The Flyers Defensive Bridge

Thursday afternoon Michael Del Zotto signed a contract extension and avoided arbitration. The extension is for 2 years worth $7.75 million. Del Zotto had a minor career revival in his first season in Philadelphia. After struggling to find a regular roster spot with Craig Berube at the helm, Del Zotto found success as one of the better defensemen on the Flyers later in the season.

 

 

Everyone expected Del Zotto to re-sign in Philly, but for some the process took longer than expected. While General Manager Ron Hextall worked on securing some 3rd and 4th line talent, talks with MDZ dragged on. Finally, a short-term deal was worked out and it gives us an idea of Hextall’s timetable for when the Flyers can start being real competitors again. Right now, five Flyers defensemen are on short term contracts; three are 2-year contracts and two are still signed for one more season. Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto, and Nick Schultz are on two-year bridge deals. Luke Schenn has one year left on his contract and newly signed Yevgeny Medvedev is on a one year deal. With the exception of Andrew MacDonald’s dead weight contract, all of the Flyers defense seems a bit temporary. Last season’s best four defensemen are on bridge deals and none of them are a definite to get any more extensions after that.

Two-Year Contracts:

By the time his contract is up, Streit will be 39 and probably on his way to retirement; if he’s still here by the end of that deal. There’s a chance Hextall isn’t done trading and Streit could still get a good return. Del Zotto has the potential to return to the lineup and get a longer contract if he proves that his comeback season wasn’t just a fluke. If he can keep playing at the same level as last season or better, MDZ could be in Philly for a while. There’s also the chance that he gets traded. If he stays at relatively the same level and doesn’t improve, Hextall very well could decide to trade him for more building blocks. Nick Schultz should definitely be gone at the end of his contract unless he improves. Hextall may have jumped the gun with Schultz, believing that he was a better talent than he turned out to be. Schultz’s extension was reminiscent of the MacDonald extension, but luckily it wasn’t as long and dumb of a contract. Despite not living up to the quick extension Hextall gave him, Schultz was one of the better defensemen, just not the top of the lineup.

One-Year Contracts:

Luke Schenn has been the subject of trade rumors for years now. With Hextall’s moves this offseason, it wouldn’t be surprising if he managed to trade Schenn at the last minute before the season started. Schenn will either be traded at the trade deadline or let loose into free agency.

Yevgeny Medvedev is an unknown. He’s been decent in the KHL and should be a good addition to the Flyers blue line if he can adjust to the NHL style well. If he does well, there are two ways the Flyers could deal with Medvedev:  They could decide to trade him at the deadline for something (probably draft picks), or they could re-sign him to an extension and have him be part of the new defense.

Also on the roster on one-year deals are Radko Gudas and Brandon Manning. Gudas came over in the Braydon Coburn trade and may or may not get a regular spot in the lineup. Gudas probably won’t be back next season. Manning hasn’t 100% secured an NHL roster spot mostly because of the excessive number of defensemen already signed. Hextall will probably send him back to the AHL if there’s room.

 What it means for the Prospects:

Since he took over as GM, Hextall has made it known that his plan for building a Philadelphia Dynasty is to build from within and to be patient with the prospects that get drafted; particularly the defense. Right now the Flyers have a few defensive prospects like Ivan Provorov that are supposedly NHL ready for this season. Hextall has stayed true to his word and kept all of the D prospects in minor leagues or with the Phantoms to develop.

Some are developing faster than others and may be ready for a shot at the NHL roster. With these one year deals either expiring or being traded away, Hextall may plan to have two or more prospects enter the lineup with MDZ, Streit and Schultz to help them adjust to the NHL completely until they are able to help the rest of the prospects. Of course, there’s also Andrew MacDonald taking up a roster space.

This season the Defense will probably look like this: Macdonald, MDZ, Streit, Schultz, Medvedev, Schenn. (Gudas)

Next season will be without Schenn and Gudas, and possibly Medvedev: Macdonald, Streit, MDZ, Schultz as the definite four the last two spots could end up as 1. Medvedev, Provorov or 2. Provorov, Morin.

By then all the bridge contracts will be done with only MDZ and Medvedev possibly staying on longer which will result in a defense like this: MacDonald, MDZ, Medvedev, Provorov, Morin, Ghostisbehere/Sanheim. This will be the first year that we see the Flyers real defense start to blossom. Hopefully over the next year or so, Hextall can manage to get rid of MacDonald and open up another spot for either a talented veteran or another prospect if he feels they’re ready. We’re looking at around two years until we see a real, competent defense in Philadelphia.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “The Flyers Defensive Bridge

  1. Pingback: Jake Voracek extension signed | Evening the Score

  2. Pingback: Jake Voracek signs contract extension | Corner Pub Sports

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