Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher seemed more upbeat than ever Tuesday when discussing the progress made by center Nolan Patrick, who missed the entire season because of a migraine disorder.
The Flyers are negotiating with Patrick’s agent; he is a prospective restricted free agent, and Fletcher would not comment on whether the negotiations were productive.
“Our focus with Nolan for the most part is making sure we’re all doing our best to get him healthy,” Fletcher said in a conference call with reporters. “He continues to feel better and better. I continue to feel optimistic that he will be a player for us next season. We’ll get to all other [contract] issues at the right time.”
The Flyers’ potential restricted free agents as of Oct. 9 are Patrick and Phil Myers, while Tyler Pitlick, Derek Grant, Nate Thompson, Justin Braun, and Brian Elliott can become unrestricted free agents.
Fletcher has had preliminary discussions with the players’ agents.
“We’re still going through the process,” he said. “It’s been real busy few weeks here. Starting to get a feel for what’s available in the market in terms of trades. Starting to get a feel for what RFAs are looking for.”
Over the next week, Fletcher said, “we’ll start to address our own UFAs and see if there’s a fit.”
Of the unrestricted free agents, Elliott seems the most likely to return.
Shayne Gostisbehere, who is believed to be a valuable trade chip if the Flyers decide to move him, looked much better when the postseason began, displaying more “pop” in his game after two knee surgeries.
After Gostisbehere returned, Fletcher said he thought the defenseman skated better and was able to cut and turn quicker.
In 42 regular-season games, Gostisbehere had just five goals and 12 points. He had 13 goals and 65 points in 2017-18.
“I think it was a frustrating season and I don’t think physically he was at the level he wanted to be until the end of the year,” Fletcher said. “Shayne’s 27 years old. There’s not many 27-year-olds that have been in the league that have had 60-point seasons. Obviously, he hasn’t been at that level for a couple seasons. ... I know he’s looking forward to showing everybody he can get back to the player he was a few seasons ago.”
Fletcher danced around a question on whether the Flyers would have interest in signing free-agent Bobby Ryan, a Cherry Hill native.
“I can tell you I was in Anaheim when we drafted Bobby,” he said. “I’ve known him for a long time. He’s a tremendous person and has been a very good hockey player in this league. I think his recent [alcohol] battles have been well-documented, and clearly he’s worked hard to get himself to a better place. He deserves a tremendous amount of credit for that."