The offseason is on the horizon and that means the winds of change are on their way. Even though Chuck Fletcher stayed mum about potential improvements during his end of season press conference, after the Flyers tasted the second round for the first time in eight years and exposed some serious weaknesses doing so, it’s obvious Fletcher should be looking to add to an already impressive Flyers team this fall.
This recurring series usually comes back right before the trade deadline, but this time around, it feels like the appropriate time to revive “Crazy Trade Scenarios” with the Flyers offseason about to take place. Before you read further, remember that these are based on nothing more than rumors and speculation. All the returns for the Flyers have been floated in the trade rumor mill or part of TSN’s trade bait list.
Number 5- Jake Voracek, Joel Farabee and Yegor Zamula for Oliver Ekman-Larsson
One of the more surprising names that appeared on TSN’s top 20 trade bait list was longtime Coyotes defeseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Now a ten-year NHL veteran with 723 games under his belt, the Coyotes finally seem to be on the cusp of success. With the Owners seemingly hands on with the product and new GM Steve Sullivan at the helm, the front office could seek to make chances after the Coyotes were bounced by the Avalanche in five games during round one of the playoffs. With Darcey Kuemper in net and a slew of young players throughout the lineup, they could seek to find a younger leader on their team than the recently-turned-29-year-old OEL. The biggest negative? His $8.25 million cap hit for seven more years.
If the Flyers were to attempt to acquire the veteran defenseman, it would have to start with forward Jake Voracek. Not only would the cap even out, but Voracek would’ve easily lead the team in points this past season with 56. The highest scorer on the Arizona roster is Nick Schmaltz, who scored 11 goals and 45 points. The Flyers would undoubtedly have to sweeten the pot to acquire Ekman-Larsson, and Joel Farabee would be the place to start. Farabee just wrapped up his first full professional season and, even though his 21 points aren’t super impressive, his flexibility in the lineup is. With his ice time ranging from 9 to 19 minutes a night, Farabee has played as a fourth-line grinder to sliding into a top six role with the elite members of the roster, and at just 20 years old his pliability is an intriguing part of his future in the NHL.
Clayton Keller is 22, Schamltz is 24, Christian Dvorak is 24, and Barett Hayton is 20. The Coyotes are the 11th youngest team in the league, a number that gets inflated with the 29th oldest defense core, a veteran forward like Voracek and a young up-and-comer like Farabee could go a long way to help the Coyotes forward group become a better unit overall.
If the pair of forwards isn’t enough, throwing in top defenseman prospect Yegor Zamula may be enough for the Coyotes to seriously consider the move. Zamula had a highly touted junior career and is ready to make the jump to the professional level, a move which may take a little longer to accomplish in Philly with the current logjam at defense. If he can crack the Coyotes roster at some point during the 2020-21 season, the 20-year-old may start paying dividends right away.
This one is probably the least likely to happen, not only in theory but OEL has a no-movement clause for the remainder of his deal, so he’s not going anywhere unless he wants to, but if the Flyers wanted to make a home run addition to their blueline, Ekman-Larsson would be the man for the job.
Number 4- Shayne Gostisbehere and a 2020 1st Round Pick for Detorit’s 2020 2nd round pick
This may not be the craziest trade on this list, but it may be the most realistic. This deal was originally suggested by another Brotherly Puck contributor and it makes sense if the Flyers want an easy out from Ghost. Trading Shayne Gostisbehere and his $4.5 million cap hit should be priority number one this season and this scenario provided them a relatively painless way to go about that. The Flyers are drafting at 23 this season, and the Red Wings’ second round pick will be at 32, so from a draft pick perspective it’s not a huge loss for the Flyers, though it is a nice little incentive for the Red Wings to take on the full contract of Ghost. Unless the Flyers have their eye on somebody specific at 23, moving back to 32 to make their first selection isn’t a big deal in a “win now” mentality the Flyers should be in.
Number 3- Morgan Frost, Scott Laughton and Shayne Gostisbehere for Max Domi and Phillip Danault
There have been rumors coming out of Montreal that the Canadiens could look to move both Max Domi and Phillip Danault, so if you’re an outside team, why not try to pursue both? Both players are in very different roles on the team. It’s no secret Domi is unhappy with his spot on the Canadiens roster, often finding himself in the bottom six wing when he would rather play center, and Danault has become a low-key superstar for the Canadiens with his two-way play, though his contract is up at the end of next season and could look for a big extension, one Montreal may not want to match.
One of the biggest weak spots the Flyers have is their depth down the middle. Nolan Patrick missed the entire 2019-20 season and doesn’t seem like his return is on the horizon, and young forward Morgan Frost hasn’t made the jump to the NHL yet, and that has left the Flyers searching for help, leading to Derek Grant and Nate Thompson being acquired for the playoff push, and we all know how that turned out.
