5 Free Agents Who Should Be on Philadelphia Flyers' Wish List

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IMay 21, 2014

5 Free Agents Who Should Be on Philadelphia Flyers' Wish List

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    The Philadelphia Flyers have an extremely important offseason ahead of them. New general manager Ron Hextall needs to ace his first few moves as the boss, and free agency is obviously the most important part.

    The Flyers don't have any big unrestricted free agents of their own, but there are a number of players hitting the open market who could be of interest to Philadelphia.

    The team needs to add scoring from the wings and also get some talent on defense as well. With the salary cap projected to increase, there will be some room to make moves.

    Here are five players who should be on Philadelphia's wish list this offseason. They aren't necessarily safe or even realistic targets, but they are players whom Hextall should chase if the opportunity is there.


    Salary cap information from Capgeek.com

Thomas Vanek, LW

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    This would really be the splash of the offseason, and I'm not sure if Hextall would be willing to dive in during his first offseason. But my goodness, Thomas Vanek would look great in orange and black.

    Right now, Michael Raffl and Scott Hartnell are the team's only two true left wingers, and neither is really top-line material. Vanek would form arguably the most dangerous top line in the league next to Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

    His most recent contract was a mammoth seven-year, $50 million deal. At 30 years of age, he will certainly not command that type of deal again, although it will still take a lot of money to reel him in.

    Vanek is only a plausible target if guys like Vincent Lecavalier, Hartnell and a defenseman or two are traded away, which I am fully in favor of.

Matt Niskanen, D

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    If Max Talbot could do it, then why couldn't Matt Niskanen decide to switch over to the good guys and become a Philadelphia Flyer this offseason?

    Niskanen is not without his flaws, but he is overall a very solid two-way defenseman who is still only 27 years old. He will cost a good chunk of money, but if Kimmo Timonen retires and the Flyers can move a couple of their overpriced contracts (Hartnell and Lecavalier), then Niskanen would be in their range.

    He racked up 46 points this season while playing over 21 minutes per game and only missing one game.

    However, his most recent contract paid him $2.3 million per year and the Flyers would definitely have to dole out more cash than that to get him. That would be a risk, but if they can cut the bad contracts on the books right now, then it would be a worthy investment.

Matt Moulson, LW

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    Matt Moulson is an extremely intriguing player who could actually help the Flyers out immensely given their general lack of talent at left wing.

    The former New York Islander would be a nice consolation prize if Vanek turns out to be way out of Philadelphia's price rangewhich is likely.

    The thing with Moulson is that it's difficult to gauge how much money he will command on the open market.

    On one hand, he scored 30 or more goals in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12. On the other hand, he will turn 31 during this upcoming season, was traded twice this past season (like Vanek) and only scored 23 goals.

    His cap hit on his most recent contract was $3.13 million, and anything in that range would be worth it for Philadelphia. If he demands well over $4 million, though, I'd say no thanks.

Nikita Nikitin, D

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    While he isn't a stud top-pairing defenseman, Nikita Nikitin is only 27 years old and has a big 6'4" frame that helps him be very effective in his own end.

    He is not as physical as his size would lend you to believe, but is actually a pretty decent skater and can move the puck around when he's feeling confident.

    Nikitin would be a decent upgrade over Luke Schenn, as he brings size but is quicker and less apt to make a bad mistake with the puck. He won't bring too much in the way of offense, but is not going to be a liability with the puck either.

    Nikitin's most recent contract with Columbus paid him $2.15 million per year, and if the Flyers could get away paying him $2.75 million per season, that'd be a risk worth taking.

Justin Schultz, D (RFA)

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    While we're talking wish lists here, might as well shoot for the stars, right? Justin Schultz is a restricted free agent and has little chance of leaving Edmonton, but what a get he would be.

    At 23 years old, Schultz is one of the premier young offensive defensemen in the NHL. Some may remember him from the frenzy that came with his odd entry into the NHL two years ago, when he was able to sign with any team because of some strange league rules.

    The Oilers were the big winners back then, but they don't seem to be getting any better on the ice and Schultz may be regretting his decision to sign there.

    If a big-name team like the Flyers come knocking with an offer sheet of over $5 million, Edmonton would be in a rough situation.

    It's not likely, but we know the Flyers aren't opposed to moves like this after the whole Shea Weber situation.


    Salary information courtesy of CapGeek.com.