One day after avoiding an arbitration ruling for key forward Brayden Schenn, the Flyers did the same to a defenseman on Tuesday. Brandon Manning, another restricted free agent, was given a two year contract worth $1.95 million.
While the signing of Manning isn’t as impactful as the other moves that the Flyers have made this offseason, it does help the perceived shape of the roster come into form. The team now stands at 49 of 50 contracts with about $1 million in cap space, so the roster appears to be set barring exceptional training camps from young prospects like Ivan Provorov or Travis Konecney.
As it relates to his place in the lineup Manning, 26, might be the odd one out of many nights. He is one of seven defensemen signed for next year: Shayne Gostisbehere, Andrew MacDonald, Michael Del Zotto, Mark Streit, Radko Gudas, and Nick Schultz. One of them will be in the press box and this doesn’t even account for the possibility of Ivan Provorov blowing the team away in training camp and forcing his way onto the NHL roster.
Manning has been with the Flyers organization for six years now but only stuck with the NHL team for an extended period of time this past season, which did include his first NHL goal against the New York Islanders. While he has played over 240 games for the team’s AHL affiliate Leigh Valley Phantoms, Manning doesn’t appear to be more than a serviceable bottom paring defenseman in the NHL. He has just 12 points in 77 career NHL games. For the Flyers, he can fill the void in case of an injury or replace other blue liners on the second game of back to back nights. He could also represent a cheap depth option for the Las Vegas franchise in the forthcoming expansion draft, although there will likely be better options than Manning available.
Within the coming years, the Flyers would ideally like to move on from the contracts of Mark Streit (one year left) and Andrew MacDonald (four years left) in order to make room for their gluttony of defensive talent on the way. Should a trade ever arise for either of those two players, the Flyers have an NHL caliber defenseman in Brandon Manning who can step into the lineup.