Potential Philadelphia Flyers Line Combos before the Trade Deadline

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 14: Travis Sanheim #6 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates with teammates after defeating the Minnesota Wild 7-4 on January 14, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 14: Travis Sanheim #6 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates with teammates after defeating the Minnesota Wild 7-4 on January 14, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images) /

With the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline just weeks away, expect Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Chuck Fletcher to remain active in the trade market after trading Jordan Weal and Taylor Leier last month.

The Philadelphia Flyers front office, led by Fletcher, probably won’t be able to move Jori Lehtera’s $4.5 million contract before it expires, but Wayne Simmonds and Michael Raffl are both trade candidates, up for the Unrestricted Free Agent market this summer.

The Flyers started the All-Star break with 44 points, the third worst record in the Eastern Conference, and 14 points away from a hated rival in the Pittsburgh Penguins, whom at the time occupied the wild card spot, but we’re going streaking! In dire straits, the Flyers found a way to win eight consecutively and now stand only 5 points away from the wild card spot at the time this article was written. Still, to keep things fresh and continue scoring and winning, Philadelphia will be looking up and down the roster for contributions.

With all of that being said, here are some lineups we’d like to see before management trades any more of our guys away:


James van Riemsdyk | Claude Giroux | Wayne Simmonds

Try to stay calm, fans: this might be Simmonds’ last few months as a Flyer. Mr. Train has been seen screening goalies with prime time first-line powerplay minutes for several years, at his most productive with Brayden Schenn on the other wing (remember him?) but with only five points on the powerplay in 52 games, Simmonds is on pace for his least-productive season on the man-advantage since he was acquired in a trade with Los Angeles in 2011. The trade deadline is fast approaching, and one can’t help but wonder if Simmonds will leave in a trade this month.

With Claude Giroux averaging over a point-per-game (56 points in 42 games), and James van Riemsdyk seeing productive numbers scoring 25 points in 36 games and a team-high shooting percentage (exluding Mikhail Vorobyev, who has only 5 shots on goal this season) with 16% of his shots going in, Simmer and the Flyers could benefit from the productivity of these two forwards, and vice versa, as JVR and Giroux will be more free to work their magic at the perimeter with Simmonds in the opposing goaltender’s face.

Besides, fans would surely love a chance to see the fan favorite power forward play some more top line minutes, if this is indeed Simmonds’ last season as a Flyer.

Scott Laughton | Sean Couturier | Jake Voracek

Couturier and Voracek have been paired often for years now, but Scott Laughton, who spent the entire 2016-2017 season with the AHL-affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms, is only games away from toppling his previous season-high 21 points, with 19 at the All-Star Break. Laughton has found a consistent role on the team as a bottom-six center, but with great up-and-down speed, has been known to play on the wing.

Laughton, like his potential new linemates, plays a good all-around game of hockey and shows plenty of grit and resilience, which lately has translated to his fast-paced offensive game. He’s a two-way player who’s more likely to see time killing penalties than on the power-play, but surely should be rewarded for his consistent performance and emergence as a depth scoring threat with second-line minutes.

Voracek and Couturier are neck-and-neck in team scoring, each with 39 points going into the All-Star Break, and Voracek now with 45 and Couturier with 44 points. With Sean Couturier’s numbers just about as good as they were last season, we can expect him to pivot the Flyers’ second line for some time.

Oscar Lindblom | Nolan Patrick | Travis Konecny

This unit has been a second powerplay option for the Flyers this winter. Seeing Lindblom play on the first powerplay unit evokes joy; with speed and a big body, the 22-year-old Swede does a lot of work for collecting the puck, especially around the boards. All three first round picks, Lindblom, Patrick, and Konecny, have been shuffled above their third line position and into the top six with Flyers veteran core players, and have seldom looked out of place.

The Flyers’ kid line has been dynamite through a tumultuous season; one bright spot for fans has been the chemistry developing [on and off the ice] between 2018 First Round pick Nolan Patrick, and 2016 First Round pick Travis Konecny, 19 and 20 years old respectively. Konecny has seen top-line minutes this year playing with Giroux and van Riemsdyk, and although Patrick has seen some difficulties in his first two seasons in the NHL, he’s shown confident play in all situations on the ice, and started heating up on the score sheet around the time Dale Weise was placed on waivers.

