Lyubimov Could be Headed Back to the KHL

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Photo by Heather Barry

With a number of young prospects set to challenge for spots on the Flyers roster next season, it only makes sense that they would be losing some players that might not be needed. A few spots are opening up on the defense with Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz not expected to return, but not a lot has been done about the offense.

In their exit interviews, Del Zotto and Schultz made it clear that the organization was very straight forward with them about moving on.  “He thanked me for my time; I thanked him for the opportunity,” Del Zotto said. “We both talked about which way the organization’s going. I think it’s no secret with what’s happening here and we ended on that note.”

Those openings set up a pre-season competition between Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg, Philippe Myers, and Travis Sanheim. The defense is shaping up to be better than last season, but the offense is still a bit crowded.

Del Zotto and Schultz are unrestricted free agents at the end of this season. The only unrestricted free agent in the forwards is Chris VandeVelde who, as far as we know, hasn’t been told that the organization is ready to move on from him. Roman Lyubimov is another forward that we don’t expect to be back with the Flyers based on his usage. Now, it’s reported that he’s looking into a return to the KHL.

In 47 games, Hextall’s second KHL addition had 4 assists and 2 goals before eventually being a press box regular in favor of an underperforming 4th line. I was going to use a quick visual before comparing Lyubimov to VandeVelde and Bellemare, but Own the Puck doesn’t recognize Lyubimov as a player.

Bellemare was one of the worst offensive producers in the whole league putting up only two more points than Lyubimov in 35 more games. Both Bellemare and VandeVelde’s Corsi For percentages were under 47% while Lyubimov was at 47.9% not amazing, but better. Roman Lyubimov seemed like a player who could fill a 4th line role better than the Flyers current 4th line. Now he may be headed back to the KHL. Lyubimov wasn’t considered good enough defensively by Hakstol who insisted on using players with worse possession numbers to shut down team’s better players or to contribute in important moments.

Losing Lyubimov wouldn’t be a huge blow to the Flyers lineup. The roster is crowded as it is, but with Bellemare being handed a new contract and VandeVelde not explicitly notified that he won’t be back next season, it seems like the Flyers organization is placing importance on the wrong things. Hopefully, Hextall doesn’t try to pull any more talent from the KHL just to showcase how much they value bad players.

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