Depth, depth, depth.
Chuck Fletcher and the Philadelphia Flyers stressed the importance of organizational depth on Day 1 of NHL Free Agency.
The Flyers signed eight players, all of which are expected to spend most (if not all) of the season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the AHL.
“We signed eight players to help bolster our depth both in Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley. Several of these players will probably move back and forth between Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley,” Fletcher said.
“One of the important things we were hoping to do was to provide a solid veteran cast of players to surround our talented young players that are starting their professional journey down in Lehigh Valley this year. We feel we’ve added a lot of good hockey players, a lot of quality people. Clearly, the depth of our organization is much better right now.”
While the rest of the league was focused on improving their NHL roster — which Fletcher focused on in June — the Flyers bolstered their foundation to help build a winning organization.
Let’s take a look at all eight signings with some information from the official press releases.
Andy Andreoff, 28, agreed to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $750,000.
The 6-1, 203-lb left wing spent the 2018-19 season with the Syracuse Crunch, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he scored 26 goals and added 29 assists in 75 regular-season games, along with 150 PIM.
He added four goals and an assist in 12 playoff games. Andreoff has appeared in 159 NHL games with the Los Angeles Kings over parts of four seasons, scoring 13 goals and adding 11 assists for 24 points.
Kurtis Gabriel, 26, agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with an average annual value of $700,000.
A 6-foot-4, 200-lb right wing, Gabriel spent the 2018-19 season with the New Jersey Devils, splitting the campaign between New Jersey and its AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Devils.
His name might be recognizable as the player who was suspended for boarding Nolan Patrick and also sparked some great moments with Patrick and Travis Konecny in a game late last season.
Gabriel had two goals and two assists for four points in 22 NHL games and two goals and four assists for six points in 32 AHL games. Gabriel has appeared in 38 NHL games in parts of three seasons for New Jersey and Minnesota, picking up two goals and three assists for five points.
In 264 career AHL games with Binghamton and Iowa, Gabriel has 28 goals and 26 assists for 54 points, along with 416 PIM. He has previous ties to Fletcher as he was drafted by Minnesota in the third round (81st overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Nate Prosser, 33, has agreed to a two-year, two-way contract with an average annual value of $700,000.
A 6-foot-2, 201-lb defenseman, Prosser comes to the Flyers from the Minnesota Wild organization, where he split the 2018-19 season between the NHL club and its American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild.
This is another player with strong ties to Fletcher and Co.
Prosser has played 353 games for the Wild over parts of 10 seasons since signing with the team as a free agent in 2010, gathering 10 goals and 37 assists for 47 points. In 127 career AHL games with Iowa and Houston, he has nine goals and 30 assists for 39 points.
Prosser provides a veteran presence to the Phantoms’ blue line.
Andy Welinski, 26, agreed to a one-year contract with an average annual value of $750,000.
A 6-foot-1, 201-lb defenseman, Welinski comes to the Flyers from the Anaheim Ducks organization, where he has split the last two seasons between Anaheim and their American Hockey League affiliate, the San Diego Gulls.
Welinski had a goal and three assists while averaging 16:02 of ice time in 26 games with Anaheim, while scoring eight goals and adding 11 assists for 19 points in 27 games with San Diego. I
n 33 career NHL games, he has a goal and five assists for eight points; over 146 AHL games, all with San Diego, he has 24 goals and 59 assists for 83 points.
Tyler Wotherspoon, 26 (3/12/1993), has agreed to a two-year, two-way contract with an average annual value of $700,000.
A 6-foot-2, 225-lb defenseman, Wotherspoon spent the 2018-19 season with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, where he had four goals and 18 assists for 22 points in 70 games.
Wotherspoon has appeared in 30 NHL games over parts of four seasons with the Calgary Flames, picking up five assists. In 355 career AHL games, he has scored 22 goals and 98 assists for 120 points with a career plus-59 rating.
J-F Berube, 27, has agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with an average annual value of $700,000.
The 6-foot-1, 177-lb goaltender spent the 2018-19 season with the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters, where he went 21-22-0 with a 3.01 GAA and a .896 GAA in 43 appearances.
Berube has appeared in 34 NHL games over parts of three seasons with the New York Islanders and Chicago Blackhawks, going 9-10-4 with a 3.39 GAA and a .898 save percentage.
In 168 career AHL games, Berube has a 99-55-9 record with a 2.48 GAA and a .909 save percentage and helped the Manchester Monarchs win the Calder Cup in 2015 with a 13-3 playoff record in 17 appearances.
Berube gives the Phantoms a veteran goalie to split time with Alex Lyon and also Felix Sandstrom.
Chris Bigras, 24, has agreed to two-year, two-way contract with an average annual value of $700,000.
The 6-foot-1, 190-lb defenseman appeared in 54 games for the American Hockey League’s Hartford Wolf Pack last season, picking up three goals and adding 19 assists for 22 points.
Bigras has played 46 NHL games over parts of two seasons with Colorado, during which time he averaged 13:31 of ice time per game with a goal and three assists. In 179 career AHL games, Bigras has 17 goals and 66 assists for 83 points.
Kyle Criscuolo, 27, has agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with an average annual value of $700,000.
A 5-foot-8, 170-lb center, Criscuolo had six goals and 14 assists for 20 points in 43 games with Rochester of the AHL last season. A
native of Southampton Township in Burlington County, NJ, Criscuolo played for the Flyers Quebec Pee Wee team in 2005, and later participated in the Flyers Cup while attending St. Joseph’s Prep.
Criscuolo signed an AHL contract with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2016 after a four-year career at Harvard University. He scored 17 goals and added 24 assists for 41 points in 76 games in his first professional season, which earned him an NHL contract with Buffalo.
He appeared in nine NHL games with the Sabres in 2017-18.
In 174 career AHL games, Criscuolo has 38 goals and 57 assists for 95 points.