Trading Braydon Coburn Makes Way Too Much Sense


Trading Braydon Coburn may appear to be a rash, knee-jerk reaction. After all, the 29-year-old blue liner has an exceptional body of work that spans over the course of a decade. And although we’ve heard the many arguments – some stronger than others – in defense of 6-5, 220-pounder, moving Coburn at some point before the start of next season is not only logical, but common sense.


In a league with a team that will pay Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen a combined $67.75 million, there is an unquestionable demand for Braydon Coburn. The interest shown in the past two years by the Edmonton Oilers alone show just that. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, though.

Since being acquired from the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007, the former first-round pick has developed into a top skating defender who jumped into a pivotal role since showing up in Philadelphia. Coburn’s stability throughout five-on-five play, as well as the penalty kill, shows a potential suitor what they could still possibly have.

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Sure, it may appear as though Coburn has regressed, dating back to last season’s semifinal round against the New York Rangers. But after missing a month of the season after suffering a lower-body injury on opening night, along with being asked to carry the same workload as he handled with Kimmo Timonen in years past, an argument can be made that the Flyers are currently asking too much of him.

The regression in scoring, however, is irrefutable. Since registering 36 points in his first full season with the Flyers in 2007-08, Coburn saw a dip in point production for the following three seasons – falling below 20 points through 2009-11.

It’s not Coburn’s blast from the point, though, that makes him a commodity should GM Ron Hextall make him available. Whether it’s the rebuilding Oilers, who’re looking to change just about everything, or a team looking for a piece to finish off a product for a Stanley Cup run, the Flyers would certainly receive their share of interest for their veteran defenseman who’s not even past his prime.

Cap Relief

If Coburn is such a commodity, why the rush to unload him?

For starters, the Flyers would love to free up as much cap space as possible. Hextall has been exploring for a trade partner – to no avail – to take Vinny Lecavalier’s $4.5 million cap hit, or at least a portion of it. And although Coburn’s contract expires two years sooner than Lecavalier’s, the former Thrasher’s cap hit matches that of the former Lightning captain’s.

Second, Coburn’s modified no-trade clause, along with the interest that’ll come, make him the easiest skater to move with the smallest sting. The Calgary native is certainly not a role player, but when it comes to choosing between parting with Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn or Coburn, the choice is clear from both a financial, and long-term approach.

That’s not to say the Flyers should be looking to flat out dump Coburn. But it all comes down to a numbers game. If the thought of finding a taker for Andrew MacDonald’s $5 million cap hit for the next five years was a realistic one, the conversation is moot.

Then What?

With the demand for competent defensemen at an all-time high, why would the Flyers trade one of their own? Especially one that’s second among team defensemen in ice time with an average time on ice of 20:33?

When Micheal Del Zotto is sitting out as a healthy scratch in six straight games, that’s a problem. With the recent success on the road in Philly’s last two road wins, Del Zotto’s season of ups and downs lands him in the press box for the seventh consecutive game in Minnesota on Tuesday night.

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  • “Honestly, I don’t know what to think. I really don’t,” Del Zotto said via Frank Seravalli of “Obviously, you’re not happy with one game, let alone [six]. So I’m not happy with it. In San Jose [on Dec. 2] I was shocked, disappointed, frustrated, all of those things. All of the above.

    “At first, you get really frustrated and upset, but at the end of the day you have no control over what’s going on.”

    With Coburn, and MacDonald for that matter, out of the lineup, Del Zotto’s ice time and production jumped. From Oct. 10th through Nov. 6th, the 25-year-old offensive defenseman added seven points in the Flyers’ 6-4-2 run without Coburn. With their minute eating workhorse back in the lineup, though, the Flyers dropped to 7-9-4.

    The regression in Coburn’s game is front and center, no matter how badly others may not want to see it. His offensive production sings the tune of one point in his last 14 games, while we’re seeing forwards breeze past the left-handed defender upon entry into Philly’s zone on more occasions than we’d like to admit.

    While a lot of Coburn’s shortcomings are a direct result of simply not being the defenseman the Flyers are asking him to be, the Flyers have shown they can win without him. Why not open that four and a half million dollar cap space up?

    I get it. Braydon Coburn has all too often served as a scapegoat for a team that simply lacks a stud defenseman, among other things. The Rangers have their stud defenseman in Ryan McDonagh, who’s  cap hit is $4.7 million. And because of the Flyers’ offseason cap situation, Hextall was unable to even make a run at Anton Stralman, who’s $4.5 million cap hit is the exact same as Coburn’s.

    Let’s be honest. The Flyers are not making a Stanley Cup run this season, and likely, not the following year either. With contracts to Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl expiring in two years, why wait to get a head start? Even with Coburn’s contract expiring alongside of theirs, why not get something – anything – in return? It just makes too much sense.