RW Jason Akeson (1 year, two-way, $575K)
This was really a no-brainer for Ron Hextall and Co. Akeson has been a stud for the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, leading the team in scoring for three straight years. Just this past season, he racked up 24 goals and 40 assists for the Phantoms before joining the Flyers for their playoff series against New York. He was by far and away the team’s most consistent winger offensively, racking up two goals and an assist in the seven-game set. Akeson was relatively fast to begin with, and his skating ability has improved since signing a three-year deal with the Flyers in 2010, making him a good fit for what the team is trying to accomplish going forward.
G Ray Emery (1 year, one-way, $1 million)
After a relatively solid year as Steve Mason’s backup for the Flyers, Ray Emery signed his sixth consecutive one-year deal to remain with the team for this upcoming season. This is another solid move by Ron Hextall, as he was able to get Emery to take a $650K paycut to come back to Philadelphia. He provides solid depth for Mason, having posted a .903 save percentage this past year.
D Nick Schultz (1 year, one-way, $1.25 million)
The Flyers got their defensive depth in the form of Schultz, a 31-year old blueliner who split time last season between Columbus and Edmonton. He will serve a similar function as Erik Gustafsson did last year, sitting in the press box for most games, but with Gus headed to the KHL for at least one year, having Schultz in that spot is not a bad alternative. He is a good skater and a hard-nosed defender, which is all you really need out of your seventh defenseman.
C Blair Jones (1 year, two-way, unknown amount)
Jones brings forward depth to the organization, and will likely start out at Lehigh Valley. He played just 14 NHL games last season, scoring 2 goals, but had 17 goals and 21 assists in 38 AHL games for Calgary’s affiliate. He is a solid two-way forward who will likely be called up only in case of emergency (i.e. injuries).
G Rob Zepp (1 year, AHL, $600K)
The Flyers signed Zepp to back up and split time with goalie prospect Anthony Stolarz, who made the move from the OHL to AHL this offseason. Zepp has played for Eisbaren Berlin for the past few years, teaming up with Claude Giroux and Danny Briere, both Flyers centers at the time, during the lockout.
RW Andrew Gordon (1 year, two-way, unknown amount)
Hextall bolstered the Phantoms’ front line with yet another elite AHL offensive player, Gordon, who has 149 goals and 175 assists in 426 career AHL games. Gordon is a really fast skater, yet another sign of Hextall’s vision for the organization’s future.
Like Jones, he is likely to don a Flyers uniform only if the Orange and Black suffer a rash of injuries up front.
RW Zack Stortini (1 year, two-way, unknown amount)
Stortini was the AHL’s penalty minutes leader last season, and now he’s a Flyer. Coincidence?
All kidding aside, Stortini will likely serve the role of enforcer for the Phantoms this season. Another low-key move by Hextall to potentially bolster the team’s AHL affiliate with the hope of encouraging and nurturing the development of guys like Stolarz and former 3rd-round pick Shayne Gostisbehere.
LW Scott Hartnell to Columbus for LW/C RJ Umberger/2015 4th-round pick
At first, this move was a complete head-scratcher, and while it still is not an obvious move on the surface, it does make sense in context: and by “in context,” I mean Hextall’s current plans for the organization. While Hartnell has done some good things in his Flyers career, including two 60-point seasons in 2008-2009 and 2011-2012, it had become clear that he was not contributing enough on a line with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek. Umberger could be a better complementary piece to those two or can be shifted to several positions on the depth chart due to his versatility.
This move also ameliorates the team’s long-term cap situation because Umberger’s contract is two years shorter and it helps Hextall stockpile draft picks for next year.
LW Tye McGinn to San Jose for 2015 3rd-round pick
Just like the aforementioned Hartnell, McGinn is a power forward with some goal-scoring ability who just did not have a spot on the Flyers. With Hartnell (now likely Umberger), Brayden Schenn, Michael Raffl, and now Bellomare having blocked his chance to earn extended NHL minutes in Philadelphia, McGinn likely did not accept the team’s offer sheet and so Hextall went out and got something of value for him. This is a savvy move by the Flyers’ new General Manager.