It’s that time of year again. The NHL trade deadline is on the horizon and, with the Flyers hovering on the playoff bubble, it’s time to Fly or Die… or Now or Never… or whatever the whacky slogan is this week.
Just like last season, We’re in the market for a huge trade. Some groundbreaking, blockbuster moves that goes down in history as the trade that leads the Flyers to a Stanley Cup. Here are the top five crazy trade scenarios that could actually happen.
WARNING: The likelihood of any of these trades happening are slim, but they all work out mathematically cap-wise and roster wise, so just enjoy, please don’t @ me.
Number 5- Nolan Patrick, Morgan Frost, James Van Riemsdyk, 1st round pick for Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athansiou
In terms of viability, this one is by far the least likely to actually happen, but it peaks my interest nonetheless. The Red Wings are in the doldrums and have their sights set on the first overall pick in the 2020 draft, and will no doubt be sellers at the deadline, looking to get picks and prospects for any roster player of value.
Dylan Larkin is one of the only bright spots for the Red Wings this season, and really over the past few seasons. As the Wings rebuild sinks on, Larkin’s approaching the peak of his career with no real help in sight. Soon to be 24, Larkin has 13 goals and 36 points in 51 games this season, coming off a 31-goal, 73-point season last year. He has three years left on a contract that pays him $6.1 million a season.
Athanasiou can play both wings and center, a versatility that none of the current Flyers forwards can do comfortably. While not the most consistent scorer, registering just five goals so far this season, but coming off a 30-goal campaign last year, he provides speed on the ice and a crafty offensive ability the Flyers depth desperately lacks.
Obviously to pry two of the best players out of Detroit the price comes at a premium. Morgan Frost has shown some flashes of brilliance during his first pro season, but not enough to play consistently excellent hockey at either the AHL or NHL level. Nolan Patrick has missed the whole season with migraine issues, but is still a former second overall pick with plenty of potential when he was healthy. Adding two young players with huge potential between them could be a huge addition for the Red Wings, especially if Alexis Lafreniere falls in their lap in June.
James Van Riemsdyk would be added to the mix mainly as a cap dump, because Larkin and Athanasiou combine for a $9.1 million cap hit, but also as a veteran leader for the young core of Detroit. The first round pick could help entice the Wings to split with Larkin.
4- Brian Elliott, Shayne Gostisbehere, 2nd round pick for Jonathan Quick
The Flyers goaltending is at an interesting crossroads. They have superstar-in-the-making Carter Hart, but back-up Brian Elliott is getting older and is in the last year of his contract with no real immediate solution after him.
The LA Kings are in the basement of the Western Conference and are entering a rebuilding phase, and will soon enter a full teardown mode. Jonathan Quick has two Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy, as well as two Jennings Trophies under his belt, but his play has started to trail off in recent years. He hasn’t hit the .900 save percentage mark or 3.00 goals against in the past two seasons. Some of that may be attributed to aging, but it could also be attributed to a sub-par Kings squad.
Quick has three years left on his current contract at a $5.8 million cap hit, which certainly isn’t ideal, but as far as solid backups go, a tandem of Carter Hart and Jonathan Quick would be a great one-two punch for the Flyers, who have struggled to produce two solid goaltenders at the same time.
Elliott would be a placeholder to finish out the season in LA. The Kings have goalie prospect Cal Petersen waiting in the wings to make his leap to the NHL level, and clearing Jonathan Quick could open the door for him.
Moving Ghost in the deal would be mainly to work out cap wise, but it would also give LA another trade chip for a quick flip if they wanted to. Rumor has it that defenseman Alec Martinez could be on his way out the door, so Ghost could replace him on the roster.
Number 3- James Van Riemsdyk, Robert Hagg, 1st round pick for Wayne Simmonds and Sami Vatanen
It’s no secret the Devils are a hot mess and will be in full-sell mode and the Flyers should do their due diligence to not only pick up a rental, but dump some salary too. At this point, Wayne Simmonds is just a shell of the player he used to be. Sitting at just five goals and 19 points, he is far-removed from the 30-goal scorer he once was. However, there is one thing Simmonds still can bring to the table- leadership. The Flyers still lack an identity, and even though Chris Stewart has helped the younger players, he doesn’t have the same feel as Simmonds did for years.
Sami Vatanen would be a nice pickup for the Flyers as a rental for the playoffs, and a potential signing if they choose to not bring back Justin Braun in the summer. Given the Flyers defense has been erratic this season, having a proven talent on the back end could come in handy if more injures pop up, or one of the younger players struggles in the playoff atmosphere.
James Van Riemsdyk would immediately jump into the Devils top-six to provide some stability on an otherwise weak team. Robert Hagg would replace Vatanen on the blueline, and lets face it, if you want to tank, adding Robert Hagg to your team is the way to do it. Throwing in a first round pick would sweeten the pot for the rebuilding Devils, and help them eat JVR’s contract.
Number 2- Shayne Gostisbehere, Phil Myers, 1st round pick for Jake Muzzin and Tyson Barrie
Is this one bizarre? Yes.
Does it make me tingle all over? Absolutely.
When you mention trading Gostisbehere to Flyers fans, most of the time their main argument against it is “well Ghost will find his game somewhere else,” and that is exactly how you sell this trade. Imagine Ghost and his offensive potential on the same team as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and co. Phil Myers has shown plenty of potential with the Phantoms, but has not been able to bring the same level of play at the NHL level, so maybe selling high simply as a precaution could be the best move in the long run.
Both Muzzin and Barrie are on expiring contracts ($4 million and $2.7 million respectively) both of which would be almost impossible for the Leafs to re-sign. Ghost is signed for three more years at $4.5 million, while Myers is on his expiring ELC, but given his less-than-stellar play, a cheap bridge deal could be in his future, meaning the cap space the Leafs currently have invested in Barrie and Muzzin this season would essentially stay the same for the next season or two with Ghost and Myers.
For the Flyers, They would get a brand new second line defense pair in Muzzin and Barrie. Sure, they wouldn’t have the same level of offensive potential that Ghost and Myers bring, but they would be two overall better players. Re-signing both in the offseason could present a challenge without moving an over-priced veteran, but if the Flyers really want to make a statement and approach the playoffs with the best roster, this is the definitely the best way to do it.
If you’re not convinced yet, I’ll just leave this here.
Number 1- James Van Riemsdyk for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
In terms of likeliness of happening and addressing needs, this is definitely the most realistic scenario. The Oilers have quite a disparity between their top two players and the rest of the roster. to be specific, there is a 42 point difference between second and third on the team in points as of the writing of this piece. RNH has one year left at $6 million, while JVR has three years left at $7 million, which means, in the short term, The money would be just about even, and Edmonton has enough cap space left right now to absorb the extra million between the two. Van Riemsdyk still has to potential to score goals, but after being paired with pretty much everybody on the Flyers roster at some point or another, it’s clear there isn’t a solution here. If he goes to Edmonton and gets put on a line with McDavid or on the league-leading powerplay, he will undoubtedly see a spike in his production.
The benefit for the Flyers is pretty simple. They get a third line center on a much shorter contract than JVR. They can keep Giroux on the wing, and have a center depth of Couturier/Hayes/RNH which would be huge, especially considering Nolan Patrick’s return still isn’t on the horizon. This move could also act as the Flyers pre-summer roster addition, so they wouldn’t have to overpay a third line center in a shallow free agent market.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: thestar.com