For the second straight year, the Flyers were rather quiet on July 1, which was the first day teams could sign free agents. While the rest of the NHL went on a spending spree – more than 60 players were signed in the opening hours – Philly's lone pickup was back-up goalie Michal Neuvirth, who signed a two-year $3.25 million deal.
It was similar to last season, when their only move was re-signing back-up goalie Ray Emery.
General Manager Ron Hextall would have liked to upgrade in other areas but due to salary cap restrictions didn’t have the financial wiggle room. However, he didn’t seem to mind mostly sitting out the frenzy again.
“Quite frankly, I hope most years are like this year when you’re looking for one piece or two pieces,” Hextall said. “I don’t like going into free agency needing three or four bodies and you kind of end up blowing your brains out there. We feel like we got a real good fit for our team, and we like our team here.”
The problem is it looks a lot like the one from last year. You know, the same squad that finished with the seventh-worst record in the league and missed the playoffs.
Outside of Neuvirth, the Flyers added forward Sam Gagner in a trade with the Coyotes – for Nick Grossmann and Chris Pronger’s contract – after the NHL draft and inked Russian defenseman Evgeny Medvedev last month. They also re-upped with Chris VandeVelde and Ryan White.
And there’s a good chance they are done making changes except for re-signing defenseman Michael Del Zotto.
“We’ll listen to anything that’s out there and if we can figure a way to get better we’ll try to do it,” Hextall said. “But we (don’t) have the flexibility to go after a big guy.”
The Flyers are about $4 million under the salary cap. Once they come to terms with Del Zotto, it would likely leave them with about $1-2 million. They would not be able to take on another big salary without shedding one of their own.
Hextall is open to making a deal, especially trading one or two players from his deep pool of veteran defensemen, but he’s not sure how anything will shake out.
“I have no idea if we are done (trading players),” Hextall said. “It’s hard to even speculate. Suddenly you think you’ve got nothing going on and a day later you have something going on … I’m comfortable with where we’re at now, but we’ll continue to try to do anything we can to make our team better.”