Philadelphia Flying High
The Philadelphia Flyers have made some moves this off-season to put their franchise in a better position long-term. Below, we look at some of the sound moves that they’ve made thus far.
Trading Nicklas Grossmann for Sam Gagner
Grossman was heading into the last year on his contract that counts as $3 million against the cap. For the Flyers to move the heavy defender and actually bring back a player who could compete for a spot (Gagner) was impressive. Grossmann was part of the crowded Flyers blue line that was immobile. With him gone the depth chart opens up for some younger, faster legs to grab a spot.
There was talk that the Flyers would buy out Gagner to open up a little more cap space, but they were wise not too. Gagner wasn’t great in Arizona, but with a team that has a bunch of high-end offensive talent and a need for speed, Gagner can prove that he is worth his contract. Gagner has produced at least 40 points in six of his eight seasons.
(The Flyers also sent Chris Pronger to Arizona in this deal, but Pronger will no longer play in the league.)
Trading Zac Rinaldo
Rinaldo gave everything for this team, and no one can take that away from him. It just seemed that the Flyers couldn’t afford a player whose game was based around grit. The Flyers ended up moving the winger for a third round pick in 2017, which is an incredible return in my opinion. His cap hit wasn’t to heavy at 850,000 per year, running through this season and the next, but still teams will take any cap space they can get. Rinaldo became a movable piece when Ryan White started to emerge for the Flyers last season. In the end the Flyers cleared some cap space, gained a valuable draft pick, and made some more room for a younger player to make the team.
Below is a video that I feel embodies his energetic style.
Signing Michael Del Zotto
Del Zotto was arguably the Flyers best defender last year, posting 32 points and averaging 21:55 through 64 games last season; so it’s no shock that the team stepped up to pay the 25-year-old. I do think that a contract that carries a cap hit of 3.8 million over the next two-years is a bit rich, but there is no argument that he was by far the best Flyers defender during the second half of last year, and guys who fill that void tend to get paid. Del Zotto isn’t great in his own end, but his young legs are part of what Philadelphia is trying to do with this defense, which is make it mobile.
Hiring Dave Hakstol
Hakstol is jumping right from coaching North Dakota in the NCAA to coaching an NHL club. He was a successful coach in the NCAA with a record of 289-143-43, so it’s clear that he knows what he’s doing. Frankly, it seemed that the Flyers had to move on from Craig Berube one way or another, the team was losing, and veterans like Vincent Lecavalier were visibly angry with the coach. With a new coach and a new attitude, everyone will have a clean slate.
I doubt that the Flyers will make any more moves, as they only have $583,333 in cap space left according to Sportac.com. Still I think this team was wise to keep Del Zotto, who seemed to find his game with them. They had a good Draft by grabbing Ivan Provorov and signing Evgeny Medvedev was a good chance to take. I’m not sure what to make of the coaching change just yet, but I do think it’s a little risky to hire a guy with no NHL experience to run your club; still I applaud them for going outside the box.
I see this team pushing for the playoffs this year, they have the offensive weapons, and the new voice in the locker room should help. Still the Flyers have a long climb as they will be in a very tough Metropolitan Division.