Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and now welcome to hockey purgatory. The commissioner might as well be Rod Serling, because no one has much of an idea when next season will start or what it might look like.

We do know two things. The draft will be next week, and Vegas has the Flyers as one of the Top 6 to win the 2021 Stanley Cup. While that seems a little ambitious, there is one other thing we’re sure of about the Flyers next season: They won’t settle for a tie with the Cincinnati Bengals.

You’re signed up to get this weekly newsletter during the Flyers offseason. If you like what you’re reading, tell some friends it’s free to sign up here. We want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send feedback by email or on Twitter (@broadstbull). Thank you for reading.

— Ed Barkowitz (flyers@inquirer.com)

Alex Lyon on 1-year deal: 'I’m happy to knock it out’

The uncertainty of the future already has had an effect on hockey free agency. At least for some players.

Third-string goalie Alex Lyon was to hit the unrestricted free-agent market for the first time in his life. He wasn’t going to command multimillion-dollar offers, but he could have gone to an organization that offered him a clearer path to at least becoming a No. 2 guy.

The graduate from Yale in political science instead played it safe and signed a one-year deal for $700,000. This, he figured, was not the time to dive into the waters of unrestricted free agency and start fresh with a new organization.

“Given the climate of things right now, I’m happy to knock it out,” Lyon said of his contract. “This was my first time ever being a UFA. The whole year I was thinking that I want to make the most of it and then the [spit] hit the fan and everything happened. I’m really glad I got it done early.”

The salary cap is remaining flat, and no one knows when next season will start or what it will look like. Bubbles, fan-less games, truncated schedules — and that’s just the NHL. Prohibiting or severely limiting crowds would cripple the AHL and ECHL.

Carter Hart is the obvious No. 1 goalie for the Flyers, with pending free agent Brian Elliott a valuable backup. If Elliott signs elsewhere, general manager Chuck Fletcher will have a decision to make on whether to bring in another goalie with more NHL experience than Lyon.

Lyon will turn 28 in December. He’s appeared in 16 games at the NHL level, starting 10 (5-4-1, .893 save pct.). He was one of seven players to accompany the Flyers to the playoff bubble in Toronto and not make it into a game. It was a mundane routine of practice-lifting-cardio-hotel for nearly two months. Lyon said it was forward Andy Andreoff who kept the group loose and focused.

“He’s been an NHL player for a long time [parts of five seasons],” Lyon said. “Just to have that level of maturity and wherewithal, it really went a long way.”

On the final day the Flyers were in Toronto, before they were eliminated by the Islanders that evening, coach Alain Vigneault saluted the taxi-squad players on all the teams because he knew how mentally challenging the confinement was.

“Those comments speak to how good of a coach he is and how well he understands the team,” Lyon said. “It goes a long way. A lot of times the Black Aces — us extra guys — are forgotten, which is probably how it should be. We don’t expect anything else. We’re there to do a job. But for him to go out of his way to say, ‘Nice job, keep it going,’ it really meant a lot to all of us.”

Things to know

Flyers defenseman Robert Hagg (8) defends against the Islanders" Matthew Barzal during the playoffs.
Frank Gunn / AP
Flyers defenseman Robert Hagg (8) defends against the Islanders" Matthew Barzal during the playoffs.

What are the odds?

This week’s odds to win the 2020-21 Stanley Cup from the folks at the Westgate Superbook in Vegas. All bets are action regardless of potentially shortened season, as long as the Cup is awarded. The Flyers are 8-1 to win the Eastern Conference.

7-1: Tampa Bay, Colorado, Vegas

12-1: Boston

16-1: Flyers, Washington

20-1: Dallas, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Toronto, Vancouver

25-1: Carolina, Edmonton, N.Y. Islanders, N.Y. Rangers

30-1: Calgary, Nashville

40-1: Arizona, Winnipeg

50-1: Columbus, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey

60-1: Montreal, San Jose

80-1: Anaheim, Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles

100-1: Ottawa

200-1: Detroit

Important dates

Tuesday, Oct. 6: Draft, Round 1, 7 p.m. Flyers have the 23rd overall pick.

Wednesday, Oct. 7: Draft, Rounds 2-7, 11:30 a.m. Flyers picks: 54, 116, 147, 178, 202, 209.

Friday, Oct. 9: Free agency, unrestricted and restricted, begins at 12 p.m.

TBA: Start of 2020-21 season. Possibly not until January.

From the mailbag

Question: Any chance the Flyers are interested in bringing Bobby Ryan back home? — Jack Andrews (@capjack2000)

Answer: It would be a terrific story, but I’d pass. The Flyers have $6.2 mil in cap space, according to CapFriendly.com, and still need to make deals with Phil Myers, Brian Elliott (or another veteran) and Justin Braun (or another veteran). I’d also like to see Tyler Pitlick back.

They also have to figure out what to do with Nolan Patrick — the most interesting offseason decision, if you ask me.

Ryan will be 34 in March, and I’d rather not clog up the bottom six with him at this point, unless he wanted to come in on a tryout contract.

Send questions by email or on Twitter (@broadstbull), and they could be answered in a future edition.