This offseason has been busy for many teams in the NHL. For two teams in the Metropolitan Division, this has been a very active offseason. The Philadelphia Flyers have traded away Kevin Hayes, Ivan Provorov, and released Tony DeAngelo. The reigning divisional leader Carolina Hurricanes haven’t been slouches either. They added Dmitri Orlov and DeAngelo to their defense, Michael Bunting to their offense, and re-signed goaltenders Antti Raanta and Frederik Andersen.
The Hurricanes have several needs, however. Andersen and Raanta are not a bad duo to have in net, but they have been injured often over the last few years. Plus, if there is any hole this team has, it is between the pipes. Likewise, they have 10 pending unrestricted free agents and three RFAs that they’ll need to extend. To add to those personnel issues, they have only $920,000 in salary cap space left.
Because of the many players they have to reup next year, someone is going to have to go. All summer, they have been engaged in talks in moving solid defender Brett Pesce. They are looking for a good return for him, but because he is one of the ten free agents to be, they are not getting the deal they want for him.
This is where Carolina and Philadelphia can help each other out greatly. Both teams can strike a deal that would, in many ways, solve several of their problems.
What’s in it for the Hurricanes?
To start, the Hurricanes get a young, potential-franchise goalie. It is becoming more and more likely that Hart’s time in Philadelphia could be over this year. True, the team could wait until the trade deadline and possibly get some draft picks out of the deal, but the return here from Carolina could be more than adequate. If the Hurricanes do a sign-and-trade deal for Hart, they can lock up a goalie for the long term. He would also be buffeted by Raanta and Andersen if he falters or gets hurt.
Rod Brind’Amour is a great coach. He has a knack for turning “ok” players into something better. Wade Allison, Tanner Laczynski, and Egor Zamula, despite being young, are not guaranteed a roster spot this year. Allison and Zamula have had trouble staying healthy, and they have not taken full advantage of the playing time they’ve been afforded when healthy. Laczynski, after returning from injury, did not impress Flyers coach John Tortorella much. Perhaps Brind’Amour can help to retool and refocus these young assets. If not, they can be flipped for picks and prospects.
The biggest thing that Carolina will get is cap relief. This trade would shed a hair over $8 million in salary while taking on about $6.3 million. This would leave Philly with almost $1 million in cap space, but give the Hurricanes almost $2 million. That could help them re-sign players like Martin Necas, Teuvo Teravainen, Brady Skjei, or Jordan Martinook.
What’s In it For the Flyers?
The Flyers would lose Hart, but gain Pyotr Kochetkov. The 24 year old has been lighting up the AHL. In two seasons, he’s won 30 of 41 starts for the Chicago Wolves. In two seasons in Raleigh, he’s gone 15-7-5 with four shutouts. Kochetkov’s goals-against-average is 2.43 and his save percentage is 0.908; he sounds awesome, right? So why would Carolina want to move him?
Firstly, the Russian has had some issues staying healthy. Another issue is that he is a bit of a hothead, which has helped him create a habit of taking really dumb penalties (think Jordan Binnington).
Carolina can get a goalie who has more experience than Kochetkov, has similar stats, but is not as likely to get in trouble on the ice. That would make Brind’amour happy. For the Flyers, they can assess whether or not Kochetkov is a good fit in the long-term. If not, he’s got four years left at $2 million. With his abilities, he’d be an easy player to ship out at the trade deadline with a salary just over half of Hart’s. If Torts can reign in his impetuousness, Kochetkov can be one of the top goalies in this league. If he can learn to control his temper, he can be lights out. And so far, he’s been unable to do that.
Jesper Fast is not going to turn a lot of heads. In two seasons in Carolina, he’s scored 14 and 10 goals. He’s not going to light the lamp a lot. However, he is a workhorse. He’d fit in nicely on the third line for a Flyers team looking to build a contender, and will be under team control through next year.
Yes, the Flyers will be losing three young players (not counting Hart), but this in and of itself will help the rebuilding process. Zamula’s departure would give a player like an Emil Andrae, a Ronnie Attard, or an Adam Ginning the chance to make the team. Likewise, losing Laczynski and Allison gives Jackson Cates, Olle Lycksell, Zayde Wisdom, Bobby Brink, or Elliot Desnoyers a chance to start playing full-time at the NHL level.
The key to this deal would be Pesce. If the veteran would do accept a sign-and-trade, he would instantly become the team’s best defensive player and could be paired up with Cam York. Pesce could provide York a lot of stability and give him a sense of confidence playing alongside a shutdown defender like he’s never seen here in Philly before. If Pesce doesn’t want to stay in Philly, the Flyers could move him for a considerable haul at the trade deadline.
Both teams could probably get a larger haul for Hart and Pesce in Feb. 2024 compared to right now. However, Hart and Pesce fill needs that both teams need to address. It would be better, for the Hurricanes in particular, to address their needs now rather than when they are deep into the season. Carolina could have their goalie of the future while the Flyers would have a stable defensive player who can make their blueline corps stronger.
The other players moved would be there to help Carolina shed some cap space while gaining some young talent. Likewise, the Flyers would be getting some veteran players, without commitment, that could help out the rebuild, while gaining a goaltender who could fit into their long-term plans. In turn, that could make Cal Petersen, Felix Sandstrom, and/or Sam Ersson expendable.
Another reason this deal is ideal for both teams is lack of commitments. Outside of Kochetkov, nobody has a contract longer than one more season. If anyone works out, they could be re-signed. If not, they could be moved for assets at some point. More importantly, nobody loses any valuable draft picks; which both teams really want to hold onto as they approach crucial years in their timelines.