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Flyers' free agents: Stay or go?

Flyers' free agents: Stay or go?

This week, we’ll be taking a look back at the Flyers’ season and a peek at what lies ahead. Today, a look at the free agents on the Flyers’ roster and whether or not they will be back with the club.

On Wednesday, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren was promoted to team president and assistant general manager Ron Hextall was subsequently promoted to the role of general manager to usher in a new era.

Hextall, a first-time general manager, won’t have much time to get his feet wet because he has decisions to make on five unrestricted free agents and five restricted free agents currently on the Flyers’ roster before he can proceed with his offseason plans.

It’s time to take a look at those free agents and whether or not they’ll be back in orange and black sweaters this coming fall.

The players’ respective cap hits from this past season is in parentheses, courtesy of capgeek.com

 

Unrestricted free agents

 

RW Steve Downie ($2.65 million)

Things just never got on track for Downie, who was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Max Talbot on Halloween, during his second stint with the Flyers.

In his first game back with the team that originally drafted him, Downie broke his orbital bone in a fight and missed about two weeks of action. When he returned, he scored just three goals in 51 games. Just one of those goals came after Dec 11 and it was an empty-netter. Things got so bad for Downie that he found himself as a healthy scratch toward the end of the year and then missed the playoff series with the Rangers with what Holmgren called “balance issues.”

When Downie was on the ice, he found himself mostly on an effective checking line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read that drew the opponent’s best players night in and night out. Despite that fact, Downie didn’t prove much so the guess here is that he won’t be brought back.

 

G Ray Emery ($1.65 million)

Many thought Emery would be the Flyers’ starting netminder when he signed with team last offseason. But that was before Steve Mason skyrocketed into goalie superstardom in a way Flyers fans haven’t seen in years.

Still, Emery played admirably well in a backup role as he went 9-12-2 with a .903 save percentage, 2.96 goals-against average and two shutouts. And those weren’t easy games as Emery saw the likes of the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lighting across from him when he started.

The $1.65 million cap hit isn’t a terrible number for a backup who put up those kinds of numbers against that kind of competition. Emery coming back to the Flyers is certainly within the realm of possibility. But it will likely come down to whether or not Emery feels he has a legitimate chance to compete for a starting job somewhere else. The guess here is that he’ll at least get that chance somewhere and go.

D Hal Gill ($700,000)

The now-39-year-old Gill was brought in to be a depth option in case the Flyers needed him. The Flyers didn’t need him much and he played just six regular-season games without registering a point.

After Nick Grossmann was injured in Game 4 against the Rangers, Gill stepped into the lineup in Game 5 and will be remembered for fumbling a pass in the defensive zone that led to a Rangers goal just after missing a wide-open net on the other end.

The guess here is that was Gill’s last hurrah and he walks off into the hockey sunset.

 

C Adam Hall ($600,000)

Hall was a sturdy fourth-line center for the Flyers during the recently-completed season.

The 33-year-old won faceoffs at a 59.4 clip to lead the team and was also an effective penalty killer while mostly playing alongside Michael Raffl. He also added four goals and five assists.

Even though the Flyers are stacked at center and have Scott Laughton on the way, Hall can still be a big help. The guess is that the Flyers figure out a way to bring him back to once again anchor the fourth line, whether it’s at center or on the wing.

D Kimmo Timonen ($6 million)

Let’s preface this by saying 39-year-old Timonen has yet to decide whether or not he wants to return to the Flyers for a 16th NHL season. If he does, it certainly won’t be at the $6 million rate he played for this past season.

Say what you want about Timonen, but he was still the Flyers’ best defenseman last season. It wasn’t fair that he had to be forced into that position yet again due to a lack of pro depth at the position but that’s the way it was. That said he still posted six goals and 29 assists and was still an incredibly effective quarterback on the power play.

If he comes back, he can’t be the team’s No.1 defenseman again. He just ran out of gas at the end of the year. The Rangers skated up and down on him in the playoffs and he just couldn’t keep up.

Timonen can certainly still help the Flyers in a big way but he needs help, whether it comes from outside the organization or one of the kids in the minors is ready to go. If Timonen is ready to accept a deal in the, say, $2 million range, the guess is he’ll be back for one more run at Lord Stanley’s Cup.

