When this Philadelphia Flyers season began, everyone knew that the team was in the middle of a rebuild. Daniel Briere and Keith Jones had declared that this team was starting a youth movement and that it may take awhile before the team was back to being relevant.
Yet, here we are halfway into the season and the team has been very competitive. Part of the reason this team has been playing so well has been due, in part, to more consistent play from the team's defense. Two of the better players this year are two of their older players: Sean Walker and Nick Seeler.
The convention dictates that these guys will be traded by the deadline. Both are free agents at the end of this season and both are relatively cheap. In fact, some feel that because of Walker's rejuvenation in Philly, he could be worth a high draft pick if moved before the deadline. If rumors are true, Seeler was inquired about last season as well. Getting good draft picks for both would fit this team's future plans. Failure to move them means you risk losing them to free agency at the end of the season and then you get nothing for them.
However, a funny thing happened. What if the players want to stay? Likewise, what if the team is considering it? A recent article by Kevin Kurz of The Athletic suggests that both are very happy in Philly and want to stay. Obviously, the players would want pay raises and the team should have enough cap room to accommodate them. If the Flyers kept one, or both, players, what would this mean for the team?
As of right now, the team has been rotating through eight defenders, often playing seven in a night. Marc Staal is probably gone at the end of this year. That leaves Cam York, Travis Sanheim, Rasmus Ristolainen, Egor Zamula, and Jamie Drysdale on the roster. Don't forget, the team still has Ronnie Attard, Emil Andrae, Helge Grans, and Adam Ginning waiting in Lehigh Valley. Oliver Bonk isn't too far behind them.
First of all, you can never have too many quality defenders. We've seen before what happens when the injury bug gets a bit too hungry. A seven-man defensive corps of Seeler, Walker, Ristolainen, York, Sanheim, Zamula, and Drysdale seems to be fairly formidable. It's worked so far this year. The development of York and Zamula has gone unabated and Drysdale has had a lot of playing time in his two days of work so far. In fact, having seven solid defenders means that someone can take a night off and rest up.
Secondly, we don't need to re-sign these guys to long term deals like Sanheim and Ristolainen are currently locked into. A contract of two years would probably be worth it. If they are still decent in two years, we could always move them for more assets when the prospects are ready to play full time.
They are also known commodities. We know what we are getting with Seeler and Walker. John Tortorella values them and their abilities. He's trusted them a lot this season. The two of them have been a major part of this team's successes. They may be worth investing in for a bit longer.
Plus, holding onto Seeler and Walker could have other benefits. If this team chooses to become buyers at the deadline, they could add one of their prospects in order to land a shooting forward or top line center. We wouldn't be giving up on the rebuild. We'd be adding to it and perhaps advancing it a bit.
If Walker and Seeler want to stay, it might be worth looking into to. They may be worth signing an extension with. If they fit within Tortorella’s system and are playing at a high level, it might be a smart investment to hold onto them.