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July 01, 2019

Flyers sign eight players on opening day of NHL free agency

Unfortunately, unless you're a big hockey fan, you probably haven't heard of any of them before...

While all the big news is coming out of NBA free agency, the Flyers have quietly been busy making moves on Monday, the first official day of NHL free agency, signing eight unrestricted free agents to help add some organizational depth in Alain Vigneault's first year at the helm.

Here's a look at the players the Flyers have added so far on Day 1, keeping in mind many of these players will spend most (if not all) of their time with the Phantoms:

•  Andy Andreoff, 28, has agreed to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $750,000. Andreoff is one of the most experienced players the Flyers added, at least in terms of NHL games under his belt, having appeared in 159 NHL games over parts of four seasons with the Kings, who originally drafted him in the third round back in 2011. And during that time, Andreoff notched 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists). Last season with Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, the 6-foot-1, 203-pound left wing recorded 55 points (26 goals, 29 assists) in 75 regular season games — plus four goals and an assist in 12 playoff games — to go along with 150 PIM. 

•  Andy Welinski, 26, has agreed to a one-year contract with an average annual value of $750,000. Welinski, one of the few players the Flyers signed to a one-way deal on Monday, is a 6-foot-1, 201-pound defenseman who spent the last two seasons bouncing back and forth between Anaheim and the San Diego Gulls, the Ducks' AHL affiliate. In 33 career NHL games, Welinski has six points (1 goal, 5 assists). Last season, Welinski averaged 16:02 of ice time in 26 games with Anaheim, but also recorded 19 points (8 goals, 11 assists) in 27 games for San Diego. In 146 games of AHL experience, Welisnski, a former third-round pick, has recorded 83 points (24 goals, 59 assists).

•  Nate Prosser, 33, has agreed to a two-year, two-way contract with an average annual value of $700,000. Prosser is the veteran of the group, having appeared in 353 NHL games for the Minnesota Wild over parts of 10 seasons since signing there as a free agent back in 2010, including 15 appearances last season, when he split time between the Minnesota and their AHL affiliate in Iowa. Overall, Prosser, a 6-foot-2, 201-pound defenseman, has recorded 47 NHL points (10 goals, 37 assists) 

•  Kurtis Gabriel, 26, has agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with an average annual value of $700,000. Gabriel, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound right wing, spent last season with the Devils, splitting time between New Jersey and its AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Devils. In 22 games with the Devils last season, the former third-round pick had just two goals and two assists. Over parts of three seasons for New Jersey and Minnesota, who originally drafted him back in 2013, Gabriel appeared in 38 NHL games and recorded two goals and three assists. In 264 AHL games, Gabriel has recorded 54 points (28 goals, 26 assists) 

•  Tyler Wotherspoon, 26, has agreed to a two-year, two-way contract with an average annual value of $700,000.  Last season with the AHL's San Antonio Rampage, Wotherspoon, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound defenseman, recorded 22 points (4 goals, 18 assists) in 70 games. In 355 career AHL games, the former second-round pick has posted 120 points (22 goals, 98 assists) to go along with a career plus-59 rating. Additionally, Wotherspoon has 30 games of NHL experience (over parts of four seasons) with the Calgary Flames, where he recorded five assists. 

•  Jean-Francois Berube, 27, has agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with an average annual value of $700,000. Berube, a 6-foot-1, 177-pound goalie, went 21-22-0 with a 3.01 GAA and a .896 GAA in 43 appearances with the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL. Additionally, he has 34 games of NHL experience over parts of three seasons with the Islanders and Blackhawks, going 9-10-4 with a 3.39 GAA and a .898 save percentage. Originally a fourth-round pick of the Kings back in 2009, Berube has gone 99-55-9 with a 2.48 GAA and a .909 save percentage in 168 AHL games, and, in 2015, helped the Manchester Monarchs to a Calder Cup title. In that postseason, Berube went 13-3 in 17 appearances.

•  Chris Bigras, 24, has agreed to two-year, two-way contract with an average annual value of $700,000. Bigras, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defenseman has appeared in 46 NHL games over parts of two seasons with the Avalanche, averaging 13:31 of ice time per game with a goal and three assists. Since being drafted 32nd overall in 2013, Bigras has appeared in 179 career AHL games, notching 83 points (17 goals, 66 assists). Last season, in 54 games for the Harford Wolf Pack, Bigras recorded 22 points (3 goals, 19 assists).

•  Kyle Criscuolo, 27, has agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with an average annual value of $700,000. Criscuolo, a center who spent last season in the AHL with Rochester (6 goals, 14 assists), should be familiar with his new club, having grown up in Burlington, New Jersey before attending St. Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia, where he helped lead his team to the Flyers Cup. Criscuolo then attended Harvard University before signing an AHL contract with the Grand Rapid Griffins in 2016. After recording 41 points (17 goals, 24 assists) in his first AHL season, Criscuolo, who has notched 95 points total (38 goals, 57 assists) in 174 AHL games, earned himself an NHL contract with the Sabres, where he appeared in nine games during the 2017-18 season. 

It may not be the moves Flyers fans were hoping for, but hey, it's better than nothing. 

These moves come on the heels of a busy pre-free agency period for the Flyers in which general manager Chuck Fletcher traded for (and signed) RFA Kevin Hayes, traded Radko Gudas to the Capitals for Matt Niskanen, and acquired Justin Braun from the Sharks.

And the Flyers may not be done yet, according to, even after the eight moves they made on Monday, the team still has just under $15 million in cap space with which to work. Stay tuned... 

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