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Philadelphia Flyers Best and Worst Free Agent Signings

Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s 2022 summer series, exploring the best and worst free agent signings for each NHL team of the post-lockout, salary cap era. With this past offseason seeing some big splashes (and potential gambles) like Johnny GaudreauClaude GirouxJohn Klingberg, and others, it’s time to take a look at how teams have boosted and stunted their progress in recent history. Today, we take a look at the Philadelphia Flyers free agent signings history.

Philadelphia Flyers Free Agent Hits and Misses

Best Signing: Daniel Briere

The Flyers signed Daniel Briere to an eight-year $52 million dollar contract in 2006. Briere was coming off a successful stint with the Buffalo Sabres, including a 32-goal, 92-point season in his final year in Buffalo. While Briere would never match that production he was incredibly valuable to the Flyers during his tenure. While his production dipped in his first year, he still notched 31 goals. Still, in Briere’s first season the Flyers went from last to first in their division and went on a run to the Eastern Conference Final. In the playoffs, Briere scored nine goals and 16 points in 17 games.

Briere’s playoff success is what makes him the best of the Philadelphia Flyers free agent signings. He constantly showed up in the biggest moments. In 68 playoff games with the Flyers, Briere scored 37 goals and 72 points. That includes leading the playoffs in scoring in 2009-10. He netted 12 goals and 30 points in 23 games on the Flyers run to the Stanley Cup Final.

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In his time with the Flyers Briere played in 364 games over six seasons and scored 124 goals and 283 points. Briere was bought out of the final two years of his contract in 2013. Even with being bought out, Briere’s contributions to the Flyers can’t be overstated. He is by far the best Flyers signing in the cap era.

Honourable Mentions: Mike Knuble

Mike Knuble was a bit of a risk when the Flyers signed him. He was 33 years old when he signed and was coming off his (by far) two best statistical seasons of his career. Prior to his 30-goal 59-point outburst in 2002-03, his previous high was 15 goals and 39 points in 1998-99. In the three previous seasons before his 30-goal season, Knuble scored 18 goals total.

He followed up his 30-goal season with a 21-goal 46-point season in what would be his last with the Boston Bruins. There was a risk that Knuble just had his (by far) two best seasons and could not match that production. Still, coming out of the 2005 lockout, the Flyers signed Knuble to a two-year $5.6 million dollar contract. Knuble was slotted on a line with Simone Gagner and Peter Forsberg and responded with his best year ever. He scored 34 goals and 65 points in his first year with the Flyers. He followed it up with a 24-goal 54-point season. Knuble proved to be well worth his contract.

Knuble would stay with the Flyers for two more seasons and he continued his strong play. In those two years, he scored a total of 56 goals and 102 points. Signing Knuble was one of the most shrewd Philadelphia Flyers free agent signings ever.

Worst Signing: Vincent Lecavalier

Vincent Lecavalier was the longest-serving player in Tampa Bay Lightning history, playing 14 seasons with the club that selected him first overall in the 1998 draft. He was the face of the franchise. In 1,037 games he scored 383 goals and 874 points for the Lightning. He was a key member of their 2004 Stanley Cup winning team. Unfortunately in the salary cap era, there do not tend to be storybook endings to careers. After signing Lecavalier to an 11-year $85 million dollar contract in 2008, Tampa had to say goodbye to their star player. Lecavalier had his contract bought out in 2013.

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For the first time in his career, Lecavalier was a free agent. He didn’t stay a free agent for long as the Flyers signed him to a five-year $22.5 million dollar contract. While Lecavalier’s production was dropping some, he was still a reliable 20-goal scorer in the league. In his first year with the Flyers, Lecavalier scored 20 goals and 37 points. Pretty good value for a player earning $4.5 million annually.

Unfortunately, that’s where the good news stops. The following year, Lecavalier’s production plummeted. He only scored eight goals and 20 points. Things went so poorly that Lecavalier was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. Seven games into the 2015-16 season, Lecavalier was traded to the Los Angeles Kings to get his salary off the Flyers books. Not wanting to be saddled with the contract as well, the Kings insisted on a provision in the deal that Lecavalier had to retire at the end of the season.

Honourable Mention: Dale Weise

Dale Weise was a solid role player in the NHL. He provided a physical presence and could chip in the odd goal here and there. While Wiese has value, for some reason the Flyers decided to sign Weise to a four-year $9.4 million dollar contract. While a $2.350 AAV is not the end of the world, it was still expensive for what Weise brings to the table. Unfortunately for the Flyers, he brought even less.

The Flyers were hoping to get the Wiese that had been with the Montreal Canadiens. His last two seasons in Montreal were the two best years of his career. In 2014-15 he scored 10 goals and 29 points. The following year he scored 14 goals and 26 points (through 56 games) before being traded to Chicago at the deadline. Sometimes it’s about being in the right place at the right time. For Weise that was being on those Habs teams.

In Chicago, Weise only notched one assist during the final 15 games of the season. Still, the Flyers were hoping Weise’s dip in production was just a blip. It wasn’t. In the first three seasons with the Flyers, Wiese scored 19 goals and 34 points total. Weise ended up being demoted to the Flyers AHL affiliate.


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