Michael Raffl | Jori Lehtera | Phil Varone

I hate to see Weise’s contract going to waste in the AHL, but Philadelphia has plenty of options for their fourth line. At no discredit to Vorobyev, Phil Varone has specifically stood out more to me, scoring recently against Winnipeg after a back-to-back shift in the third period. It’s probably going to be hard to trade Raffl before his contract expires this summer if he’s on the bench, and lining him up with trade acquisition Jori Lehtera gives some veteran balance to the Flyers’ talented bottom-six troupe. We’ve already let guys like Valtteri Filppula go, and he’s been lighting it up with the Islanders this year; I’d hate to see us do the same with a player we made a trade for, someone who used to play with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwarz in St. Louis.

Varone, 28, is a choice that was hard to see coming. Interim Head Coach Scott Gordon, who was the former head coach of the AHL affliate Phantoms, continues to put trust in his former first-line center, often putting him with a former teammate in Lindblom. It’s good to see a career minor league guy find a role on a finally-surging Flyers team and Varone has done nothing but earn said role thus far.


Ivan Provorov | Andrew MacDonald

We’re lucky to have future Norris nominee Ivan Provorov, and the Russian-born blueliner had an excellent rookie season lifting up the numbers of his linemate, Philadelphia Flyers assistant captain Andrew MacDonald. Unfortunately, Provorov’s numbers aren’t the best this season — his plus-minus rating is a team-low -15, which is in part due to eating high minutes, but his production doesn’t reflect that of a top-pairing defensemen, as Provorov’s 17 points is only third among Flyers’ defensemen.

Both defensemen have solid skating ability and occasionally show the ability to make a play in the offensive zone, although MacDonald’s special teams time continues to diminish with the emergence of a younger puck-moving defensemen on the team. Although goal-less and with only six points so far this season, MacDonald’s -3 plus/minus rating is third only to Radko Gudas and Robert Hagg among Flyers’ defensemen, both of whom play a more physical game than the 31 year-old defenseman, and pairing him with Provorov again could lead to a spark in productivity for both players.

Shayne Gostisbehere | Radko Gudas

I’m surprised we haven’t seen this pairing more, to be honest. Gudas has played a lot with Travis Sanheim this season, which is probably a good thing since he doesn’t miss the net quite as often or completely as Gostisbehere does. The left-handed Sanheim looks to have finally found a home on NHL ice, which is beneficial to the team given his youthful injection.

Hard-hitting Gudas’s advanced Corsi and Fenwick stats are as high as they’ve ever been, which is impressive since he has enjoyed an increase in defensive zone starts. He occasionally shows up on the scoreboard and has two goals and 11 assists this season, along with a relatively impressive team high +10 plus/minus rating. Both Gudas and Gostisbehere have a heck of a slapshot from the blue line, and heaven forbid one of the kids get injured this spring, the Flyers will have to rely on a player who now looks like one of the more responsible defensive options on the team to carry on his 13 points and +10 plus/minus.

Robert Hagg | Travis Sanheim

One of the Flyers’ strengths is their depth, and both of these players are having a great season in their first full year on the Flyers’ roster. Hagg has four goals and nine assists, and the brief time Sanheim played with Provorov on the Flyers’ power-play unit gave the team a lot of talent at the point.

Sanheim still has improvements to make on his own end, but his overtime goal against the Bruins is one example of his electrifying ability to make plays as good as any offensive defensemen in the NHL. Left-handed, but playing on the right side, Sanheim’s offensive instincts and ability to quarterback a powerplay unit reminds vaguely of former Philadelphia Flyer Mark Streit.

Hagg’s defensive responsibility makes him an obvious choice for Sanheim’s partner on the blue line. However, the 23-year-old sophomore’s advanced stats remain among the lowest on the team, despite his reasonable production. Both players are two examples of the excellent system of defenders nurtured on the farm team during the Hextall Era, and we are bound to see Hagg and Sanheim paired together in the future.


Carter Hart | Anthony Stolarz

Former general manager Ron Hextall is looking like a genius for scouting and drafting Carter Hart right now, but won’t be able to share the joy from the front office as his former second round draft selection  is one of the main reasons for the Flyers’ eight game win streak.

Philadelphia has had as many goalies this season as Judas Priest has had drummers, relying on an NHL-high seven net-minders this year, but don’t let Anthony Stolarz get lost in the depth chart behind fellow youths Hart and Alex Lyon get marked as one for the books. Stolarz showed excellent rebound control and big-game resilience in the Flyers to a 1-0 victory over the New York Rangers a couple contests back. Mix more performances like that with an added bill of good health, and this guy might have a chance at the number one goaltending slot going into the 2019-2020 season.

Hot. What is Michael Raffl's Trade Value?. light

The Flyers will have plenty of decisions to make leading up to and after the February 25th Trade Deadline, from a front-office and coaching standpoint. Get ready top buckle up, Flyers fans, because Fletcher is expected to be very active on the phones.