John Gove The Hockey Writers
Farewell to Philadelphia?
With the 2016 NHL Entry Draft less than a month away, the Philadelphia Flyers, along with 27 other teams are completely in offseason mode. The 2015-16 season is now behind them and it is now time to focus on making improvements for next season.
Flyers’ General Manager, Ron Hextall, will look to the draft to stock up on talent for the future and search the free-agent pool for immediate help. Another task on Hextall’s lengthy to-do list this summer is rid his roster of a few undesirables.
The orange and black need to make some room for the youngsters waiting for their chance to play with the big boys and could use a little more spending money. The only way Hextall will be able to achieve this is by removing players who just don’t fit into the Flyers’ plans anymore either via trade or buyout.
Here are some players that could have played their final games as a Philadelphia Flyer last season.
I feel that it is appropriate to discuss the most obvious member of this list first. There is no possible way that R.J. Umberger is a member of the Flyers’ organization next season. Since returning to Philadelphia in 2014, he has been nothing but an utter disappointment. After 2014-15’s 15-point season, many people were hopeful that Umberger would experience a bit of a bounceback outing in 2015-16. Unfortunately, that did not occur as he only laced his skates for 39 games and scored a measly two goals.
Umberger is still under contract for one more season where he is due to make $4.5M. However, it is extremely likely that his contract will be bought out this summer. It will be hard to find any member of Flyers Nation that will be upset with that.
R.J. Umberger says he expects to be bought out by #Flyers
— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) April 26, 2016
The veteran defenseman has had a solid three seasons as the veteran leader of Philadelphia’s blueline. However, at 38-years-old, he is at the tail end of his career and the Flyers are no longer in need of his services. If Hextall were somehow able to deal Streit away to a contender in need of a seasoned defender, he would be making room on his roster for one of his talented defensive prospects.
Unfortunately, trading Streit will be easier said than done for Philadelphia. He has one more year on his contract with a cap hit of $5.25M. It may be quite difficult to find a trade partner who would be willing to take on his salary, even if it is for only one more year. Hextall has proven in past that he can make the impossible deals actually happen, getting rid of Chris Pronger’s contract and trading Vincent Lecavalier to the Los Angeles Kings. Who knows if he will be able to work his magic again.
Read is another member of the Flyers that has just not lived up to his expectations. After scoring 24 goals in 2011-12 and 22 during 2013-14, Philadelphia expected the forward from Ilderton, Ontario to be a reliable scorer on their roster. Unfortunately, Read has been unable to demonstrate any sort of scoring consistency the past two seasons and the Flyers are in desperate need of players who can light the lamp.
Trading Read is not a must-do by any means this offseason but it would be beneficial for the Flyers to see if there is any market for the winger. He is on the books until the summer of 2018 with annual cap hit of $3.625M that would be nice to get rid of. It is hard to imagine that Hextall and Hakstol view Read as a key piece to the team’s future and it would be nice to send him elsewhere to make room for someone who is.
Mason is the least likely of the current Flyers on this list to be sent packing but with the emergence of Michal Neuvirth last season, the 28-year-old netminder could be viewed as expendable. There is always a market for capable starting goaltenders and there could be a few teams out there willing to give Mason a shot. If Philadelphia views Neuvirth as their starter goalie going forward, it would make the most sense to at least see what kind of return they could get for Mason who is a free agent in 2017.
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