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July 03, 2024

Former Flyers notes: Sean Walker, Cam Atkinson find new homes in free agency

Sean Walker is headed to Carolina, with Shayne Gostisbehere, and Cam Atkinson found a spot in Tampa Bay.

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Sean-Walker-Avs-Playoffs-NHL.jpg Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports

Sean Walker skates with the puck during the Colorado Avalanche's playoff run against the Dallas Stars. The Flyers dealt Walker to Colorado at the trade deadline, and now he's signed on with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Flyers kept pretty quiet when free agency opened on Monday, as expected – you know, aside from the major to-do of signing Matvei Michkov to his entry-level contract. 

The rest of the NHL though? The exact opposite. Teams were loud, to a record-setting degree even, spending over $1 billion combined in new contracts on Day 1 of the open market

Some former Flyers found their next homes in the process as a result. Here's a quick rundown...

Sean Walker

Walker signed a five-year, $18 million deal with the Carolina Hurricanes as part of their blue-line retool. He'll make $3.6 million per season through 2029.

Walker, 29, got to the Flyers as a throw-in from the L.A. Kings in the three-team Ivan Provorov trade from last summer, and he ended up as the best-performing roster player in that deal. 

Walker tallied six goals and 16 assists in 63 games as a Flyer this past season, carrying a plus-nine rating on a defensive pairing with Nick Seeler that, at one point, stood as one of the most dependable blue-line duos in the entire NHL. 

But Walker, on an expiring contract, was always an obvious trade target, and approaching the deadline in March, the Flyers had to make a decision between either him or Seeler. 

They chose Seeler on a four-year, $10.8 million extension ($2.7 million annually), and dealt Walker to a contender in Colorado for a 2025 first-rounder – that the Flyers now have three of, in what's projected to be a stacked draft. 

Walker stayed steady through the remainder of the regular season with the Avs, but couldn't maintain quite the same success in the playoffs, going minus-five with no points until Colorado was eventually eliminated in the second round by the Dallas Stars in six games. 

Still, Walker can slot nicely into Carolina's middle defensive pairing, but at only $3.6 million annually, there is a slight bit of wonder as to whether the Flyers could've found a way to bring him back into the fold. 

Shayne Gostisbehere

Gostisbehere is headed to Carolina, too, on a three-year, $9.6 million contract (at $3.2 million per through 2027). 

It'll be the 31-year old's second stint through Carolina, as he was a deadline acquisition from the now former Arizona Coyotes in 2023 for a Hurricanes playoff run that ended in an Eastern Conference Final sweep from the Florida Panthers.

Gostisbehere was once a rookie who lit the hockey world on fire when he made it up to the Flyers as a regular in the 2015-16 season, but injuries and inconsistencies prevented him from ever fully recapturing that flash of NHL stardom. 

Still, he was useful as a puck-moving power-play specialist from the point, but not one that the old Chuck Fletcher regime saw going any further for the Flyers when they traded him to Arizona in the summer of 2021 – infamously for no return. 

He signed on with Detroit for a year last season and did put up some good offensive output with a 10-goal, 56-point campaign, but the Red Wings – much like the Flyers simultaneously – had a playoff push that completely burnt out down the stretch.

Cam Atkinson

Not long after being bought out by the Flyers, Atkinson found a spot down in Tampa with the Lightning for one year at $900,000

Now 35, Atkinson struggled immensely this past season in a return to the ice after a full year missed from neck surgery.

By the end of 2023-24, it was clear that the Flyers would be looking to move on, and had rumors going around that they were looking out for trade options before finally going the buyout route. 

The Lightning are a team in a bit of flux right now after they couldn't come to terms with their former free-agent captain Steven Stamkos, and with an uncertain lineup from where things stand right now, in theory, he could find himself one more consistent role with whatever amount of NHL hockey he has left. 

And for what it's worth, it seemed like the split between him and the Flyers was done pretty amicably.

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