The Philadelphia Flyers have made two moves since the week began — and they’ve both addressed needs that the team identified at the end of their last season.
First, the club brought in highly touted NCAA head coach Dave Hakstol to fill the vacancy left behind by Craig Berube — and while he doesn’t have the NHL experience most head coaches walk into the position with, he does have one of the longest-running top-ranked records in college hockey. He’s a long-term move, suggesting that the team is invested in seeing the coach grow with his team moving forward.
They then made another unique — but likely clever — move for the club; 32-year old Yevgeni Medvedev was brought in from the KHL, following a 16 point season with the Kazan Ak-Bears of the KHL.
Standing at 6 foot 3 and 187 lbs, Medvedev is tall and athletic; he’s not a particularly prolific scorer, but he’s neither slow nor a shut-down blue liner, and he’s got the veteran experience needed on the blue line to provide a low-risk, high-reward option in one of the weakest free agent classes in recent years. Per Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, the deal will span just the one season, paying Medvedev $3 million on a one-way deal; that’s far from cheap, but likely a better deal than many teams will see on pending free agents like Mike Green, Zbynek Michalek, and Andrej Sekera.
What does that make the deal?
For Ron Hextall, it’s a smart move in relation to the rest of the league — but in relation to the Flyers itself and as a stand-alone deal, it’s almost certainly an overpayment. Without a trade for either Michael Del Zotto (a pending RFA who won’t come any cheaper than he does already) or a buyout of one of the club’s pricier veteran blue liners (someone like Andrew MacDonald or Mark Streit, who make $5 million AAV and $5.25 million AAV, respectively), the club won’t just be financially swollen on the back end — they’ll almost certainly be over the salary cap. This could mean that one of the aforementioned moves in imminent, though, and that’s yet another step in the right direction for the Flyers.
With one of the league’s most ill-fitting blue lines in the last season, the Flyers needed to do something — and while this is a very ‘go big or go home’ kind of signing, it could be as smart as the Hakstol hiring just days earlier.