It’s been another quiet summer of moves for Flyers General Manager Ron Hextall.
Instead of swinging for the fences, for the second straight year he has settled for a bunch of singles as he continues to build the team into a Stanley Cup contender with patience and from players within the organization. He avoided going for the major splash in free agency and instead either retained or added smaller pieces to the puzzle.
With the offseason essentially over, lets assess his key moves that will shape the roster this year and beyond.
Picks at the NHL Draft – Hextall selected Russian German Rubstov, a two-way center who could develop into Sean Couturier 2.0, in the first round. Then, they grabbed center Pascal Laberge at No. 36, goalie Carter Hart at 48 and right-wing Wade Allison at 52. All four players were ranked higher in Central Scouting’s rankings than where they were picked and many NHL scouts praised the organization’s draft overall.
The RJ Umberger buyout – The Flyers bought out the final year of the disappointing forward’s contract that will save them nearly $3 million in cap space in each of the next two years.
Signed Brayden Schenn to a four-year contract – He almost landed in the questionable bucket due to the length of years and annual cap hit of $5.1 million. However, if Schenn plays like he did over the final four months of last year and develops into a perennial 25-30 goal scorer, it will be looked back on as a quality deal.
Signed Dale Weiss to a four-year contract – The biggest free agent signing by Hextall, Weiss is an upgrade to the fourth line. The 27 year old is physical, strong defensively and will add a touch of needed offense following a 14-goal season with the Montreal.
Signed Brandon Manning to a two-year contract - For the second straight year, the 26 year old will probably serve as the sixth or seventh defenseman. He played in a career-high 56 games last season.
Signed TJ Brennan to a two-year, two-way contract – The Willingboro, NJ, native and defenseman returns to play for his favorite team growing up but will likely start the year with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Still, the AHL veteran could be a reliable call-up if there is an injury on the Flyers blueline.
Signed Radko Gudas to a four-year contract – This deal, for $13.4 million, could come back to bite Hextall. Although he is just 26 and played well in the second half last year, Gudas doesn’t have a high ceiling and could turn into a road block for one of the many defensive prospects waiting in the wings.