This offseason will *hopefully* see Chuck Fletcher, brand spankin’ new head coach Alain Vigneault, and whatever supporting caste of assistant coaches make a number of changes to improve this Flyers team. Some answers can be found via unrestricted free agency. Some can be found in restricted free agency via offer sheets, which may or may not actually be a thing anymore.
Chances are that the Flyers won’t clean house in free agency, and thus will have to address some positions via the trade market. I’m not about to play armchair GM with a ton of trades, but let’s figure out who on the NHL roster we should really be holding onto this offseason.
The Untouchable/Staying Here Unless It’s for McDavid Tier: Carter Hart, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier.
These are the only 3 guys on the team I see as absolutely untouchable. Carter Hart looks to be settling in as the Flyers’ long-term goaltending solution, which is something I still am getting used to saying. Giroux and Couturier remain the top 2 offensive players on this team and can provide plenty of veteran leadership… unless you’re one of those ‘strip the C’ types, in which case you can go ahead and show yourself out. Now, every player does have a price. But unless the return for any of these 3 is stupid good and returns a McDavid type, I’m laughing at the offer, walking away, and holding onto these 3 building blocks.
The Tradable Only for a Really, Really Freakin’ Good Return Tier: Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Shayne Gostisbehere, Nolan Patrick, Philippe Myers.
Up until this year, I probably would have slotted Ghost and Provorov up there in the Untouchables on this team. Ghost looked like one of the best offensive defenseman in the league, and Provorov looked like a rock-solid top pair defenseman who could even move the puck well and put up a decent amount of points. Their noticeable steps backward this season cast at least a bit of doubt into my mind regarding their development. Sanheim and Myers took noticeable steps forward in their development this year, and Patrick still displays excellent hockey IQ along with some decent point production skill despite another very slow start to the year. With all this said, the names in this tier have enough potential upside to make trading them a very difficult decision. I wouldn’t consider any of this tier absolutely untouchable, but a worthwhile trade involving these names had better net a bonafide star player in return.
The Actually Tradable Tier: Jakub Voracek, James Van Riemsdyk, Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, Radko Gudas, Scott Laughton.
This was a tough tier to throw together, especially considering Konecny is one of my favorite players on the team. Konecny and Lindblom both had very solid years, the latter of which took huge steps forward after Hak was gone and he was no longer getting benched for Jori “Life of the Party” Lehterä. Voracek and JVR bring solid point production and veteran experience to any offense. The tricky part of moving these two is their respective cap hits. Gudas had quite the bounceback year after a god awful playoff series against the Penguins and was arguably the team’s best defenseman this season, which speaks more to how bad the defense as a whole was this year (No offense, Radko). Scott Laughton also stepped his game up well this year, setting career highs for goals and assists.
While there’s not too much that’s necessarily bad about any of these guys, the Flyers are inevitably going to have to trade somebody to help make the team better. These are the guys I think you can get some good returns for without necessarily gutting the overall core of this team. It would suck to see some of these guys go, but the only thing I want to see more than these players do well is for the Flyers to win a damn Stanley Cup already.
The ‘Meh’ Tier: Ryan Hartman, Michal Raffl, Cam Talbot, Justin Bailey, Sam Morin.
These players generally do somewhere between “okay” and “pretty well” in their respective roles on the current NHL roster. Barring any moves, Hartman and Raffl will likely make up 2/3 of what should be a pretty darn good NHL 4th line, Laughton being the third player. Morin has shown, in the very least, that he probably deserves to be playing more than Hagg or MacDonald. Bailey seems to be a serviceable 4th liner or quick call-up in case of injury. Talbot may or may not be around as the backup goaltender next year. This tier consists of guys that I see as adequate. Definitely not untouchable, very movable, but what is their actual value? A couple of bottom-6 guys, a young defenseman with an injury history, and a very ‘meh’ goaltender. I see them sticking around only because there probably isn’t a huge market for them.
The “What Exactly Would You Say You Do Here?” Tier: Andrew MacDonald, Robert Hagg, Corban Knight, Phil Varone.
Seriously. Just get them off the roster. I don’t care if we’re trading them for a used Blockbuster gift card. Do it.
I kept most prospects out of these tiers because the valuation is way too subjective from person to person. It’s probably not the best idea to trade a Morgan Frost or a Joel Farabee, but if that nets you a player who matches or exceeds their projected ceiling, you’re essentially skipping the development process and getting their upside now. Fans also have to remember they are prospects. Nothing is set in stone with them. The day will come when the Flyers gamble by trading a prospect. We just have to hope it works out in their favor.
-Brian Adams (@Wx_Adams)
Photo Creds: Jose Moreno via philly.com, NBC Philadelphia, NBC Sports, Al Bello via Courier Post,