1. Upgrade the top defense pairing
Dream player – PK Subban
The Montreal Canadiens will not deal Subban. Period. I only bring his name up to signify the type of player that the Flyers need. They need a legitimate top pairing defenseman who will make up for what Braydon Coburn lacks. Coburn, for all of his defensive awareness and skating ability, does not have great puck moving skills or offensive ability. However, he is capable of logging big minutes and being the ‘lesser half’ of a top defense pairing. A player like Subban who can move the puck up the ice at an elite level and eat big minutes would look fantastic on Coburn’s right side.
Finding a top pair defenseman would help everyone on the Flyers next season. As much as middle/bottom pairing upgrades like Mark Streit, Erik Gustafsson, and Andrew MacDonald are helpful, they are continually asked to do too much. If the Flyers had a top pair that could log 24+ minutes every game that wuold allow the entire defensive unit to fall into more natural roles.
With a solid first pair, players like Luke Schenn, Streit, MacDonald, and Gustafsson would only be relied upon to skate for 17-19 minutes a night against lesser competition. This would also allow Flyers prospects like Gostisbehere, Morin, Hagg, and Alt to develop at a more natural pace.
Don’t get me wrong, UFA’s like Stralman and Niskanen are intriguing. But neither guy will turn the Flyers from a decent playoff team into a true Stanley Cup contender.
Realistic options – Keith Yandle, Dustin Byfuglien, T.J. Brodie
Both Yandle and Byfuglien have been linked to the Flyers for years. With the emergence of OEL in Phoenix and Trouba in Winnipeg, both Yandle and Byfuglien could be had for the right price. The Coyotes and Jets are in need of offensive help, so it may take a package including Brayden Schenn (or more) to snag one of these guys, but there is a deal to be made.
Brodie, an underrated member of the Clagary Flames is a bit under sized, but he would fit well alongside Coburn. The new GM in Calgary, Brad Treliving, has already mentioned that he wants the Flames to get bigger. Therefore, a guy like Brodie may be expendable in his eyes in favor of someone with more size.