Each day from now until July 1, the day free agency begins, Sarah Baicker and Tim Riday will profile some of the NHL's top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.
Milan Michalek, left wing
Last team: Ottawa Senators
2013-14 cap hit: $4.33 million
Michalek owns a great combination of speed, size and strength. He's a streaky scorer, but is polished on both ends of the ice. His goals have been down over the past two seasons -- he has just 21 since the start of the 2012-13 season -- but he's found other ways to contribute. He can play in any game situation and is a tremendous competitor.
Michalek, a five-time 20-goal scorer, was taken sixth overall by the San Jose Sharks at the 2003 NHL draft. He spent time on the Sharks' top line with Joe Thornton before being traded to the Senators in 2009. His best season came in 2011-12, when he scored 35 goals and had 60 points in 77 games. A knee injury sidelined Michalek for most of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign. He had a rough start to the 2013-14 season, but finished the year strong while playing with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky on Ottawa's first line. He collected seven goals and five assists in his final 19 games.
Michalek is going to explore free agency, and it's hard to blame him. He could quite possibly command a raise if he leaves Ottawa, or he could come back to the Sens with offers and hope they agree to beat anything else he's pitched. Would he fit well with the Flyers? Yeah -- if you've been reading these, you know I keep harping on the Flyers' need of a top-line winger. Michalek could be a good fit there. But with the Flyers' money concerns, and Michalek's obvious desire to make more than the $4.33 million he made last year, I just don't see it happening.
Michalek is definitely worth considering. He could be a nice fit on Claude Giroux's line with Jakub Voracek. The big question, as always, is how much Michalek will command on the open market. The Senators have expressed interest in re-signing the speedy forward and are a longshot to bring back Hemsky, who wants to test free agent waters. It's also worth mentioning Spezza wants out of town, so it's possible Ottawa could overpay to keep Michalek. If that's the case, it should be fairly easy for Ron Hextall to stay away. Sure, Michalek's speed and scoring touch would be a tremendous asset to have, but his health and well-documented dry spells could make for a high-risk signing.