they don’t even have a head coach yet.

The New York Islanders, too, have had a mediocre offseason, though getting Anthony Duclair at a $3.5 million cap hit was a shrewd piece of business.

Ruslan Iskhakov is bailing for the KHL, Oliver Wahlstrom has elected arbitration, and Simon Holmstrom awaits a new contract; all three players are 24 years old are younger.

Aside from signing KHL standout Maxim Tsyplakov, that’s about it. The Lou Lamoriello way.

Lastly and certainly least, the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Sebastian Aho this offseason. Just not the one you’re thinking of.

Sidney Crosby is supposedly going to extend his contract in the coming weeks or days, and he probably made up his mind as soon as he found out former Flyers forward Kevin Hayes was coming to town.

Anthony Beauvillier, Blake Lizotte, and Matt Grzelcyk are fine depth additions, but the Penguins’ core of grey hairs remains mostly intact, with the exception of Jake Guentzel. And they traded Reilly Smith away to the Rangers for draft picks and not a player(s).

All of that said, the Flyers should fall somewhere in the middle of the Metropolitan Division as long as some things go their way. The two biggest worries are how Sam Ersson and Ivan Fedotov hold up as a tandem, and if the Flyers remain a below-average offensive team.

Michkov is going to help, but can he elevate the Flyers from 26th in the league in goals to 16th or 17th?

The Flyers should be able to out-perform the Penguins, the Islanders, and the Blue Jackets, but nothing is guaranteed in this division. Far from it.

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BIG88

I was thinking rangers were making room for Kadri possibly . Kreider and panarin and zibinijad age will be a problem soon , 2 years ?

New Jersey is going to be dangerous in future

I’m not loving what Carolina did at all

pens are an old age home

Washington as far as cup is done. Give ovie some players to break the record . Luc Dubois is perfect . He’s what u don’t want for playoffs but has skill

Romus

Danny needs to get some cap space….and the guy that could be moved to do just that is Risto.
Looking at the teams and their cap space and draft capital…..five clubs pop out…Flames, Red Wings, Kraken, Canadiens and Hurricanes.
All have enough cap space to take on at least 50% of Risto’s contract without hamstringing them.
Plus with the Flyers taking on 50% of his remaining contract gives them almost $3M more in wiggle room.
As for return….never going to get a first rounder like Fletch gave up to the Sabres in July 2021…but maybe a pick in the 2nd round.
Would then give the Flyers the opportunity to draft 7 picks of the first 64 selections in 2025’s draft…..supposedly a deep draft…we shall see.

Last edited 4 days ago by Romus

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