The Philadelphia Flyers are playing well enough right now that they could be in the postseason conversation. Not as in they will bring Lord Stanley's Cup in a parade down Broad Street conversation, but in the conversation that they could potentially make it to the postseason. With this in mind, you have to wonder what the team management is thinking about next year and the year beyond.
Obviously it does a "rebuilding" team no good if you are thinking only about what is good for this year only. You have to keep looking a year or two or five down the road. What are the long term projections for this team?
While this team is playing good with the current players on the roster, we all know that there are some highly prized prospects down below that should be, all good things coming to pass, making their mark on the NHL by lighting it up for Philly. That means we may have to jettison some players now. Sure enough, if we make the playoffs, we'd miss these guys, but the rest of the team would gain some valuable playoff experience that they could apply to next year and the years beyond.
With that in mind, what five Flyers would most likely be traded away during this season before the trade deadline? Who could the Flyers turn into future assets?
Fun fact: The Flyers only have three pending UFAs. All of them happen to be defenders and all of them are on this list. Cheap and reliable brings you prospects and draft picks. And by trade deadline time, the teams that are expected to go deep are willing to mortgage a future to win now. An arms race will start in early February and the Flyers can tip the balance for several teams.
For that reason, Walker is on this list. This one is painful because he is playing so well and has thrived here in Philly. It really would come down to whether or not John Tortorella, Daniel Briere, and Keith Jones feel that it is worth having a solid vet on defense like him or if it is worth trading him off to gain more.
Either way, he's having a solid season and the team has really benefited from him being on the back end. Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need as well as a second chance to prove yourself.
You could pretty much copy and paste everything said about Walker here for Seeler. The two have become one of the unlikeliest top defensive parings in the NHL this season. Seeler was asked about last year during the trade deadline and I would imagine that after a second stellar season of doing all the grunt work, he'd be a prime candidate to move.
He's also cheap. He's not making a ton of money. Teams like that, especially those hard pressed on the salary cap. It'd be a shame to see him go, but the same rules apply here as the do for Walker. Keep him and lose out on a young player (like Egor Zamula) or move him and hope for the best? What's the right answer?
I know it seems like I am picking on the defense, but this is where our most tradeable assets currently lie. This is almost a no brainer. When he signed here, we knew what this was about. He was coming in, as a favor to Tortorella. He would help mentor the young guys and help them improve their game. At the trade deadline, he'd be moved to a contender.
Staal has been good when he's been on the ice. He's also been injured a lot too. He still has value to this team. He can bring some value, due to his career experiences to a contender looking for a deep playoff run. After all, he was part of Florida's run last year. Expect him to be moved.
This is a tricky one. He's played very well this year so far. Lately, he's been playing like the Carter Hart of old; keeping the team in the thick of the fight every game. He's also an RFA at the end of the season. Will the team extend him? Will they move on from him? After all, there are a lot of prospects ready and waiting to play and prove themselves.
The Flyers have a goalie conundrum with Hart, Cal Petersen, Sam Ersson, and Felix Sandstrom. They really can't keep them all. Someone will be traded. But who? Petersen will cost too much. Sandstrom isn't worth giving up assets for. It'll come down to Ersson and Hart.
Hart would be a great example of a sign and trade. Especially if some team loses a goalie to an injury. With a team like that, the Flyers could really poach them for picks and prospects. Again, it all comes down to Hart. If he is the goalie of the present and future, this is all a moot point. If the team is ready to move on, this is the time to do it; especially if he continues to play well.
Most of the young forwards are most likely going to be here a while barring some sort of controversy between the player and coach (Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost). Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, and Travis Konecny are the established veteran stars. That leaves Atkinson.
Atkinson would be a painful subtraction. He has a great relationship with Tortorella. He has really come on strong this season after missing all of last season with an injury. It's almost as if he hasn't missed a step.
He will be a free agent next year. The team could move him to a contender so he can finally win a Stanley Cup. His veteran experience, his work ethic, and his ability to score would make him an attractive addition to many teams. It'd be hard to lose him, but he could be playing for someone else in the spring.