Twenty (Not So) Bold Predictions For 2023-2024 Flyers: Part 3

Oct 13, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella behind the bench against the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 13, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella behind the bench against the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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Ultimately, the Flyers success hinges on the performance of the front office and coaching staff.  Creating a skilled and deep roster is paramount, and is the primary responsibility of general manager Danny Briere. For his part, Briere has started to mold the roster to meet his vision, but the team is not yet on the fast track. He must find a way to move pieces to improve the team and what he does this season will determine how quickly the Flyers can rebuild.

The head coach can have a dramatic impact with the on ice performance. Many talent laiden teams just needed a different voice or vision to lead them. Sadly head coach John Tortorella does nto have the luxury of an underpeforming roster. To be sure, the coach has already left his imprints on the team, even on the personnel front.  But Tortorella’s biggest focus is on creating a badly needed change in culture. This has not been with out its casualties, and the crystal ball says there will be more to come.

Twenty Not So Bold Predicitons (Part 2). light. Related Story

Flyers Sell at the Deadline…..

The cupboard is getting bare, with DeAngelo, who looked like a sure third round pick for a team that needed blue line help, already out of play. There is not much in the way of useful pieces that other teams may want who the Flyers had no intention of re-signing. Walker, Seeler and Staal are all possible trade chips with expiring  contracts who could provide depth to a playoff team. There are some bigger names, but each of them requires some hard decisons.

….We Will be Underwhelmed

Do not look for dramatic returns from the deadline.   We will still have the Ristolainen, Sanheim and Couturier contracts. There will not be giant roster changes, or the capture of some great prospect. The fact is Briere took care of most of that this summer, for better or worse. Look for some third round picks to come the Flyers’ way but not much more than that. There is one possible exception, however.

Scott Laughton is Traded

Laughton will be a casualty of the rebuild, and a warning of sorts to head coach John Tortorella. Laughton is a good player, with a reasonable contract, and is a plus player as a bottom six forward. He has enough skill to play on the second line and not look out of place. Further, it appears to be a market for Scott Laughton. But it may be an cleverly planted mirage.

There is information that supports a Laughton trade while simultaneously supporting the view that Laughton will stay with the Flyers. In June there was a rumor about Laughton being traded for a first round pick to St. Louis. The Flyers eventually traded Hayes to the Blues for very little. Sending Hayes in place of Laughton would seem to be a clear indication that Laughton is going to remain with the Flyers.

Let’s take a moment to think this through. Hayes is 31, Laughton 29, and both are signed through 2026.  Hayes has been the more productive offensive player throughout his career. The Hayes deal gave the Flyers $3.5 million in cap relief, while leaving $3.5 million on the books in the form of salary retention. The alleged Laughton trade would have freed up $3 million in cap space, a half million less than the Hayes trade. Hayes fetched a sixth round pick, Laughton allegedly would have scored the Flyers a first round pick. If these are the facts, something is amiss.

If the Flyers are rebuilding, they are clearing the deck of all the players that do not factor into the rebuild. The team should be looking for picks and prospects in exchange for the useful pieces that do not factor into the future. Laughton should not be a cornerstone of a Flyers rebuild. If he is, we are in real trouble. So why do the Hayes deal, instead of the Laughton deal? Hayes is more productive, and Laughton fetched the higher return, and the cap space is pretty close to identical.  It seems the Flyers would have been better off moving Laughton and waiting for a better deal for Hayes.

Based on the evidence, either the Flyers really, really love Laughton, or this is nothing more than rumor.  In what world is Laughton worth a first round pick?  The trade story is fishy. It is quite coincidental that St. Louis, who received Hayes for next to nothing, is the team involved with the Laughton for a first rounder rumor.

This seems like a rumor that may have been planted by the Blues as a sweetner on the Hayes deal for the Flyers, in order to set the market for Laughton.  The only scenario where this makes sense is that Flyers are looking to move Laughton, but want a premium. I am not sure they get it.  Look for Laughton to be traded for a second or third round pick.

Flyers Do not Trade Travis Sanheim (PARLAY) or Travis Konecny

Sanheim’s contract makes him impossible to move.  If Sanheim starts to play at a Norris level, where his contract makes senses, there is no way he gets traded, as the Flyers have him at a substiatial discount. If he plays like has over the last three seasons, the contract becomes an unwanted obstacle to any suitors. It would be shocking if the Flyers were able to trade Sanheim in the next three years. That makes Travis Konecny the more interesting dilemma to divert focus.

If the Flyers were rational, they would start looking at trading Konecny this season. I have not seen any indications of that mindset from the new front office. It comes down to these questions. First, what is the value of Konecny to the Flyers in 2025? If the Flyers are still bad, it means he has not moved the needle and therefore a luxury for a bad team, not a building block. As a UFA, he may want to sign with a better team.

If the team is good, how much of it was because of Konecny? There would likely be other players that contributed who would also like large contracts.  Would Konecny command Jamie Benn money or Nathan MacKinnon money? It should be pointed out that the Flyers already have over $28 million of 2025 cap space committed to Ellis, Hayes, Sanheim, Ristolainen, and the oft injured Couturier. If we game this out, Konecny does not seem to fit into a long term rebuild.

The second question is when will he be at peak value? Last season, he netted 31 goals in 60 games, nearly elite production, and a career best.  Even playing 60 games, his cost per goal stood at $177,419. This proved better value than players like Tavares, Debrincat, Eichel, Point, Dubois, Marner, Crosby, Giroux, Hughes and two Tkachuks. I would guess this is pretty close to peak value for Konecny with a team friendly 5.5 million cap hit. This is probably the best time to trade Konency. I am not confident the team has reached a similar conclusion, or even considered it.

Carter Hart is Not Traded

What is the Flyers’ goaltending position if there is no drama. Hopefully a solidly good season from Hart.  It is clear that the Flyers are addressing the position’s depth within the organization, grabbing two goalies in this year’s draft. Hart is also in a contract year, but would still only have RFA status if/when he hits free agency. The Flyers have Felix Sandstrom, and Samuel Errson, both of whom appear to be capable of starting in the NHL. Cal Petersen and his 5 million dollar a season contract are also around as well. All signs would seem to point to a trade, but I don’t believe it will come to pass.

The Flyers, and anyone who has watched the team over the last few seasons, can see that Hart is a lot better than his numbers. He is the only source of light in an otherwise dismal defense. Given the condition of the defense, his numbers won’t be great, which means teams will undervalue him in trade talks.  This difference in perceived value should dissuade the front office from parting with Hart. Hart’s toned down numbers give the Flyers a chance to sign a potential franchise goalie long term for below market value. There is no reason for the Flyers to be anything but patient and to maximize value becuase Hart is a restricted free agent, allowing the Flyers to match any offer sheet.

Short of a Vezina level season, and a offer that has two first round picks, two second round picks and a high end prospect, expect Hart to stay put.