Should the Flyers Pursue Jake Guentzel?

There is a chance the Penguins could move on from Jake Guentzel. If the Flyers are interested, they might be better off waiting to see if he hits free agency.
There is a chance the Penguins could move on from Jake Guentzel. If the Flyers are interested, they might be better off waiting to see if he hits free agency. / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

The Flyers are moving forward in their rebuilding plans. So far, they are looking pretty good. Their young stars are performing well, they seem to be heading to the playoffs, and their new administration has seemingly turned the fortunes of this team around. With this in mind, eyes are now looking to what Philly will do at the upcoming trade deadline. Will they buy? Will they sell? Who knows right now?

However, 300 miles west along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Flyers' greatest rival is figuring out what their future holds. Pittsburgh is near the bottom of the Metropolitan Division standings and is a few spots down from making the playoffs. Their dream of reuniting Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Kris Letang for one more run at the Stanley Cup is crashing down around them. In short, they got old. To be honest, they are where the Flyers were about 4-5 years ago.

With this in mind, one of their best players, Jake Guentzel, is a free agent at the end of this season. He is 29 years old and well on his way to a 35+ goal season. According to a report, if he won't sign an extension with the Penguins, he could be traded. If that happens, this is probably a white flag of surrender for this season.

If Guentzel is available, should the Flyers pursue him? Should they try to acquire him? This is a complicated set of questions. While yes, they should pursue him, no they should not acquire him. Let me explain.

If Daniel Briere wishes to put Guentzel in orange and black instead of gold, I'm all for it. However, that should come after he is a free agent and the team has locked up Travis Konecny. He would be a great addition to the team.

In eight years in the NHL, Guentzel has topped the 30-goal mark three times and 20 goals in four more. He has 22 tallies with 27 assists, all of which would lead Philly. At 29, he is in his prime. He is one of the best wingers in the game and could easily go off with Konecny, Owen Tippett, or Joel Farabee playing on his line. He also has the experience of winning a Stanley Cup, something none of the current roster can attest to.

However, I would not trade for him. Acquiring him would be costly, at least one first-rounder, if not more. If the Flyers are seeking a first-round pick for Sean Walker or Scott Laughton, Pittsburgh can ask for, expect, and receive more than that. Nope. I don't want to see Philly arming the Pens with more picks with which to rebuild.

But if Guentzel hits the open market in June, that is a different story. He would probably be looking for a hefty raise from his current $6 million salary. Like Konecny, he could command anywhere from $8.5 to $11 million. That's a lot of money, but he can deliver the goods.

More importantly, how much fun would it be to stick it to Pittsburgh? How great would it be to see him on a line with Sean Couturier and Konecny across from Crosby? If you can do anything to bring down a rival, you do it. Adding Guentzel to the mix would just be icing on the cake. If he is a free agent this summer, Briere should put his agent on speed dial.