The team still needs a third-line right winger and a backup goalie.
The Flyers also must sign five key restricted free agents — Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Travis Sanheim, Scott Laughton, and Ryan Hartman — before it knows how much cap space it has available. That will determine if general manager Chuck Fletcher has enough money to sign a strong third-line right winger who is an unrestricted free agent, such as Gustav Nyquist, Brett Connelly, or Justin Williams. It will also determine whom he can sign at the important backup-goalie spot.
The Flyers have $60.1 million committed to just 16 players, and the cap is expected to be around $82 million, or perhaps a bit lower. That would leave the Flyers with about $21.9 million in cap space.
Here is how the Flyers could look:
Top line: Sean Couturier centering Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny.
Comment: This is a solid group. The players combined for 79 goals, 210 points, and a plus-7 rating last season.
Second line: Kevin Hayes centering James van Riemsdyk and Jake Voracek.
Comment: The smooth-skating, 6-foot-5, 216-pound Hayes (19 goals, 54 points) is a big upgrade over Nolan Patrick, who will slide down to the No. 3 center role. Van Riemsdyk (27 goals) and Voracek (66 points), who needs to improve his defense, give Hayes two strong wingers who will benefit from the center’s sometimes-uncanny passing ability.
Third line: Patrick centering Oskar Lindblom and a still-to-be-determined right winger.
Comment: Maybe highly touted center Morgan Frost moves to right wing and wows the brass during training camp and earns the spot. In a best-case scenario, Frost gets to spend some valuable time with the AHL’s Phantoms and the Flyers have enough money to sign a player such as Nyquist (22 goals, 60 points), Connelly (22 goals, 46 points), or the ageless Williams (23 goals, 53 points). Veteran UFAs Wayne Simmonds and Corey Perry might interest the Flyers if the price is right.
Fourth line: Scott Laughton centering Michael Raffl and Ryan Hartman.
Comment: Laughton could slide to wing on the third line, but the Flyers are much stronger if he centers this gritty, hardworking fourth line, one that has the potential to produce a combined 35 goals and play solid defense.
Extra: Phil Varone, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, is among the candidates.
Top pairing: Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen or Justin Braun.
Comment: Provorov is coming off a disappointing season, but the hope is that Braun or Niskanen, veterans who shoot right-handed, will help stabilize his game.
Second pairing: Travis Sanheim and Niskanen or Braun.
Comment: Sanheim was arguably the Flyers’ best defenseman in the second half of last season, and having a dependable veteran by his side could help his play continue to skyrocket.
Third pairing: Shayne Gostisbehere and Phil Myers.
Comment: Gostisbehere’s name will be bandied about in trade talks at this weekend’s draft in Vancouver, but it would take a lot for the Flyers to part with him. History says he will bounce back from a poor season. As for the right-handed Myers, he is ready to blossom.
Extra D men: Barring a deal, Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin look like the extras. That could change, of course, with strong training camps.
No. 1 goalie: Carter Hart.
Comment: He scratched his potential during an impressive rookie season, and it looks as if the Flyers have found their goalie for the next decade-plus.
Backup goalie: To be determined.