 

Restricted free agents (The Flyers have the right to match any offer to one of these players.)


RW Jason Akeson ($750,000)

If you didn’t know who Akeson was before the Stanley Cup Playoffs began, you sure do now after he burst onto the scene against the Rangers with two goals in seven games.

It wasn’t just that Akeson, a rookie who had played just two regular-season games before the playoffs began, scored two goals. He was one of the Flyers’ few offensive threats in the series. He was one of the few Flyers who were making things happen. Plus, he fit it nicely and didn’t skip a beat on the defensive line with Couturier and Read.

He led the Phantoms with 24 goals and granted nine NHL games is a small sample size, but Akeson looks like a keeper. The guess is he stays and starts next year with the big club.

 

D Erik Gustafsson ($1 million)

Some thought the 25-year-old, offensive-minded defenseman would see more than the 31 regular-season and two playoff games he played. But the acquisition of Andrew MacDonald and the Flyers’ relative health along the blue line this past season nullified those plans.

When he did play in the regular season, Gustafsson scored two goals and added eight assists. He also added a goal in Game 6 against the Rangers.

But with kids such as Shayne Gostisbehere likely to challenge for a roster spot in the fall and who the Flyers already have on defense, is there a spot for Gustafsson in Philadelphia? The guess is probably not. Don’t be surprised if the Flyers look to add him into some sort of trade package, whether it’s his negotiating rights or signing him and then trading him.

 

G Cal Heeter ($783,750)

The 25-year-old Flyers’ third-string goalie played just one NHL game – the meaningless season finale against the Carolina Hurricanes – and proved how green he was during the 6-5 shootout loss.

He’s not a viable backup option to Mason at this point. The guess is he’ll be brought back and put in the minors to start for the new Lehigh Valley Phantoms AHL team.

 

LW Tye McGinn ($775,000)

McGinn, a favorite among many Flyers fans for the physicality and grit he brings to the game, totaled four goals and an assist with the big club this season.

But that was before he tapered off from a hot start and eventually lost his roster spot to Raffl. He rejoined the Flyers later on in the season but didn’t impress the coaching staff and a lost playoff spot to Akeson.

The good news is that McGinn is still just 23-years-old, finished second on the Phantoms with 20 goals and the organization likes his style so the guess is he’ll be back but for some more seasoning in the minors.

C Brayden Schenn ($870,000)

And now here’s where things get interesting.

The 22-year-old center posted career highs in goals with 20 and assists with 21 but was very inconsistent throughout the season and even more so in the playoffs where he didn’t score a single goal in seven games.

Holmgren had some pointed comments about Schenn during the then-general manger’s exit interview following the Game 7 loss to the Rangers. He said the two sides haven’t talked about a deal and that Schenn’s lack of consistency from the second-line center spot concerned him.

None of that is good news for Schenn, who was the crown jewel of the Mike Richards trade at the time and not Wayne Simmonds, when you consider Couturier got his bridge deal last year and is a year younger than Schenn. Keep in mind a player with Schenn’s upside could provide a huge return in any sort of trade. Cough *defense* cough.

That said, Hextall’s philosophy is to build from within so the guess is he gives Schenn another chance or two to reach that next level the Flyers would like to see him at. But don’t be surprised if his name becomes popular in the trade rumor mill this summer.

CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

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Position Title: Intern
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JJ Redick: Being anti-Trump 'is sort of like eating breakfast in the morning'

JJ Redick: Being anti-Trump 'is sort of like eating breakfast in the morning'

For a few of the Sixers players on media day Monday, sticking to sports was not an option.

To recap, first President Donald Trump during a rally on Friday in Alabama called protesting NFL players "sons of bitches," saying the owners should "fire" any player that protests. Trump on Saturday then went to his familiar realm, tweeting that he was uninviting Stephen Curry and the NBA-champion Warriors to the White House.

Of all the players speaking at Sixers media day Monday,  the team's marquee free-agent signing, JJ Redick, had the most to say about the situation.

"I'm about as anti-Trump as you can get and I've been that way since the election," Redick said. And he was just getting started. 

But he wasn't the only one to speak about the president's comments.

Here are the full quotes from media day.

