The NHL trade deadline is less than a month away. A lot of eyes, right now, are focused on the Flyers to see what they may or may not do. The team could try to make a late playoff push, load up for the future, trade veterans away to restock for a possible future, or some combination of three. Only Chuck Fletcher really knows what’s up; or at least we hope he does.
So, if the Flyers are going to be sellers, or buyers for that matter, what do we have to offer other teams? What could the Flyers trade away to build for a better tomorrow?
This has been talked about a bunch here, so I am not going to spend a lot of time on this. James van Riemsdyk is the most obvious answer here. He might be a perfect fit in Carolina. He needs to play better if he is going to bring us a good return. After “spats” with Coach John Tortorella, there were rumors that Kevin Hayes or Ivan Provorov had asked for trades. Who knows for sure?
At the beginning of the season, Tortorella said he was going to “play the kids“. If some of them haven’t measured up, it could be time to cut ties. For example, Joel Farabee has not being playing as well as we’ve seen in the past. Is it time to sell high? The fear is, you could end up getting snookerd out of a rising star, like Noah Cates or Wade Allison who could blossom somewhere else. Some players may need more time to develop. Others may be out of time.
If Fletcher was bold, he could trade a star like Carter Hart or Travis Konecny (gasp!). But he ‘d have to get a monster haul in return. And let’s be honest, looking at some of his past moves, somehow that would blow up in our face and every player we got in return, including draft picks, would be out of the league in 2-3 years.
More likely, he could be induced to trade Felix Sandstrom or Samuel Ersson for a goalie needy team. He might actually be able to finagle a good draft pick or prospect if the price gets high enough.
Trading prospects is a risky thing. Sometimes you can get lucky and trade a Luca Sbisa for a Chris Pronger and it never hurts you. Sometimes you can trade away a Justin Williams or a Patrick Sharp for nothing. Some prospects pan out. Others, like Nolan Patrick, never really do.
It also depends, greatly, on what you are getting in return. If you are getting a bona fide star, like Timo Meier, that’s one thing. If you are getting someone’s injured project, than no, no, no, no, and no.
The consensus top prospect that the Flyers have is last year’s first rounder Cutter Gauthier. He’s played well in international tournaments and in the college ranks this season. It appears that he could be up with the big club in a year or two. Trading him would be a really bad idea.
After him, the names get a little murky. Every publication has their own rankings. Names that are commonly ranked include: Bobby Brink, Tyson Foerster, Emil Andrae, Egor Zamula, Devin Kaplan, Ronnie Attard, Tanner Laczynski, Elliot Desnoyers, and Ersson.
Zamula, Attard, and Andrae are all defensive prospects. They would tend to be the most expendable as Sanheim, Provorov, DeAngelo, and Ristolainen are signed on for a while and Cam York isn’t going anywhere. Nick Seeler is thriving right now in the sixth spot. Unless one of the vets is traded away, these three could be a good trade chip. Likewise, they could make a veteran listed above as expendable. Zamula and Attard have some NHL experience already while Andrae has played well down below.
Brink, Laczynski, and Foerster also have had some NHL ice time. Brink showed off his skills last year, but was hurt this offseason. He’s been slowly getting back into it. Laczynski has also been sidelined with injures this year.
There are some experts who feel that the 2024 NHL draft projects to be better than this one. If that’s the case, the Flyers are in luck as the team has two first rounders for that season, thanks to the Claude Giroux trade
As of right now, there are the draft picks that the Flyers have in the next three drafts:
2023: 1st round, 2 3rd rounds, 2 4th rounds, 5th round, 6th round, 7th round
2024: 2 1st rounds, 2nd round, 3rd round, 4th round, 6th round, 7th round
2025: 1st round, 2nd round 3rd round, 4th round, 5th round, 6th round, 7th round
They could stockpile some of these picks, trade back, package some or move up, or offer them for a star. Again, it’s hard to part with a first round pick, but if it would net you a Timo Meier, that’s a different story.
Draft picks are the future of this team, but several of the recent first and second round picks have yet to pan out. Is it Fletcher or the scouting staff? Or is it one of those unforeseen things, like injuries to players like Sam Morin.
As February rolls on, we’ll just have to see what the Flyers do. We can’t sacrifice the future for now, whatever now is. But if we can add to the “now” and build for “tomorrow” at the same time, that might be our best move, depending on the cost.