THE NHL IS BACK!!! Is was starting to feel like there was another labor lockout.
Now that the Olympic break is over and no one on the Flyers sustained any injuries we can now shift out attention back to the final remaining 23 games. As it stands right now the Philly is siting in the third position in the Metro division one point behind the Rangers. As of this writing the Flyers are getting their butts handed to them by the San Jose Sharks (7-3). There has been a whole bunch of talk all over NHL circles as to what teams should do with the March 5th trade deadline looming less than one week away. As for the Philadelphia Flyers many say the wish list should start with defense and possibly a natural winger. How to achieve that with players that could actually make a difference without gutting the current roster is going to be a very difficult task for General Manager Paul Holmgren.
A lot of fans keep clamoring for the Flyers to go out and try to pry Shea Weber from the Nashville Predators. I’m not saying that it will never happen because anything is possible with this front office, but I would not waste too much time wishing for it before the trade deadline. The best case scenario would be at the draft this year and even then I still see it as next to impossible that it happens. Weber’s contract that the Flyers forced Nashville to equal was extremely front loaded so a huge chunk of actual dollars was to be paid in the first couple years. With that said; the small market Predators aren’t about to lose a ton of money unless the deal for him knocks them off their feet. In other words….not going to happen. I for one don’t really want his 7.8 million dollar cap hit on this team. That is an albatross of a cap hit that Nashville is already feeling the sting of. The Flyers still have one of their own in Chris Pronger that still has three more years after this season to clear the books. Sure Philly can just put Pronger on the long-term-injury-list and be allowed to exceed the cap for his salary but only after the start of the season. To top it off he still has to claim a roster spot on the 50 man limit.
Being honest to myself; I just don’t see any impactful defensemen out there that could really change the Flyers fortunes this year more so than what is already currently on the roster. It hurts to say that, but the only one out their that is rumored to be on the trading block that has any potential is Winnipeg Jets d-man Dustin Byfuglien. Problem with him is that he is a turnover machine and his -17 rating would be the worst on the whole Flyers team if he were traded here. I don’t even see defensemen out there that are vastly better than what the Flyers currently have on the roster. They shouldn’t just make a move or two just to shake things up. We are too far into the season for that and this might be GM Paul Holmgren’s last chance to save his job. Any major shake-up will most likely happen in the offseason if it comes to that.
I see Philadelphia going more of the addition by subtraction route. Not saying that they are going to be sellers this year, but I think they need to make moves that free up some of the salary cap crunch they are currently in and possibly shifting it to the offense. The Flyers currently pay way too much money on the defense as it is for what they are getting in return; A slow and turnover riddled mess. Not all of the blame should be on the defensemen though. Their team defense overall is at times brutal; but they could move a couple of the higher paid defensemen on the roster and add Oliver Lauridsen and Brandon Manning from the AHL Phantoms without looking too much worse than they already do. I know patience is not a virtue that the Flyers front office, nor some of the fan base, have but I think it is time to start. They also have too many centers on this team and in their farm system that trading a Brayden Schenn for true winger would make a bit of sense. His name could fetch a pretty darn good return. Plus he is a free agent next year, albeit a restricted one, that moving him seems not only plausible but likely. Moving him and a higher priced d-man or two could clear up room for that return to be something somewhat substantial. Thomas Vanek? Jordan Eberle? Martin St. Louis?
There is a good amount of defensive talent in the Flyers farm system that is still a few years away (Sam Morin), but there are some that could make the roster as soon as next year. Trade deadline deals are usually very expensive as are big free agent deals in the offseason. The only way the front office can effectively solve the defense mess is to grow it not buy it this year. Will it be at the expense of a chance at the playoffs are dare I say winning the Stanley Cup this year? Probably, but maybe not. Dreaming of a sure-fire number one defensemen on a roster is the fantasy about 20 NHL teams have each and every year which is why their cost is so expensive. Supply and demand; as simple as that.
So while some can fantasize of the Shea Webers’ of the league getting traded to the Flyers I will leave you with this nugget…Unless Philly shores up their team defense as a whole there is not one defensemen in the league, be it at the trade deadline or in free agency next year, that would fix this mess so why not try and solve that first and push to outscore opponents until the help grows up.
Tags: Philadelphia Flyers