When Johnny Gaudreau signed his six-year, $40.5MM contract with the Calgary Flames ahead of the 2016-17 season, talks immediately began swirling that when the contract expired in 2022, he’d return to his roots and sign with his hometown Philadelphia Flyers. Nearly six years later, those rumors are as prevalent as ever. However, in his latest 32 Thoughts article, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wonders if the most prudent path for the Flyers, given the uncertainty surrounding Ryan Ellis’ health, is to pursue several medium-sized pieces as opposed to one big one, believing those conversations have at least happened. Friedman adds that the Flyers are a team who generally tries to go big in their moves, noting that they have tested the market on many of their players and have made a real pitch for Chicago Blackhawks’ forward Alex DeBrincat, more than simply kicking the tires.
The comments and speculation from Friedman provide some new perspective on how the Flyers may choose to pursue this offseason given how their previous few seasons have played out. Philadelphia has made the postseason just once in the previous four seasons and has only made it out of the first round once since 2011-12, which featured a first round win over the Montreal Canadiens and a second-round loss to the New York Islanders in the bubble. Coming off the heels of a 61 point season that included trading franchise icon Claude Giroux, it would seem that the team might look to take a step back and rebuild, but whether the rumor is a big splash or several smaller pieces, it does not appear a rebuild is in the cards. With several quality players signed long-term, including Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee, Cam Atkinson, Ivan Provorov, Rasmus Ristolainen, and promising young goaltender Carter Hart, as well as Ellis, it would make sense why the organization may try to simply push forward.
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