With just one day until the Flyers drop the puck for the first time in the 2018-19 season, now is a good time to look back at the moves Ron Hextall and the Flyers’ management made during the offseason, and analyze how they impacted the team.
The Flyers started off the offseason strong by making eight picks in the draft, including two first round picks. At 14th overall, the Flyers selected Joel Farabee, a left winger with a heavy shot, and at 19th overall, the Flyers picked Jay O’Brien, a center Hextall praised for his keen hockey sense. The Flyers made six selections after the first round and added to their prospect pool of defensemen with Adam Ginning, Jack St. Ivany, and Wyatte Wylie.
Shortly after the draft, the Flyers announced their first re-signing of the offseason, inking Samuel Morin to a three-year deal worth $2.1 million. Although Morin is injured currently, this contract gives him plenty of time to get healthy, so he can try and earn himself a spot with the big club in coming years. Later in the summer, the Flyers also re-signed restricted free agents Alex Lyon, Reece Willcox, Danick Martel, Tyrell Goulbourne, and Anthony Stolarz for the Phantoms. As far as roster players go, the Flyers only had to re-sign Robert Hagg, who agreed to a two-year contract worth $2.3 million.
Soon after the first signing of the offseason came free agent day. The Flyers did some addition by subtraction, announcing they would not re-sign Valtteri Filppula, Matt Read, Petr Mrazek, and Johnny Oduya. Many fans thought that would be the end of the Flyers’ free agent excitement since Ron Hextall is not known to make big splashes. In a move that nobody could have predicted, Hextall brought back the Flyers’ 2007 second overall pick, James van Riemsdyk. JVR signed a five-year deal worth $35 million, averaging $7 million against the cap each year. This move bolstered the Flyers’ core of forwards, making their top six a legitimate scoring threat on every line. Having scored 36 goals last season, JVR has the chance to potentially pot even more playing on a line with the likes of Sean Couturier or Nolan Patrick.
After the Flyers’ only major signing of free agent season, the dog days of the offseason began, and there wasn’t much to talk about until training camp started up in early September. Training camp came and went, and really the only things worth noting were injuries. It was announced that both Michal Neuvirth and Alex Lyon were injured during camp and wouldn’t be available to play for some time. To many Flyers fans’ dismay, the only rookie to make the team was Mikhail Vorobyev, who pretty much secured the 3C spot for himself. However, with Vorobyev being the only rookie to make the team, that means prospects Philippe Myers, Morgan Frost, and Carter Hart did not make the team, and were sent back to their junior organizations or the Phantoms. In addition to those three players being sent down, it looks like two more players will be joining them. On Tuesday, both Dale Weise and Taylor Leier were put on waivers and cleared, which most likely means that both will be playing for the Phantoms for at least part of the 2018-19 season. Finally, in what seems like their last move of the offseason, the Flyers claimed a player off the waiver wire. Goalie Calvin Pickard was waived by the Toronto Maple Leafs yesterday and, with Michal Neuvirth on IR due to the injury he suffered in training camp, Pickard seems like a good fit for a backup goalie role for the 2018-19 season.
After what seemed like an eternity of an offseason, Ron Hextall and his management team have instilled confidence in Flyers fans by making several moves that prove that the Flyers are finally moving into a competitive state as a team.
Noah is a lifelong Flyers fan who loves the sport of hockey almost as much as the orange and black. He is currently studying journalism and media studies at West Chester University.