With NHL Free Agency a little over a month away, the NHL trade market is buzzing as rumors of Jack Eichel and Seth Jones being dealt are heating up. The Flyers are in a prime position to trade for or sign a number one defender to pair with Ivan Provorov. With numerous defensemen available here are the top five that the Flyers could sign or trade for.
5. Rasmus Ristolainen
A big body on the blue line, current Sabre Rasmus Ristolainen seems to fit what the Flyers are looking for. A team that seemed soft last season bringing in a defenseman that plays the body more often than not, seems to be a perfect fit right? Sadly he is not a top pair caliber defenseman as he has completely underperformed a majority of his time in Buffalo.
Whether that was him as a player, or just the Buffalo Curse, giving up a pool of prospects and draft picks for a 2nd/3rd pair defenseman does not make much sense for the Flyers; however, if the right deal comes along they absolutely should take it to add to the team’s defensive depth.
4. Seth Jones
Seth Jones is a strange defenseman. Advanced metrics and stats show that Jones seems to be overrated by many NHL fans, but the eye test seems to show a solid steady defenseman that can log a lot of ice time without burning out. Maybe, like many other players (see Taylor Hall), he needs a change of scenery for him to return to the elite status he had back in 2017/2018. The Flyers should absolutely do their due diligence in inquiring about Seth Jones.
Dougie Hamilton is the NHL’s top available free agent this offseason, and he is going to get paid like it too. Last season with the Covid Cap, Alex Pietrangelo signed a contract with a $9M AAV with the Golden Knights. Hamilton will be looking to match or beat that number. Yes, he is the best player available, but with the Flyers cap problems, a lot of things would need to happen to open up that cap space, especially with Carter Hart needing a new contract.
And with reports that the Flyers are not too high on Hamilton, he doesn’t seem like a fit for this team according to said reports (even though many Flyers fans want him to be).
2. Matt Dumba
Dumba makes too much sense for the Flyers. Dumba is 26 years old, Ivan Provorov is 24. Chuck Fletcher was the GM for the Minnesota Wild when they drafted Dumba, he is now the GM of the Flyers. Dumba is on the last year of his deal and is a UFA after the next season, which means they wouldn’t need to give up the entire farm for him and would make moves to make sure he re-signs here for the future.
It all makes too much sense. A workhorse on defense would compliment greatly with Provorov to give him that steady partner he was missing this season.
1. Ryan Ellis
The longest shot is the greatest reward for the Flyers as Ryan Ellis is the perfect partner for Provorov. Ellis has spent his last couple of seasons paired with the 2020 Norris Trophy winner Roman Josi, so he has experience working with a high-level defenseman and could give the young Flyers d-corps some veteran leadership.
Another great quality is that he would be only the third player on the Flyers to have made it to a Stanley Cup Final, and the only player on the team’s defense to do so. Playoff experience and leadership are two very important things they would be getting from Ellis. Along with leadership and experience, he is a great two-way defenseman and would fit very well on this team.
At 30 years old, and with six more years on his contract, the Flyers would need to give the rebuilding Preds a big haul, most likely involving Cam York. Even if the Flyers need to move one of their NHL-ready defensemen such as Sanheim or Myers, Fletcher needs to pull the trigger. It is a risk the Flyers should absolutely try and take. Putting a player like Ellis on the same pair as Provovrv would greatly help a defense that heavily struggled last season.