With the deadline approaching, the time for the Flyers to determine what they are going to do will need to be soon. They have lost five straight games heading into the All-Star break. They are comfortably in third place in the Metropolitan. In the first year of an official rebuild, could the Flyers be sellers at the deadline and make a run at the postseason? That is a very big possibility.
Sean Walker is one of the names at the top of the list regarding potential movement. He has garnered interest for the majority of the season as the defenseman has revived his career in Philadelphia. Thanks to John Tortorella and defensive guru Brad Shawn, Walker has been playing some of his best hockey. That led to possible extension talks in Philadelphia.
And then Cutter Gauthier wanted out of Philadelphia. He was sent to Anaheim, where the Flyers received Jamie Drysdale in return. Now, it's likely that Walker will be the deadline trade he was expected to be when he first arrived.
""I think (Sean) Walker is less likely to be signed, not because they don't want him, just because I think ever since Drysdale got there I think you could see where this could potentially go. For Walker, I've heard Edmonton, I've heard Tampa...I always wonder about Toronto for defencemen, Toronto is looking for D, but I think Walker is going to be out there”"- Elliotte Friedman
If it weren't for Drysdale's arrival, Walker could've found himself making Philadelphia home long-term. Now, the Flyers can reap the benefits of Walker's newfound confidence. The Flyers are rumored to be looking for a first-round pick in return as Walker is said to be looking for a contract in the $4-to-$5 million range. He will hit free agency this summer, so any team acquiring him at the deadline is likely doing so as a rental.
Walker has been talked about as one of the best available options on the trade market, behind Chris Tanev. The market for rental defensemen is hard to determine. The Flames are said to be looking for a similar price to that of Walker. Nikita Zadorov was traded earlier this season for a third and fifth round pick. He is in the second year of a 3.75M contract and will be a UFA this summer.
Looking at the teams Friedman mentioned as possible landing spots for Walker, we first have to look at which ones have a first round pick available to them. The Leafs have a 2024 and 2026 at their disposal, with their 2025 pick traded away in Feb. of last season. Edmonton has a first-round pick in each of the next three drafts. The Lightning previously traded away their 2024 and 2025 picks, so they don't make sense for the Flyers to trade with.
Now, there is a chance the Flyers could look to bring a younger player back in return. They have long been open to taking on reclamation projects. They did that this past summer with Ryan Poehling, who turned that into a two-year extension to remain in Philadelphia. Looking at that avenue is when the cap becomes more of an issue. The Flyers are expected to have just over 900K available to them at the deadline. Anything they move out will need to be equal to or less than who they trade.
This is where Ryan Ellis comes in. The Flyers have not placed his contract on LTIR, even though he is not expected to play hockey again. They haven't needed to use his cap relief as of yet. That time could be coming. It wasn't long ago when they were rumored to be shopping his contract to a team that needed to reach the salary floor. Moving him to LTIR would open 6.25M for them to use.
Edmonton is the only team that could have enough space to work with to take on Walker. They are projected to have over 4M available at the deadline. The one name that has been linked to the Flyers in the past is Philip Broberg. He is playing in the AHL, having fallen down the depth chart with the Oilers. He has 16 points in 24 games with the Bakersfield Condors. With the Oilers, he averaged 10:31 of ice time and had no points in 10 games. The perfect candidate for a change of scenery?
There is still over a month until the deadline so the rumors will continue to fly until then. And the Flyers will likely be in the middle of them.