Flames, Flyers among losers in NHL free agency

Justin Cuthbert runs down the teams licking their wounds after the first 24 hours of free agency.

Video Transcript

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: OK, let's do losers. We don't have to belabor the point. I think we know which teams are licking their wounds today, and Calgary, of course, is the first. As I mentioned, Gaudreau decision to leave the Flames carries with it more consequence, maybe for Calgary than it does Columbus.

With him, the Flames were a Stanley Cup contender. Without him, it might all crash beneath them. Like I said, they're in a situation now like Columbus was in, and they haven't carved out the firm direction after losing a player that they devoted all their resources to signing. everything

All their energy in the last few weeks has been in trying-- has been devoted to trying to keep Johnny Gaudreau. And when that is suddenly not possible, it feels as though you just don't have-- you're lost. You're lost at sea.

And that was illustrated, I think, in the fact that they didn't make a single move that moved the needle or that would move the needle on the opening day of free agency. They just kind of sat there licking their wounds, and that's, again, understandable. But compounding the issue, a tricky negotiation with Matthew Tkachuk looms.

I wonder how he feels about things. Like, I think I have a pretty good idea. I wonder how guys like Jacob Markstrom and Blake Coleman think of the situation after they just signed long term deals in free agency to come play with Gaudreau. Like, this could all really become an untenable situation quickly here for Calgary, and I wonder if Matthew Tkachuk is the first domino sent down following Gaudreau in what could be a full out rebuild, which sucks because Calgary showed so much promise last season as a fully formed entity, really, I think, for the first time in a long time.

Florida Panthers-- pretty bad day as well. They saw the two assets that they picked up for first round picks last year just walk away for free, Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot. They saw their breakout star, one of the big stories for them last season, Mason Marchment, leave on a four year deal with the Dallas Stars.

They've lost just as much as anyone when comparing their future roster to what they had last season. And unfortunately, this serves as like a cautionary tale. The Panthers' aggressive nature over the last few seasons, it appears as though it's caught up to them.

And now they stand to bring back a diminished roster because they tried to build it up too quickly, at least it seems. They did attempt to gain some goodwill by signing Marc Staal to a one year deal and inviting his brother Eric, who might go to the Hall of Fame one day, just represented Canada at the Olympics this past year, to a tryout agreement. That may or may not work. That may or may not have a Joe Thornton-like effect if there even was one last year when the 43-year-old, I think, joined them after a stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs. But I do know that those two players won't replace what was lost in one of the worst opening periods to free agency leaguewide. Florida certainly became a far worse team, and after winning the Presidents Trophy, 122 points, winning the Atlantic division, probably the best division in hockey, they stand to take a significant step back.

And the biggest loser, I think, is the Philadelphia Flyers, and that's not just because what they've done over the last 24 hours or what they couldn't do over the last 24 hours. It's because it's really become sad what's become of the franchise. The fact that Johnny Gaudreau, probably pegged-- like, if we were going to pick a lead candidate for Gaudreau-- and this is speculative. But even before what happened over the last couple of days, if he was going to leave Calgary one day, we all had Philly top of mind.

Tip of the tongue, Philadelphia Flyers, the team he grew up cheering for. He's a New Jersey native, but I think he's closer to the Flyers than he is the Devils at least in terms of proximity. But it doesn't matter. He was a Philly guy, and we expected, hey, he might go play with Kevin Hayes.

That would be a lovely story. But this team just couldn't get involved, and they admitted that they weren't involved in the Johnny Gaudreau sweepstakes not because they weren't interested. How could Philly not be interested in Johnny Gaudreau?

They were. They just weren't able to clear enough cap room to even get involved. They weren't able to get out from underneath the James Van Riemsdyk contract.

But what hurts them the most is that the money that they were able to alleviate from their system came with the buyout of one of the few inspirational stories that we've seen from them and an inspirational story on its own in cancer survivor Oskar Lindblom, the buyout of that contract. And yet they used that money, the freed up cash from a controversial move, to bring in the far from inspiring Tony DeAngelo, who's one of the league's most significant problem children and then to lose out on Johnny Gaudreau or to not even be able to get involved. I mean, that's just a series of terrible decisions and poor optics over and over and over again.

And this has just turned out to be the norm now for the Philadelphia Flyers. This is a brutal off-season for them. The last few offseasons have been brutal for them. It's just not working with the current mindset, the current management team, and the current way of doing things. And as I mentioned before, it is a bit sad.

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