The Philadelphia Flyers are in the midst of a big-time rebuild and although they made a handful of signings throughout the first two weeks of NHL free agency, none of them really move the needle for Philly’s expectations next season. The Flyers missed the playoffs for a third straight season last spring, finishing with one of the worst records in the NHL.
The Flyers had some talent but plenty of growing pains with a lot of their young players trying to make names for themselves in the NHL. John Tortorella’s first season in charge of the Flyers went about as smoothly as people expected it to given the level of talent on the roster. Still, there were some positives to come out of an otherwise forgettable season.
Fast forward to the summer and the Flyers have new leadership in the front office. Former Flyers player and fan favorite Daniel Briere took over as the team’s general manager in March and has already made a couple of headline-grabbing moves. He traded away forward Kevin Hayes and defenseman Ivan Provorov, then took perhaps the steal of the first round of the NHL draft, selecting 18-year-old Matvei Michkov with the seventh pick.
Briere has also made some impact signings for the immediate future and some that could push younger players to exceed expectations in order to preserve their spots in the lineup. Here are some grades for the Flyers additions this offseason.
Cam York, defenseman – C+
This is one of two re-signings for the Flyers that are locked into the roster for next season. York was a first-round pick by the Flyers in 2019 and made his debut in 2021. He played a career-high 54 games last season, scoring two goals with 18 assists and 69 blocks.
Philly expects York to take the next step next season and develop into a surefire top-four defenseman. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2025 if the Flyers don’t extend him by then.
Noah Cates, left wing – B+
Another re-signing by Briere, Cates was perhaps the surprise player of the season for the Flyers in 2022-2023. He was one of three Philly players to appear in all 82 games and tallied 38 points on 13 goals and 25 assists.
The Flyers signed him to a two-year, $5.25 million deal, which is a little steep for a player with one full season in the NHL. Philly has faith that they can further develop Cates though and will likely have him on one of the top two lines next season.
Marc Staal, defenseman – B+
The Flyers are making it somewhat of a tradition to sign veteran defensemen in the twilight of their career to a one-year deal. This offseason’s signee is 36-year-old Marc Staal, who inked a deal of just over $1 million.
Staal played all 82 games for the Florida Panthers last season and didn’t miss a playoff game as Florida reached the Stanley Cup Final. He gives the Flyers some leadership and at the very least durability in the back. There’s a chance he is dealt to a contender at the trade deadline.
Rhett Gardner, center – D
This one doesn’t make much sense for the Flyers. They already have a plethora of centers that are fringe NHL players at best and Gardner doesn’t exactly stick out from the crowd. Drafted in 2016, the 27-year-old has two points in 40 career games. He has decent numbers in the AHL but it hasn’t translated at the next level. He may not spend much time in a Flyers jersey.
Garnet Hathaway, right wing – B-
Hathaway brings a ton of experience to the table, having played in 457 games across eight NHL seasons. What makes Hathaway stand out is his durability. He incredibly played in 84 games last season for the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins, scoring 22 points.
The Flyers already have their top-four right-wingers so it will be interesting to see where Hathaway slots in on his two-year deal. He does give Philly some much-needed depth at the position though as a cushion for some of the younger players.
Victor Mete, defenseman – C
Mete hasn’t been much of an impact player in the NHL but he does have 247 games under his belt. The Flyers will be Mete’s fourth different team since his debut in 2017. He notched two points in 11 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, missing a lot of time due to injury.
Mete will be fighting for a roster spot as the Flyers seem to already have their top four defenseman set and that’s without including Staal. Philly could move a defenseman before the season starts which would open up some potential ice time for Mete.
Ryan Poehling, center – C+
An intriguing signing for the Flyers, Poehling brings intradivision experience having spent last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He played in 53 games, recording 14 points with seven goals and assists.
The former first-round draft pick is still 24 years old and should be given the opportunity for significant playing time through the center. The Flyers may have gotten a bargain if they can unlock some of Poehling’s potential.