As usual, the days leading up to the NHL trade deadline are ripe with Philadelphia Flyers rumors. As Josh LaMarra pointed out, it’s refreshing not to hear Bobby Ryan to Philly rumors, but now we are being bombarded with rumors about Ryan Kesler. Apparently the Vancouver Canucks are shopping the perennial Selke trophy nominee and asking for a giant return. However, one player of note that is also being shopped by the Canucks is defenseman Alexander Edler. Here are a few reasons why the Philadelphia Flyers should take a shot at acquiring Edler, but stay away from Kesler.
Kesler is a 29 year old center. When it comes to center, the Flyers have Giroux (26), Brayden Schenn (22), and Couturier (21), along with Vincent Lecavalier (33) and prospect Scott Laughton (19). Kesler is a talented two-way center who scored 40 goals one time in his career. Other than that season (2010-2011), he has never scored more than 26 goals. He is a perennial Selke nominee, so his offensive numbers are not the most important or intriguing part of his game. However, the Flyers have Sean Couturier, who is already a great shut down center and is eight years younger than Kesler. Couturier may not have the same offensive numbers as Kesler, but I believe he will in a few short years.
Ultimately, a trade for Kesler is a “win-now” versus “win-later” proposition. The Flyers are not built to win now (sorry Mr. Snider) and they have a stable of young centers who will be just as good, or better, than Kesler in a few short years. The assets it would take to land Kesler are enormous and the Flyers would be better off filling a need with those assets. Make no mistake about it, Kesler is a want, not a need.
One final note on Kesler: Many sources have reported that the Flyers are only ‘interested’ in Kesler to drive up the price for the Penguins. That is a very likely situation and I would be proud of Homer if that is the case. However, trying to sort through rumor and posturing at this time of year is difficult. Therefore, I addressed the Kesler rumor as best I could. Hopefully Homer sees how dumb it would be to waste assets on Kesler and is just playing Pittsburgh. I would not be surprised at all. We should know more by Thursday.
As anyone who regularly watches the Flyers has come to realize, their blue line needs help. As anyone who has studied their roster has come to realize, they are built for the future, although I think that next year they could be a decent contender once again. These two factors combine to make Alexander Edler an intriguing trade target. There are definite concerns with Edler. Is he injury prone? Has his game deteriorated? Is he actually that good or is his value inflated because of trade deadline hype? Here are a few thoughts.
When it comes to his injuries, Edler has missed only 22 games over the last three seasons. He played a full season in 2011-2012 and only missed three games last year. I am not worried about whether or not he can hold up.
Some will point out that his game has gone downhill over the past few seasons. When looking at his numbers, it would appear that way. However, this is a case in which advanced statistics really help us get a glance at Edler. Take a look at his advanced stats and his advanced stats compared with other Flyers defensemen. For those unfamiliar with these charts, let me explain:
Edler plays more minutes than any Flyers defenseman, averaging 23:23 per game. The level of competition that he regularly faces is almost equal to that of Timonen and Coburn who are the two Flyers defensemen who play against the opponents top lines. His team generates less than one shot on goal than their opponents through 60 minutes while he is on the ice, but keep in mind that Edler starts more of his shifts in the defensive zone than in the offensive zone. Although he takes more penalties than he draws, he is better than every Flyer defenseman except Gus in that department. His shooting percentage is down this year from his career average, meaning he is not getting the bounces he has in the past. Things like that tend to even out (re: Conacher) and his point totals will most likely gradually improve over the next few years.
Conclusion: He takes on more minutes than any Flyer, plays very tough minutes (in the Western Conference no less), and starts his shifts in the defensive zone more than any Flyer except Grossmann. Also, he can do this (pay special attention to 1:24-1:30, looks nice right?):
I do not know what the Canucks are asking for Edler. I know that their price is absurd for Kesler, so I would not be surprised if the Flyers walked away from Edler because of the price. Edler is only 27 years old, making him younger than Gill, Timonen, Coburn, Streit, Grossmann, and Meszaros. He has some time left in his prime and would be a valuable addition to the Flyers blue line. Ultimately acquiring Edler at a reasonable price would improve the team both now and later.
Final note: No one player, whether that be Ehrhoff, Edler, Byfuglien, Vatanen, etc, is worth a package that guts the organization of it’s young talent. The Philadelphia Flyers are replete with young talent and they need quality defensemen. But it would be foolish to trade too many pieces (like I’ve said before Couturier and our 1st rounder should be off the table) for any one guy. The Flyers havea good team in the making. Don’t blow it up for an individual.