It isn’t likely to happen but what would a possible Flyers trade for Patrik Laine look like?
It appears that the Winnipeg Jets are very much listening to offers for their star forward in Patrik Laine. You don’t typically see teams willing to trade their top-tier talent. So it’s possible there is something outsiders may not know about Laine. There is plenty of skill that is being made available nonetheless. And the Flyers would be remiss to not at least check in about it.
Now it is likely they wouldn’t pull the trigger on a deal for Laine. You have to imagine the Jets are looking for a hefty return. Do they lose some of the upper-hand by essentially saying he is available, though? Nonetheless, think something along the lines of a forward, defenseman, potentially a prospect, and possibly a draft pick. It’s not to say it will take all of that to get it done.
But the Jets are certainly looking for centers and defensemen in return. So teams could feel Winnipeg out and see exactly what they are looking for. So what would that look like for the Flyers?
If we are starting with a prospect, it begins with Morgan Frost. When Ron Hextall was the GM, he was unwilling to part with any of the team’s top prospects. And while Chuck Fletcher has seemingly held true to that thus far, we don’t really know if he is unwilling to dangle a prospect for top-tier talent. Frost hasn’t proven that he is completely ready for the NHL, but he is the Flyers’ top prospect.
And if the team is truly looking to get rid of Shayne Gostisbehere, it’s possible they send him in a package as well. It is a low-risk/high-reward type of acquisition. There is a chance Gostisbehere, now healthy, turns back into the Calder of the Year Finalist type player that he was a few seasons ago.
Could the team throw in a depth option like Scott Laughton potentially? They could bank on his career-season and use that as a bargaining chip for Laine. His versatility has given him the opportunity to play up and down the lineup. Though, the wing is where he seems to be suited best. If the Jets don’t believe Frost would be ready to jump in, Laughton has proven to be a serviceable stop-gap if need be.
There were rumors floating around that Nolan Patrick could be a piece of a deal for Laine. However, the team has shown a lot of support his way in the last year or so since his diagnosis. It is hard to believe they would ship him out as a part of a package for Laine. He certainly wouldn’t be the main piece, more as an add-in to sweeten the pot. But the players and coaches alike talk about him as a future piece to the Flyers lineup.
Lastly, if the Flyers want to add in a draft pick, would they think about dangling the 23rd pick in front of the Jets? A lot of scouts seem to believe that this will be a deep draft. So it is likely that a solid player would be available in the mid-’20s.
Start with Gostisbehere and Frost and go from there. It will likely take a draft pick, potentially the 23rd overall, to get the deal done as well. Laine is in the final year of a $13.5M deal he signed just over a year ago. So the Flyers would need to move a significant amount of money to fit him in. Gostisbehere’s $4.5M cap hit is a start.
You can almost certainly take out Justin Braun and his $3.8M cap hit. Nate Thompson and Derek Grant may not be back either. Brian Elliott, and possibly Tyler Pitlick, have a chance to return.
But there are options to make Laine’s salary work if they don’t bring back most of their free agents. They will need to re-sign Philippe Myers, though. They could bridge-deal him to be certain that he is the real deal. Which it looks like he has the chance to be. But it would give them some more space if need be.
Of course, this deal would hardly leave the Flyers with much space to do anything else. So they likely need to make a few more minor moves to become cap compliment. But if Laine is truly this available, you find a way to make it work if at all possible. Especially for a player who could help kickstart a power-play that dried up in the postseason.