The Philly is Flyer crew recently had a very interesting discussion about the upcoming trade deadline. One of the biggest questions looming is will the Flyers be buyers or sellers? The overwhelming mentality is that they will be sellers, but the answer could be more complicated than you think. Here’s a preview of what could be on the horizon come February 26th.
The first question that needs to be answered is what do the Flyers need?
They certainly don’t need defense, they’re plenty stocked in that department, all the way down to the AHL. They’re unlikely to look for goaltending, either, though it’s possible they might make a move for another AHL-caliber goalie should they need to bring Lyon back up to the NHL team again. They definitely don’t need to bring in another center, with that position so stacked that Claude Giroux had to be moved to the wing. They don’t need a playmaker who can set his teammates up with beautiful assists, they have plenty of those already.
The main thing the Flyers need is a top-six winger who can put the puck into the net. Simply put, they need someone who can score a whole lot of goals.
Is anyone untouchable?
Absolutely. Ivan Provorov, Nolan Patrick, Travis Konecny, Shayne Gostisbehere, Brian Elliott and Sean Couturier aren’t going anywhere.
Beyond the aforementioned obvious, it’s highly unlikely that Claude Giroux is on the trading block, especially considering he has a no movement clause. Neither is Jake Voracek, unless some crazy team is interested in his ridiculous $49.5 million salary over the next six years.
Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim will also sit comfortably on trade deadline day. The Flyers have put way too much time and effort into their development and they’ve proven so far this season that they’ve been worth it.
Andrew MacDonald, unfortunately, most likely won’t be going anywhere. Hextall has already said that he believes this defense is too young as it is. Mac is one of the few veterans in this corps, and the organization clearly has a very high opinion of him. Besides, no team in their right mind would be willing to take on his $10 million salary over the next two years.
Finally Wayne Simmonds’s name has been tossed around in multiple circles, especially because he’s due for a massive contract at the end of the 2018-19 season. However, he does still have one more year left on his current contract and Hextall has made it clear that he wants to keep as much veteran leadership on this roster as he possibly can. It’s more likely that Hextall will hold on to Simmonds at least until the 2018 draft, if not the 2019 trade deadline.
So who’s available to trade?
The Flyers have a variety of players who could be available to trade. Some choices may be more popular than others, but Hextall certainly isn’t lacking in options.
The main player that Hextall will likely try to trade is Filppula. He could definitely be moved to a Cup-contending team looking for a reliable bottom-six center who can provide scoring depth through the end of the season. His contract isn’t too trade-friendly, but should Hextall offer to pay a portion of what’s left, Filppula is someone teams will certainly be interested in. He does have a modified no movement clause that Hextall would have to work around.
Radko Gudas could also be on the move at the deadline, though his suspension history could hurt the ability to trade him. He still provides a veteran presence on the blue line to anyone willing to risk it, and his $7 million salary over the next two years could be worth it to the right team.
Scott Laughton is the one player who rides the bubble between untouchable and tradable. As a trade piece, he could be used to sweeten a deal that otherwise might not go through. But the Flyers are clearly high on him, since they protected him during the Vegas expansion draft. He’ll only be moved if the absolute perfect deal comes along.
While I personally don’t want to see Sam Morin go anywhere, he could definitely be someone that the Flyers could be convinced to give up. I don’t think Hextall will be specifically taking calls regarding Sam, but if the Flyers could benefit significantly, he could find himself on the move. The same can be said for Philippe Myers.
There would have to be a market for him, but Michal Neuvirth could also be a trade piece to the right team. Someone looking for a backup goaltender with a short contract. He still has another $2.5 million year left on his contract after this season, though, and his injury history will make it tough to convince another team to take a risk. So I doubt he’ll be going anywhere.
Dale Weise, Jori Lehtera and Brandon Manning are players who should be moved if possible, but might not have any interest from other teams. Danick Martel, Matt Read, Michael Raffl, Jordan Weal, Taylor Leier, and Mark Alt are all players who could be added to a potential trade to sweeten one of those deals.
The Flyers also own the rights to three of the top scoring leaders in the NCAA: Tanner Laczynski, Wade Allison, and Cooper Marody, and have a plethora of other prospects in their system to work with.
In addition to players, the Flyers also own at minimum ten draft picks in the 2018 NHL entry draft that could be used. They have maintained all seven of their own choices, plus they have at least three more. They have Arizona’s fifth round pick, which they got in the Nick Cousins trade. They have Montreal’s seventh round pick, which they received in a swap of picks at the 2017 draft. And they have New Jersey’s seventh round pick, which they received in exchange for Petr Straka. They also have a conditional first round pick from St. Louis, which they received in the Brayden Schenn trade. St. Louis still has the option to push that to a 2019 first round pick.
Now that we know who’s available—and who’s not—who can the Flyers get in return?
This is why I said it’s more complicated than saying the Flyers will be either buyers or sellers. They have a lot of pieces they could trade away just for draft picks. But they’re also in a position where they could be looking to add one or two major pieces to their roster that could seriously shake things up.
Let’s break it down by the teams the Flyers have a history working alongside.
Los Angeles- The main name that stands out and seems somewhat reasonable on their roster is Adrian Kempe. His 13 goals rank fourth on the Kings’ roster, and he currently has one more year left on his entry-level contract. The Kings would likely want an established player, a high-end prospect, a good draft choice, or a combination of the three in return, though.
Columbus- Columbus has a plethora of young wingers able to score a whole lot of goals. Like with the Kings, though, they’ll probably come at a very high cost. Josh Anderson and Sonny Milano stand out above the rest.
Arizona- Brendan Perlini, Christian Fischer and Tobias Rieder are the three names that stand out the most as players the Flyers could be interested in acquiring from the Coyotes. Perlini, 20, and Fischer, 21, will likely cost the Flyers more than Rieder would.
Chicago- It’s going to be tough for the Flyers to make a deal with the Blackhawks. Chicago has just under $400k in cap space, so any deal would have to benefit them in the salary department. Ryan Hartman and Tommy Wingels are the two players that the Flyers would most likely be interested in receiving, but both have contracts worth under $1 million. In order to get either, the Flyers would have to retain a whole lot of whoever’s salary they’re trading away.
Edmonton- Based on the Eberle and Hall trades, the Oilers have already proven that they’re desperate enough to get rid of their former “core” that they’re willing to make a bad deal. They’re also desperate for just about any defense they can get their hands on. Jujhar Kjaira is the primary candidate the Flyers could try to get and could cost them a lot less than the other options they have around the league. However, if the Oilers are desperate enough, Hextall could also work some type of magic to bring Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to Philadelphia. They’d have to get rid of a center or move someone else to the wing like Giroux, but it would be worth it. It would cost them a lot, though, including a high-end defense prospect like Morin or Myers.
Vegas- Thanks to the expansion draft, and especially thanks to how many teams offered additional players and draft picks to convince the Golden Knights to chose certain players, Vegas has one of the most stacked prospect pools in the league. Any one of those players could be a target for Ron Hextall to aim for. In addition, the Flyers could also be interested in Erik Haula, Reilly Smith or Alex Tuch from their current roster. Any trade with Vegas would likely be a multi-player deal on both sides.
All in all, Ron Hextall and the rest of the Flyers management will have a whole lot of options to choose from. It’s possible that very little actually happens before the deadline, especially considering how content Hextall and Hakstol both seem with their current roster. But I also wouldn’t be surprised at all to see some big moves.