Flyers 2018 Free-agent Target: C Riley Nash

Each day until July 1, the day NHL free agency begins, NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Boruk, Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall will analyze some of the league's impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.

Over time, general manager Ron Hextall has freed his club from its salary cap dungeon, setting the Flyers up with greater financial flexibility this offseason. The team has $21.7 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly.com.

As the Flyers look to take a step forward in 2018-19, free agency will provide Hextall an avenue to fill specific holes and supplement his mix of veterans and youth. While the team hasn't been major players on the market under Hextall in the past, the GM indicated earlier this month the Flyers could be active this summer.

Hextall said the Flyers wouldn't entertain a seven-year contract on a free agent, but he expressed a desire to add a veteran or two depending on the term.

With that said, let's look at some possible fits and how/if they make sense for the Flyers.

Riley Nash

Age: 29
Position: C
Height: 6-1
Weight: 197
Last team: Bruins
2017-18 cap hit: $900,000
 
Boruk
I don't know what to make of Nash's 2017-18 season. He registered a career year, scoring 15 goals to go along with 41 points. You see it often where a player performs during a contract year and then regresses after a team pumps up his tires with a new contract.

Clearly, Nash isn't the player he was projected to be when he was selected in the first round (21st overall) by the Oilers, who then traded his rights to the Hurricanes. Carolina allowed Nash to walk after six seasons.

Prior to this past season, Nash could be labeled only as a solid checking center and above average defensively, while capable of killing penalties with the occasional offensive contribution, having never topped 25 points. His role was minimized during the playoffs as the Bruins lost their edge in the series against the Lightning.

Nash is definitely not a player I'd target heading into July 1, and I think the Flyers should tread carefully, especially considering the four-year term they gave to Dale Weise, who's a bottom-six forward and not a player you can successfully move up and down the lineup.

Nash doesn't appear to be that type of player either. Think short term in the neighborhood of two years for a third/fourth-line center that may not be the same player we saw with the Bruins last season.

Dougherty
The concern with Nash is how much will he cash in on his career season in 2017-18 with Boston, and it will be interesting to see how the market plays out for the 29-year-old.

Nash had a 24-point jump in his second season with the Bruins and he played in five fewer games than his first season in Boston. How much of that were the players around him and the situation he was in we'll soon find out should Nash sign elsewhere.

As John mentioned, with these type of players, you have to be careful when they reach free agency. Nash will be looking for a raise from his $900,000 annual average value, and rightfully so. You figure a team in need of a third-line checking center such as the Flyers will pay him.

The term is what's concerning. You don't want to hand Nash a four-year contract and be stuck with a player who regresses each season. The 2017-18 season very well may be an outlier for Nash. We don't know yet. But he does bring qualities the Flyers are looking for.

He's a veteran and he kills penalties. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said earlier this offseason he wants to add a penalty-killing forward, so you figure Nash will be a guy he reaches out to. On the short term, I'd be OK with Nash. Anything more than three years, run away. Fast.

Hall
Nash set himself up for a pay raise and is likely looking to cash in on the best year of his career.

He made just $900,000 in each of the past two seasons with the Bruins. He turned into a bargain by setting personal bests across the board in 2017-18, posting 15 goals, 26 assists, 41 points and a plus-16 rating in 76 regular-season games.

Some of his strengths are needs for the Flyers.

Nash, 29, plays on the penalty kill, is reliable in the faceoff circle and is mostly a third-line center but can move up and down, complementing different players.

The Flyers would be wise to check in on Nash and get a vibe of his asking price.

More on free agency

Ron Hextall: Flyers wanted in on John Tavares

• How should the Flyers approach free agency?

A prototypical Flyers defenseman in free agency

• Flyers want to upgrade top 4 - de Haan the guy?

• Bozak an option for Flyers' ideal 3rd-line center

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