Redick 

To CSNPhilly's Amy Fadool and Marshall Harris on Trump's social media and tweets directed at Curry:
"It’s very interesting how [Trump] uses social media. I would say this weekend, it was almost surreal. As an NBA player, you’re kind of taking the big picture view and going, ‘what’s going on here?’ 

"Our active, sitting president is calling NFL players ‘sons of bitches’ and is going after Steph Curry and Lebron (James), who have done more for sports and culture and African-American communities than anyone; it’s surreal. I agree with what Lebron said; his use of the presidency and what it represents is not what it represented to me a year ago. It’s not what it represented to me with Barack Obama or George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. Those are the presidents that I knew as a young person and as an adult, and his presidency doesn’t represent that, the White House doesn’t represent that. So of course I agree with Lebron, I agree with what the Warriors are doing by not going to the White House. I don’t think any team should go to the White House; you’re actively saying, ‘I support this guy.’ 

"The other thing, too, is to speak out against Trump at this point is almost like eating breakfast. It’s what’s you should do – you should eat breakfast because it’s part of a daily, balanced diet. On the list of things that he’s done to offend me, his comments this week were like 87th. There’s more important things going on like North Korea and flood and disaster relief that we’re dealing with right now in Puerto Rico, Florida and Houston; those are the things that are important. So it’s mind-boggling that that’s what he’s spending his time on.”

On what he feels is his responsibility as an American and an NBA player:
“I think you should take an active role in your own education. No one is going to educate you – life will educate you, of course. But just take an active role in your education, that’s the biggest thing. The second biggest thing is just love other people, that’s all we’re supposed to do. Just be kind and love other people.”

To reporters on if he feels more responsibility as a white player to step up:
"I don't think it has anything to do with being white. I've certainly never been oppressed because of the color of my skin. I'm a human and can certainly relate to any emotion that humans have felt. I'm about as anti-Trump as you can get and I've been that way since the election. I think being anti-Trump at this point is sort of like eating breakfast in the morning. It's just something that you do during your day. I mean how often do you go through a day and not be offended by the guy?"

On if he would support his teammates protesting:
"In terms of doing something to protest, I think it's best that those things are done as a team. That's just me. But if guys want to do something, I'm all for it and of course I would stand with anyone regardless of the color of their skin or their background or anything like that."

Jerryd Bayless

On Trump and on the NFL protests:
"I think what he's done in dividing us and his narrow-minded views are obviously not a good thing for the country. I think we all know and we've seen his comments from immigration to climate change to 'sons of bitches' to 'fine people' that are part of a rally [in Charlottesville] and what not. So I think what he's done is self-explanatory, but now is the time to kind of see how we're all going to come back from this and how we move forward. 

"The protests are great. I think everybody has the right to do whatever they want to do but now it's time to figure out as a whole -- black, white, Mexican, Asian, whatever -- how are we going to move forward? How are we going to come together so we can make him feel what he's doing is wrong? We can go back and forth about this. I don't know if this is really the appropriate time to do this but... it's disappointing. But hopefully from this everybody will be able to move forward and figure out the way to make him go a different direction."

Justin Anderson, a Virginia native and University of Virginia alumnus 

On the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, recent NFL protests and if the Sixers are planning a protest:
Obviously the Charlottesville situation hit home. It was very relevant to me in my life. Fortunately we just had a concert last night to help promote unity through music. It was something beautiful to see at our university. But as far as the protesting things that we've seen as of late, we've been talking through group texts, we've been sending the same messages and screen shots of things that have been said. Just continue to talk to each other about it. Fortunately we have about 10 days until we play our first game so far as what we're going to do to I guess physically try to show something or send a message, we haven't spoke about that yet and we have time and we'll figure it out. But I think we're all in agreement, on the same page. We're all in agreement in that locker room on the things that are going on. We're all working to do our part to help shed light in the right direction and that's to help build unity. To help lift up people in a time when people are being pushed down. We just want to make sure that we have each other's backs and I think that's something that's bringing us together even closer.

James-Michael McAdoo, who signed a two-way deal with the Sixers after spending the last three years in Golden State

On the situation involving the Warriors and the president:
"Obviously that's not something that we necessarily broadcast too loudly. But you can see it and hear those guy's sound bites out there on the West Coast. It's obviously something that needs to be addressed. I think my ex-teammates are dong a wonderful job in addressing that in the political climate being what it is right now. "