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Team Reset

Flyers seek impact from Hayes at center, Vigneault as coach

Also add Niskanen, Braun on defense in bid to solidify lineup, qualify for postseason

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Philadelphia Flyers:

The Philadelphia Flyers moved quickly to fill needs on their roster, adding center Kevin Hayes and right-shot defensemen Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun, and re-signing goalie Brian Elliott well before the start of NHL free agency July 1.

"We felt our priorities were adding a No. 2 center, adding a couple of quality defensemen and finding a goaltender to play with Carter Hart," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said. "In a market where there weren't a lot of players, we felt if we could get ahead of it and get the guys we wanted, that would be a smart thing to do."


[RELATED: Complete Team Reset Coverage]


The moves give new coach Alain Vigneault, hired April 15 to replace Scott Gordon, some interesting options in building Philadelphia's lineup this season.

The biggest splash was made when Hayes signed a seven-year contract on June 19 after being acquired in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets on June 3. 

"He checks a lot of boxes we're looking for," Fletcher said of the 27-year-old. "We like his size (6-foot-5, 216 pounds). We like his skill. We like his 200-foot game. We like his age. He's entering the prime of his career. He plays a premium position at center. We think he really rounds out our forward group."

Video: What are the Flyers' remaining needs this offseason?

Hayes said his relationship with Vigneault, who coached him for four seasons with the New York Rangers (2014-18), was a determining reason in him signing rather than opting to become an unrestricted free agent.

"We had a great relationship on and off the ice," Hayes said. "He demands hard work. If you play the correct way he kind of lets you play freely offensively. That was a huge factor in the decision."

Niskanen was acquired in a trade with the Washington Capitals for defenseman Radko Gudas on June 14, and Braun was acquired in a trade with the San Jose Sharks for two draft picks on June 18.

Fletcher said he's excited to see how Vigneault integrates the new players with the holdovers from a team that finished 16 points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

"We have a new coaching staff, we have a lot of new players and let things sort out in camp," he said.

Here is what the Flyers look like today:


Key arrivals

Alain Vigneault, coach: The 58-year-old did not coach last season after being fired by the Rangers at the end of the 2017-18 season. His 648 NHL wins are fifth among active coaches, behind Joel Quenneville (890), Barry Trotz (810), Paul Maurice (695) and Mike Babcock (691). … Kevin Hayes, F: He had an NHL career-high 55 points (19 goals, 36 assists) in 71 games with the Rangers and Jets last season. … Matt Niskanen, D: The 32-year-old was second on the Capitals last season averaging 21:56 of ice time in 80 games and had 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists). … Justin Braun, D: The 32-year-old had 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 78 games with the Sharks. … Tyler Pitlick, F: The 27-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Dallas Stars for forward Ryan Hartman on June 24. He had 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in 47 games.

Video: Braun talks expectations, joining Flyers with Hayes


Key departures

Scott Gordon, coach: Hired Dec. 17 to replace Dave Hakstol, Gordon went 22-25-4. The 56-year-old returned to his previous job as coach of Lehigh Valley in the American Hockey League. … Radko Gudas, D: The 29-year-old had 20 points (four goals, 16 assists) in 77 games. … Ryan Hartman, F: The 24-year-old had six points (two goals, four assists) in 19 games after being acquired in a trade with the Nashville Predators on Feb. 25. … Cam Talbot, G: The 31-year-old signed a one-year contract with the Calgary Flames on July 1. He went 1-2-0 with a 3.70 GAA and .881 save percentage in four games with Philadelphia after being acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 15.  … Andrew MacDonald, D: The 32-year-old had the final season of his contract bought out June 15. He had nine assists in 47 games.


On the cusp

Joel Farabee, F: Selected with the No. 14 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the 19-year-old signed his entry-level contract March 25 after he had 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 37 games at Boston University. He could push for a third-line NHL spot. … Morgan Frost, F: The No. 27 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, the 20-year-old had 109 points (37 goals, 72 assists) in 58 games with Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League. He could compete for a bottom-six spot. … Philippe Myers, D: The 22-year-old is ready for full-time NHL duty after he had two points (one goal, one assist) in 21 games last season.


What they still need

A third-line right wing. Among those competing for the spot will be Farabee, Frost, Andy Andreoff (who signed a two-year-contract July 1) and Nicolas Aube-Kubel, who played nine NHL games last season and had 30 points (16 goals, 14 assists) in 54 games with Lehigh Valley.


Fantasy focus

Hayes, who had his most productive NHL season offensively last season, could have an even higher ceiling if he skates with valuable forwards James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek on the second line. The addition of Hayes negatively affects the value of center Nolan Patrick, the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, but should improve the Flyers' overall outlook for 2019-20. -- Rob Reese


Projected lineup

Claude Giroux -- Sean Couturier -- Travis Konecny

James van Riemsdyk -- Kevin Hayes -- Jakub Voracek

Oskar Lindblom -- Nolan Patrick -- Andy Andreoff

Michael Raffl -- Scott Laughton -- Tyler Pitlick

Ivan Provorov -- Matt Niskanen

Travis Sanheim -- Philippe Myers

Shayne Gostisbehere -- Justin Braun

Carter Hart

Brian Elliott


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