The Philadelphia Flyers are on the brink of becoming deadline sellers. If they have not yet crossed that line already. Time to call Chuck Fletcher.
After starting the season 11-4-3, the Flyers 4-8-1 month of March has put them in a bad position. Something that may persuade GM Chuck Fletcher to look to next season & beyond rather than this year’s playoffs.
"“We will take a look. Anything we do, we want to make sure it makes sense,” GM Chuck Fletcher said about his plans for deadline. “If we can fill a box for the long-term right now, we can potentially explore that. Certainly if we can upgrade our team, we will do that.”"
In their current position, the Flyers face an uphill battle just to regain a spot in the race for the playoffs. Not even an actual playoff spot.
Currently, the Flyers sit 2-points back of the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot in the East Division. However, that number is not correct in actual points back.
With the Bruins in COVID protocol, the Flyers now have played 3-more games than Boston. Which could possibly be 6 points in the standings.
When the Bruins return, they would have to lose four or more games than the Flyers over the final half of the season. That’s just for the Flyers just to tie them.
"“We still think we are going to make the playoffs,” captain Claude Giroux said after their 2-1 OT loss to NYI on Monday. “We need to be a little bit more consistent in our game; Have a lot of confidence in our group.”"
The one thing the Flyers need to be is more consistent if they want any chance of making the playoffs. However, with this group, especially this season, that seems highly unlikely. Which may lead to the Flyers being sellers at the deadline.
But, could the Flyers be more than sellers? Maybe sellers buying long-term options?
If this season has told you anything about the Flyers, it is the young defense that is not ready yet. The hole left by Matt Niskanen continues to be a glaring problem on a nightly basis.
"“Matt was a great player for us & clearly we didn’t fill that void,” GM Chuck Fletcher said on Wednesday. “That type of player is really difficult to find.”"
Chuck Fletcher believing in his team taking the next step, just one year removed from saying they weren’t ready, is blowing up in his face. Something that may lead him to trade away a young asset for a veteran anchor.
With the flat cap in the NHL at the moment due to covid, it is hard to make normal deals. Deals that would be sending assets to teams without sending salary. But, with that flat cap, teams are not forced to send salary back in deals.
"“Its a flat cap era right now. Most teams aren’t looking to take on any money or term right now,” GM Chuck Fletcher added about his plans for the team. “To add a player with dollars, you have to subtract the same amount. Those types of trades are a little more difficult to make.”"
This will cause teams to make more “hockey-style” deals. Deals that include pieces of equal value in the NHL. Not future assets. Which for the Flyers, is a good thing with so much young talent at the NHL level.
Now, these types of deals are not blowing up a team & restarting. No, far from it.
“Hockey-style” deals are teams looking to fill holes on their roster with assets they have a surplus of. For the Flyers, that is left-handed defensemen.
At the moment, the Flyers have three young left-handed defensemen at the NHL level. However, only one of the three, Ivan Provorov, has locked himself into a spot.
Shayne Gostisbehere has spent more time on the right side than the left. So, his future remains to be seen as to what actual side he will play.
Travis Sanheim, on the other hand, has yet to set himself in stone in the Flyers’ future plans. Which, with a couple of left-handed defense prospects knocking at the door, his time could be running out.
Cam York & Egor Zamula, two prospects who are highly valued in the Flyers organization, will get a shot at making the team in camp next season. Both are left-handed defensemen as well.
If Chuck Fletcher believes one of York or Zamula can make the jump to the Flyers next year, Travis Sanheim is movable. Movable, in a sense, to make a “hockey-style” to get a player that fills a big void on their team, top-4 right-handed defenseman.
There are 19-days until the NHL trade deadline. The Philadelphia Flyers play 10-games before the deadline. In the next 5-games, if the Flyers don’t improve, Chuck Fletcher should move his focus to next season & beyond rather than a playoff run.