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June 19, 2024

5 Flyers thoughts: Are the Flyers trying to move up the NHL Draft board?

The NHL Draft is approaching, and Wednesday afternoon brought up a rumor that the Flyers and Senators could be in talks.

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Danny-Briere-Flyers-Retirement-Ceremony-2015-NHL.jpg Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Flyers GM Danny Brière pictured during his retirement ceremony at the Wells Fargo Center back in October 2015. Does Brière have something brewing ahead of the NHL Draft in Vegas next week?

The NHL Draft is a week away. Right now the Flyers have the 12th overall pick and the Florida Panthers' first toward the end of the round. 

But the rumor mill is churning, and there appears to be some noise developing in the background. Let's just get right into it and work our way down...

Stove's on

Here's the big afternoon spin of the rumor mill:

GM Danny Brière is scheduled to talk Thursday morning at the team's training center in Voorhees for pre-draft media availability. 

Buckle up. 

Cam Atkinson trade buzz

Coming in from TSN's Darren Dreger on Tuesday:

OK, three perspectives here. 

Let's start from the Flyers' side: I think it's been pretty evident for a good while now that the organization wants to move on. Atkinson recently turned 35, struggled for the better part of the season after missing the previous year entirely from neck surgery, and had scratches and benchings become increasingly common as younger skaters progressed toward taking on more. He still managed 13 goals, but that was all across 70 games and prolonged stretches where it just didn't look like there was anything left, no matter who he was put on a line with. Atkinson has one more year left on his deal at a cap hit of $5.875 million, and while the Flyers probably could live with just eating it (either by contract buyout or from simply keeping him), it seems that they would much rather try to move it if they can. 

Atkinson's side: He has a modified no-trade clause for the final year of his deal, is pretty rooted in the East Coast between Philly and Columbus going back to his Blue Jacket days, and like the Flyers, San Jose isn't exactly going to be in a position to compete anytime soon. That clause is in his contract for him to use, even if the Flyers weren't the ones who drafted it up, and has to be honored.

The Sharks' side: Remember back at the beginning of the season when San Jose was winless and the worst team in the NHL by a brutal margin? You should, because after an abysmal 0-10-1 start that required GM Mike Grier to go into the locker room to give his team a wake-up call, they beat the Flyers to finally claim a win. The Flyers played a lot better after that, while the Sharks got a jolt but just as quickly crashed back down to earth. They fired David Quinn once the season was up with a dead-last finish, and on the whole, were probably seeking a veteran to help instill more accountability in the locker room. Atkinson might have been one of the options they were looking toward for that. However, the Sharks did just claim Barclay Goodrow off waivers from the Rangers on Wednesday, so maybe that book shut. 

About the cap

With or without Atkinson's cap hit, or with a retention or buyout spread of it, money is going to be tight this upcoming season. 

Between the retained salary still owed to Kevin Hayes over the next two years ($3,571,428 per), the buried cap on Cal Petersen ($3.85 million), and the substantial hits due toward Sean Couturier ($7.75 million), Travis Sanheim ($6.25 million), Owen Tippett ($6.2 million), Rasmus Ristolainen ($5.1 million), and the last year of Travis Konecny's current deal ($5.5 million), the Flyers are going to be really up against it from where things stand right now. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Flyers' salary cap topped out at $87,196,428, leaving them with $803,572 of wiggle room per CapFriendly (we will miss you, CapFriendly). 

Of course, Ryan Ellis going back on long-term injured reserve will offer some relief once the season starts and Ristolainen's name could be back on the rumor mill the closer to the draft we get, but at the same time, this was kind of by design on Brière's part and is probably part of the reason why he, Keith Jones, and Dan Hilferty have been really non-commital about actually making the playoffs as the next step for the team. 

They made an admirable and surprising push last season, but right now the Flyers aren't talented enough and too expensive. 

They had to eat up money to get Hayes and Ivan Provorov out of here, and still seem to be willing to eat up more if it means clearing out Atkinson, Petersen, or possibly Ristolainen, but that can leave them in a tricky situation. 

The Flyers, since bringing Brière and Jones on as the front office leads, have made no bones about undergoing a years-long process to try and build the team into a Cup contender, taking on reserved expectations that there were probably going to be a couple of lean seasons to endure at the outset. 

So in that regard, they do have the time to take on that kind of dead money and just wait to let it lapse, but they should not make it a habit.

The further the money is spread out and the more of it is taken on, the longer that waiting game lasts, and all while new contracts come due – the Flyers are already there right now with Konecny, who won't come cheap, and will be negotiating with Cam York and Tyson Foerster on new deals before they know it.

They have to make sure the deck clears at some point.

MORE: Is it the right call to sign Travis Konecny long-term?

Keep EJ around?

From The Athletic's Kevin Kurz on Monday regarding Erik Johnson:

It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to keep Johnson around all things considered, and probably wouldn't be all that expensive to do either. 

The Flyers went and got Marc Staal last summer at a touch over $1 million specifically to serve as a veteran presence for the younger defensemen and with the understanding that he would be playing in an increasingly limited role as the year wore on.

Johnson, acquired at the trade deadline to at least give the team some late-season, Cup-winning experience for their playoff hopes after dealing away Sean Walker, can do that same job and did seem to enjoy his time in Philly based on what he said after their season ended. 

Johnson is 36 and doesn't have much NHL hockey left in him after 16 years, but there really shouldn't be a problem with the Flyers getting whatever is left in the tank while he presumably helps Cam York, Jamie Drysdale, and Egor Zamula along.

Michkov Watch update

Here's your latest photo of Matvei Michkov in Flyers gear:

The Michkov buzz has been pretty quiet otherwise since the big wave of news that came out of Russia last month. The Flyers, meanwhile, have been sticking to business as usual on his timeline: He still has his KHL contract. 

Fans are most definitely keeping an eye out though.

MORE: What happens if Matvei Michkov does come over?

Loose ends...

• Eric Tulsky, formerly of Broad Street Hockey fame within the Flyers community for his analytics writing, is now the full-time general manager for the Carolina Hurricanes. He also has a B.A. in chemistry and physics from Harvard and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Cal. Berkeley on his resume leading up to this, and has been involved in the Hurricanes' scouting, cap compliance, and player personnel decisions as they rose into one of the NHL's most consistently competitive teams. What a journey. 

• Ian Laperrière signed a two-year contract extension to stay on as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms' head coach in the AHL, the Flyers announced Wednesday. Laperrière, most known in Philadelphia for his role on the Flyers' way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, took over behind the bench for the Phantoms three seasons ago and has had them in the playoffs for the past two. All the while, young pieces like Cam York, Tyson Foerster, Egor Zamula, and Sam Ersson have taken major strides while developing over in Allentown, stepping into key roles on the current NHL team. 

So with this move to keep Laperrière in place, the Flyers are trying to ensure that the development pipeline keeps moving, too.

NHL Draft: 5 forwards the Flyers could take at pick No. 12

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