With the 2020 NHL playoffs in the books and the winds of change starting to blow as the offseason draws near, the Philadelphia Flyers roster may start to look a little different. The front runner to be dealt away is defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. Returning from a knee injury that derailed his season, he was given every opportunity to make his mark and rejoin the Flyers lineup on a nightly basis. He suited up for five of the Flyers 16 playoff games and racked up two assists in that time. Ghost’s play was careless enough that he was not trusted to play on a night-to-night basis and found himself a healthy scratch in favor of Robert Hagg. After once again failing to reclaim his roster spot, one has to wonder if his time is up in Philadelphia. If Gostisbehere and his $4.5 million cap hit were to be dealt in the offseason, where would he likely end up?
Number 5- Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers entire strategy on the ice seems to be “score more goals than your opponent no matter the cost”, and with that thinking, Ghost may be their guy. Their cap space ins’t necessarily abundant, but it wouldn’t be impossible to maneuver around given Mike Green is retiring. The best way to get the most out of a player like Gostisbehere would be to line him up on the powerplay with guys like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The Oilers’ blueline isn’t necessarily set in stone and given another early playoff exit, they may be inclined to shake things up.
Number 4- Pittsburgh Penguins
Giving your cross-state rival a potential 65-point defenseman may not be the smartest move, but the Penguins are starting to feel the heat of their Stanley Cup window finally starting to close and could look to spark their blueline, which has had it’s fair share of issues this season. Justin Schultz’s contract is up, everybody hates Jack Johnson, and their depth is lackluster to say the least. Ghost really wouldn’t solve any of their defensive issues, but going along the same theory as Edmonton, Ghost quarterbacking Crosby and Malkin on the powerplay could help the Pens quite a bit.
Number 3- Winnipeg Jets
After another disappointing season ended with a qualifying round exit to the Calgary Flames, the Jets may be getting anxious to capitalize with their current roster they have before it’s too late. As of right now the Jets only have four defenseman locked up for next season, though chances are a couple are re-signed this summer. They have lost pretty much every player they’ve relied on over the past three seasons including Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, Toby Enstrom, Ben Chiarot, and Tyler Myers. Adding a vet like Ghost may be a longshot, but for a team as desperate for help on the blueline as the Jets, it may be worth the risk.
Number 2- Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are in the midst of a full-on rebuild and even a player as inconsistent as Ghost would be a huge upgrade on their blueline. Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley are both 36-years-old and on expiring contracts, Patrick Nemeth and Danny DeKeyser wouldn’t be in the top four of most contending teams, and most of the Red Wings top prospects aren’t on the roster yet. Ericsson coming off the books would alone be enough to cover Ghost’s cap space and it’d be a massive improvement on the ice. Ghost may not be the ideal player to build a franchise around, but if he’s the guy the Red Wings focus on, it will be Ghost’s best chance to find his stride and get his career back on track.
Number 1- Montreal Canadiens
The team that has had longstanding ties to Gostisbehere in the rumor mill has been the Montreal Canadiens, so could this be the year they finally strike? The Habs were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers, but not before they upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the qualifying round. The Canadiens were carried by three defeseman in the playoffs, that being Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, and Ben Chiarot. All three are around next season but beyond that, their blueline is pretty shallow. They have enough cap space already to take on Gostisbehere’s contract in full, and the roster spot for him to take, and maybe they’re a little more hungry after an all-in-all solid playoff showing.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: sportsnet.ca