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Flyers GM Daniel Brière Admits Team Will Not Be Active Players This Summer

(Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

If you’re expecting the Philadelphia Flyers to be active this off-season, you might be disappointed.

General manager Daniel Brière recently spoke with The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun and said that the Flyers will most likely stand pat during the free agent frenzy but will vigilant on the trade market should they come across a good hockey trade.

“It’s a little bit of a weird offseason for us,” said Brière. “We have a lot of dead money going into next year. Part of it is our fault. We did that to position ourselves better for the future. But it’s kind of tied our hands this summer as far as free agency goes.”

Brière isn’t wrong in his assessment either as the Flyers will be on the hook for $1.66 million for Tony DeAngelo‘s buyout, $3.57 million retention on Kevin Hayes‘ contract, and they have one year remaining on both Cal Petersen’s and Ryan Johansen‘s contracts at $5 million and $4 million, respectively.

The Flyers didn’t absentmindedly make these moves, as Brière pointed out it was to position themselves for the future. Getting rid of DeAngelo and Hayes were also hockey decisions to clear the air in the locker room, rid themselves of tension between players and coach, and free up room on the NHL roster for younger players.

The “future” that Brière is alluding to is perhaps the summer of 2025 when they have Travis Konecny, Tyson Foerster, Morgan Frost, and Cam York as the standout players that will need new contracts. Other players include Noah Cates, Garnet Hathaway, and Ronnie Attard.

According to CapFriendly, the Flyers are expected to have around $35 million in cap space next summer as that also includes the departures of Petersen, Johansen, and Cam Atkinson – unless they find a way to cut him loose in the next few months.

It’s also not the worst thing in the world that the Flyers won’t be big players this summer considering the lack of talent on the open market. The best and bigger names include Steven Stamkos, Jake Guentzel, and Sam Reinhart, but the latter two will most likely re-sign with their current clubs and the former doesn’t fit the Flyers’ needs or timeline. After that, there doesn’t seem to be too many intriguing options and the free agent market is as volatile as ever with players expected to receive astronomical pay raises with the salary cap increasing.

“I would say don’t expect much movement from us, as far as free agency,” Brière said. “But you know, we’re always open to hockey trades if there’s something that makes sense to help our team, both in the future but also in the short term if it fits our timeline.”

In terms of trades, the Flyers will assuredly be players but “hockey trades” are the only ones that Brière and company will be on the lookout for. There’s no reason for Philadelphia to be swinging for the fences if the asking price is a top prospect or a high-value draft pick, and there are plenty of one-for-one hockey trades that can be made with current roster players should they see a fit.

However, that more than likely rules out a trade for Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Nečas, considering the type of return that they would be expecting. Although he’s set to become a restricted free agent, the Hurricanes still control his signing rights, they possess a decent amount of cap space to bring him back if they can come to terms on his role, and there are reportedly more than a dozen teams that have called in.

The Flyers aren’t completely sitting back as they have called in on his availability but they’re just one of many teams that are interested. Another player they had interest in signing was defenseman Sean Walker. The Flyers held talks around a contract extension for most of the season this year but were unable to find common ground on term and salary before they decided to trade him to the highest bidder in Colorado ahead of the trade deadline.

They weren’t too far away but with the prospects of receiving a first round pick for a “throw in” in the Ivan Provorov trade, Brière felt like he had no choice but to make the deal – even if it included Johansen’s contract. They left on amicable terms and there was a small chance that they could turn back the clock this summer but that might have been dashed with some of the comments Brière made to LeBrun:

“Yeah, because of the cap, because of the guys we have to try and re-sign, it makes it tough,” Brière said. “Obviously we think very highly of him.

“It hurt losing him down the stretch, there’s no doubt about that. But where we’re at — how we’re positioned with our cap situation — it kind of makes it tough where we realize he’s going to command probably more money than we have available this summer.”

Walker had a standout beginning to his 2023-24 season, so much so that it boosted his trade value to a first round pick. However, once he arrived in Colorado, his role immediately diminished and his play took a turn. Playing primarily on the third pairing, Walker wasn’t able to help the Avalanche all that much as he collected 7 points in 18 regular season games before going without a point in 11 postseason contests and held a -5 rating.

One thing that Brière and the Flyers will be aggressively pursuing this summer is an extension for Konecny. We’ve all heard by now the initial reports that his agent is starting with a $10 million per season asking price, but that’s just part of the dance. If they come to terms on a deal this summer, it will more than likely be the 8-year maximum and cap hit in the neighbourhood of $8.5 million to $9 million – similar to the deal Timo Meier received from the New Jersey Devils.

It is an absolutely crucial decision to make considering the length of the contract, the supposed AAV, and the rebuild the Flyers are currently embarking on. Konecny will be 29 years old in 2025 and if he receives the maximum 8-year deal, that would take him through the age of 37.

However, he’s the engine of the team, he’s their best player, he can play all situations, and has turned into a terrific 2-way player under John Tortorella. With 64 goals and 129 points in 136 games over his last two seasons, they would be hard pressed not to bring him back. The talent in their pipeline took a massive hit with the departure of Cutter Gauthier and some of the players currently on the roster not named Konecny have not played at a consistent enough level to help make the decision any easier for the front office.

Brière didn’t add to much detail in his response about Konecny other than the fact that they will keep contract negotiations as private as possible.

“One thing is, we’re not going to negotiate through the media, and we agreed with his group that we wouldn’t do that,” Brière said. “The one thing I can tell you is that we love him. We love him as a player. He knows that. His agency knows that. He’s an important part of our team.

“And we hope that we have Travis Konecny with the Flyers for a very long time. But we’ll see what happens in the future with that.”

He finished off by discussing the possibility of Matvei Michkov making his NHL debut this season. X (Twitter) went up in flames when news and rumours started to leak out of Russia that they might allow Michkov to join the Flyers two years sooner than expected. There are several speed bumps along the way but there seems to be a general understanding between player, SKA St. Petersburg, and the Flyers.

Philadelphia can’t do much when it comes to the contract termination since that has to be orchestrated between the player and his KHL team, but it was also reported that should they keep Michkov in Russia this season, all signs point to him arriving one year earlier than expected in 2025. For the time being, we wait anxiously for SKA St. Petersburg to make their decision.

“We follow what’s going on through the media mostly,” Brière said. “There’s some ups and downs there, back and forth, it seems. It just seems to change on a daily basis. We’re hopeful. But at the same time, when we drafted him, we knew it would be three years.

“That’s kind of what I keep in the back of my mind. He’s going to be away for three years before he can come over. If things change, I’ll be ecstatic and we’d be really excited to welcome him. But I’m not trying to get caught up in the excitement of it for now. If it happens, it happens. We don’t have any news at this moment as far as how reliable the sources are that are popping over the internet.”

While the Flyers might not be active this summer, I don’t think many of us expected them to be busy in the first place. According to CapFriendly, the Flyers sit atop the NHL with the highest projected cap hit and subsequently the lowest projected cap space. They do have the option to place Ryan Ellis on LTIR but that doesn’t leave them with much leeway to make further moves.

The rebuild will be heading into its second season and all signs point to the fact that the Flyers will stay the course. They have the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft as well as the either 31st or 32nd pick that originally belonged to the Florida Panthers. They might also be carrying two second round picks should Columbus decide to defer their pick this year.

It won’t be a completely boring, mundane, or quiet offseason, but it’ll be more of the same in terms of depth acquisitions and looking for players that fit the bill. The real test is the summer of 2025 when they have a slew of players they need to extend.

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