The Habs are in a seemingly endless loop of mediocrity. Not seeing the second round of the playoffs since 2015 and a random group of players, Marc Bergevin could look to make a substantial shakeup as some of their young stars continue to develop.
From a Flyers perspective, this isn’t the easiest of returns to craft. The deal would have to start with Morgan Frost, who despite his less-than-stellar rookie season, is still projected to be a solid middle-six center in the not-too-distant future. Scott Laughton has established himself as a middle-six forward over the past two seasons and when at his peak, can be a second line winger who is a jack of all trades capable of scoring 30 points a season. Ghost has been linked to Montreal for the past two seasons now, and even though they just acquired Edmundson from the Hurricanes, they can still fit Gostisbehere on the blueline.
Would that mix of players be enough? It’s hard to say really. Bergevin has a history of making bonehead trades, so it’s possible to slip any deal past him, but realistically, it’s probably not enough. They may ask for additional prospects or draft picks, but if the Flyers can snag both forwards, it’s a deal they should seriously consider.
The more logical rout for the Flyers is picking up Max Domi on his own. He’s a RFA this coming offseason and, as stated above, lost his charm in Montreal. He would be the exact type of player that is missing from the Flyers bottom-six. A third line center who is capable of 20 goals and 45 points and has no problem getting physical is just what the doctor ordered in Philly. What kind of leverage do the Habs have in Domi right now? Probably not much. It is a safe bet that Scott Laughton for Domi’s rights may be enough to seal the deal for Montreal. Even though Laughton continues to improve, his weakness is the center position and with Lindblom returning and assuming JVR doesn’t get dealt, he is losing his role as a middle-six winger. On the Canadiens roster there are openings available and put next to a Suzuki or Kotkaniemi, Laughton can continue to improve his career, even at 26 years old.
Number 2- Travis Sanheim and Travis Konecny for Patrik Laine
Patrik Laine’s name has once again hit the trade rumor mill and this time it may be time for the Flyers to take a run at the 22-year-old Finn, though the price tag may be steep. The Jets may be hitting the panic button as their once-mighty unit who made the Western Conference Final just two years ago has lost most of the pillars of that team. Pretty much every member of that defense core is gone, and the players that are remaining aren’t getting any younger. Dangling a player like Laine is meant to get a king’s ransom in return to fill multiple holes in a lineup. The Jets probably wouldn’t want any prospects in return, nor any over-the-hill vets. Enter the Travises.
Sanheim just wrapped up his third professional year and played his 200th NHL game. Konecny has played four seasons with 299 games under his belt. Konency has posted three-consecutive 24-goal seasons, a number he surely would’ve surpassed has the season not ended a dozen games early. Sanhiem is still growing into his role as a top four defenseman and the full spectrum of his skills were on display in the 2020 post season. He looked like a top guy during the round robin partnered with Phil Myers and as the playoffs wore on, his play looked panicked, and it resulted in horrible turnovers, sloppy coverage, and lots of falling down. He’s due a contract at the end of next season when his bridge deal expires and maybe pulling the rip cord on Sanheim early may save them some cap issues in the future, example- Shayne Gostisbehere.
Losing Konecny and Sanheim certainly wouldn’t be ideal for this current team, but if Laine can re-find his high-30-to-40-goal output playing in Philly they probably won’t miss TK that much, and with Cam York and Yegor Zamula still on the way, maybe within the next season or two, they may be able to fill and even succeed the role Sanheim plays.
Number 1- Travis Konecny for Brock Boeser
When word got out before the return to play that the Canucks were looking to deal Brock Boeser it was a bit of a surprise, though with a deeper look at their cap space, it became apparent why they want to deal the 23-year-old forward. Boeser’s currently signed to a deal that pays him $5.875 for two more seasons, while Konecny is signed for five more years at $5.5 million, and that is where the caveat is. The Canucks are about to run into some serious cap issues with Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes due contracts next offseason. The Canucks don’t have any long-term contracts on their books right now, as only Tyler Myers is signed for more than three years. Given the new landscape the NHL finds itself in financially, finding players on longstanding contracts that don’t need to be re-upped until the league hopefully returns to normal operations and the salary cap once again increases is exactly what Vancouver needs to do.
From a Flyers perspective, they are getting a player slightly better and more offensively driven than Konecny. Boeser has played in 197 games with 75 goals and 161 points, meanwhile Konecny has played in 299 games with 83 goals and 185 points. Injuries have played a role in Boeser’s career, as he has yet to suit up for a full season, but when he’s healthy he is a better player than Konecny. The Canucks get the peace of mind of a stable cap hit for the forseeable future and the Flyers get an upgrade at forward. This one may required a draft pick or two to get done if the Canucks don’t find a one-for-one appealing enough, but in the long run, it should be a successful move for the Flyers.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: sportsnet.ca/vancouversun.com/sportingnews.com/arizonasports.com