A change in routine is always strange at first. Year after year, the Philadelphia Flyers were always big players in the free agent market. Now, three years into Ron Hextall‘s tenure as general manager, it’s no longer strange for the Flyers to take a back seat and let the other teams battle it out.
As of the writing of this post, the Orange and Black have $11.9 million in cap space. Let’s operate under the assumption that the Flyers will sign Brayden Schenn to a deal that pays him $5 million per season. That will leave Hextall with just under $7 million to spend. Should the Flyers’ restricted free agents sign to their qualifying offers, that squeezes the gap to around $4.6 million.
Ryan White is the lone free agent who is likely to be back, which leaves one void in the Flyers’ lineup: the left wing on the third line.
There are plenty of cheap options Hextall could use to plug that hole. One candidate could be Brandon Pirri.
Pirri, 25, is a versatile forward who can play left wing and center. He will become an unrestricted free agent after his former team, the Anaheim Ducks, did not extend a qualifying offer to him.
Pirri scored 14 goals and racked up 29 points in 61 games last season for the Ducks and Florida Panthers. The former traded him at the deadline.
Pirri isn’t a game breaker, nor is he going to help this team becomes a contender overnight. His individual possession numbers are not staggering. He posted a 48.2 CorsiFor last season despite starting 52.8% of his shifts in the offensive zone. His total CorsiRel sat at -0.6, but his -2.4 CorsiRel in Anaheim could have been due to picking up a new system. However, he could fit in as a nice stop gap until the prospects are ready for NHL action.
Scouting reports on Pirri compliment his wealth of skill & shooting ability who can set up his linemates and finish plays. The natural center shoots often and became a 20-goal scorer in Florida when the team moved him to the wing.
Although Pirri does fire the puck often, he is a streaky scorer who lacks consistency and needs to add some bulk according to The Hockey News. Back in 2014, a Blackhawks blog mentioned his skating is a “notch below where it needs to be to play 200-foot shifts.” Pirri’s skating could be why the Panthers moved him to the wing.
The chart above shows Pirri could be a decent fit for the third line. His possession numbers leave a little to be desired, but his pension to shoot the puck could generate some offense.
Pirri’s short-lived 2015-16 season could help the Flyers if they enter negotiations. Had Pirri continued his scoring clip from last season, he would have totaled 18 goals and 38 points. Both of those numbers would have been career-highs for him. Looking at previous deals, the Flyers could ink Pirri to a two or three-year extension worth $2 to $2.5 million per season. He’s just hitting the prime of his career, and if he can consistently notch 40 points a season, he’ll be well worth the investment.
The Orange Update (June 17th)
We preview the NHL Draft and what the Flyers might do with the 18th pick, how the last few drafts have gone, the confidence in Ron Hextall heading into his third draft and the RJ Umberger buyout.
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