Last year, the Philadelphia Flyers overhauled their team’s administration. Daniel Briere took over as general manager, while Keith Jones took over as head of hockey operations. They announced something that fans knew for a while: the team was in a rebuild. They asked the fans to be patient, yet the players had some optimism that it might not take that long. After all, some recent draft picks looked promising, and the team had some foundational pieces to work with. It was expected that, in a few years, this team would be ready to become a powerhouse again.
A quick look at the standings shows that the Flyers are exceeding expectations. The young players are coming along while the vets are healthy and playing well enough. It is true that this team is no real Stanley Cup contender yet. However, they are better off than what we thought back in August and September.
If the Flyers keep up at this pace, they will make the playoffs. How high of a seed is yet to be determined. However, they appear to be playoff-bound, barring any major catastrophic outbreak of injuries or turn in play.
So, if the Flyers are in a position to make the playoffs, what should they do? Should they “buy” at the deadline and, perhaps, give up some future pieces to “win now”? Should they “sell” some assets, possibly hurt their playoff chances this season, but put themselves in a better position to be stronger next year and the years after? Is there a combination of the two that the team can do to get a bit of both?
These are not easy questions to answer. I guarantee you that John Tortorella, Briere, and Jones are strategizing what is best for this team’s future success. Here are some things that the team should look at.
If The Flyers Sell
The Flyers do not have a lot of unrestricted free agents this season. All of them are defenders: Sean Walker, Marc Staal, and Nick Seeler. All three have played well this season, with Walker and Seeler being wonderful surprises. They could easily be traded away for future assets while allowing younger players a chance to play. This may hurt the team this season, but give us great dividends for years to come.
Briere will have to determine where this team stands with Carter Hart and Travis Konecny. If Hart isn’t part of this team’s future, the trade deadline will be the time to move him. If the team wants to extend him, now is the time to figure that out. Keeping Hart could make Cal Petersen expendable, especially to a playoff team that may have an injured goaltender (Carolina, perhaps?).
As for Konecny, it comes down to him. If he wants to stay, he should be the guy they build around. It may be easier and wiser to move him after the season is over if he wants to leave.
If The Flyers Buy
What will they need? A player with playoff experience could help. A player like, Jeff Carter, or Patrick Kane could give a team of young players a boost. This is provided, of course, that they would fit in with Torts' system and the clubhouse.
But players like that would cost this team a lot of assets that they might not want to lose. Instead, there are some depth pieces, like Andrew Cogliano or Cal Clutterbuck, who might be easier to get without mortgaging the 2024-25 season.
If anything, it might come down to the health of the team. If someone big like Konecny or Sean Couturier went down with a season-ending injury, the team may be willing to purchase a bigger name. Or, it may force the front office’s hand and cause them to sell and scrap the season until next year.
Either way, the next two months will be a lot of fun to watch. The Flyers are playing the best hockey we’ve seen from them in years. They are scrappy and find ways to stay in games. That sort of hockey breeds success and confidence. We may be witnessing the end of their rebuild soon.