The NHL trade deadline has loomed for months, and it will finally arrive next week, on March 3rd. For the Philadelphia Flyers, that likely means that a few pieces of the current roster will no longer be around. James van Riemsdyk is almost a certainty to be dealt, of course. Perhaps he’ll be joined by fellow pending free agents Justin Braun and Patrick Brown. And maybe the Flyers will find enough interest in Nick Seeler to move him, as well. Beyond that, a trade involving one of their existing, hefty contracts like Kevin Hayes or Ivan Provorov isn’t likely, although you never know.
The point is, once the dust has settled, the Flyers must treat their 20 remaining games after the trade deadline as a trial run for some younger players. It will be time to bring Ronnie Attard back up to see how he might fit into blueline plans of the future, and the same can probably be said for Yegor Zamula. Seeler, even if he sticks around after March 3rd, should be treated as a spare part (at least until John Tortorella sees fit to bench another veteran).
Once we clear the NHL trade deadline, the Philadelphia Flyers have to look toward the future.
Up front, Bobby Brink would make a nice addition to the forward corps. He seems to be rounding into form with the Phantoms after his offseason hip surgery, and it would be a valuable experience to get him back up with the Flyers after his first taste of NHL action last year (0 goals, 4 assists in 10 games) didn’t go all too well. For a young man to come back from a major procedure and score a few goals in the NHL later that year would be a huge boost for him going forward. I’d personally hate to get to the end of the Flyers season without seeing him again.
Tyson Foerster needs to come up for his first NHL experience, as well. He hasn’t been setting the world on fire with Lehigh Valley this year, although he’s been good enough to make the AHL all-star game along with Attard, but getting a few games in for the Orange and Black down the stretch would give him a push and benefit him greatly. Guys like Brown (if he is still on the team) and Zack MacEwen (if he’s even healthy by then) can be relegated to press box duty to make way for the future of the team.
I’d even deem Elliot Desnoyers as worthy of a recall. If he can provide a much-needed jolt to this team, which is decidedly too high in the standings at this point to improve their Connor Bedard odds very much, then that’s a positive development. Olle Lycksell, already up with the Flyers, should be given a long look as well.
Lastly, the elephant in the room is the big one, Cutter Gauthier. It’s entirely possible that he could decide to jump from the college ranks and sign a pro contract in time to join the club before the end of this season. It’s not very likely, mind you, but a surprise appearance by Gauthier would be just the kind of thing to wet the whistle of of desperate Flyers fans who are about to witness their team miss the playoffs for the third straight season for the first time in over three decades. (Side note: the last time this happened, the Flyers made a big trade you might remember).
At any rate, a glimpse of Gauthier plus some lottery luck (again, unlikely, but one can dream), and maybe the Flyers have a puncher’s chance of bringing some excitement into the 2023-24 NHL season. It’s about all we can hope for at this current juncture.
Regardless of how things play out around the trade deadline, this club needs to commit to giving some ice time to these potential building block players over the final 20 games of this lost season. It would check an important box on the long to-do list of how to get the Flyers back to being relevant again.