As the 2020 NHL draft and free agency is breaking on the horizon, the NHL trade rumor mill is in full force. One of the more baffling rumors that have emerged in the past few days revolves around Johnny Gaudreau coming home to his childhood team the Philadelphia Flyers.
On a podcast hosted by former Flyer Scottie Upshall and Jimmy Hayes, Kevin’s older brother, it was suggested that the return for Gaudreau-to-Philly would be Jake Voracek, Shayne Gostisbehere, and “a high end prospect.” The rumor was met with bewilderment from the fans as to why it would happen.
Gaudreau, now 27 years old, just wrapped up his seventh professional season where he scored 18 goals and 58 points in 70 games, as well as chipping in 7 points in the Flames’ 10 playoff games. Voracek is 31 and has 12 NHL seasons under his belt, most recently scoring 12 goals and 56 points in 69 games during the 2019-20 campaign. Gostisbehere will turn 28 in the spring and ended his 2019-20 injury-riddled season with just five goals and 12 points in 42 games.
The biggest head scratcher here is why would the Flames take not one, but two, of the Flyers’ worst contracts off their books? Voracek is set to make $8.25 million for four more seasons and Ghost is due $4.5 million per season for three more years. Meanwhile Gaudreau makes a cool $6.75 million for just two more seasons.
After another early playoff exit, the rumors were out there that the Flames could look to shake up the core as a way to send a message to the team, but is this really the way to do it?
Here’s the thing, if you’re Chuck Fletcher and Brad Treliving calls you with that proposal, you say yes ten out of ten times. Clearing out $13 million (closer to $6 million if you add on Gaudreau’s contract) in cap space in the flat cap era while also getting Johnny Hockey in return and all it costs is a high end prospect, say, Morgan Frost? That’s a great deal for the Flyers and leaves the question- Why would the Flames make that kind of move?
Well, from a defensive perspective, Ghost may be just what the doctor ordered. The Flames currently only have three defenseman under contract for the 2020-21 season, one of which being 37-year-old Mark Giordano. It’s no secret Ghost has seen better days as a player, and with the Flyers defense core built up for the foreseeable future, there isn’t much room left for the offensive defenseman on the Philadelphia blue line. Getting a fresh start on a new team with plenty of open spots for Ghost to settle into would be the best way to get the most out of the 27-year-old.
As for the Voracek for Gaudreau swap, it could simply be about a change of scenery for both players. The Flames offense had similar struggles to the Flyers during the 2019-20 season. They only had three 20+ goal scorers, to the Flyers’ four, and their top scorer, Matthew Tkachuk, had 61 points, same as the Flyers top scorer Travis Konecny.
It’s no secret Johnny Hockey is a wildly inconsistent player. From a 36-goal, 99-point campaign just one season ago, to a career-low 18 goals this season, it’s possible the Flames just want a different player in his role. Voracek is usually good for 20 goals and at least 60 points a year, though his effort level tends to come in waves during the course of the season. At 31 years of age, Voracek would immediately be the veteran guy in the Flames room, as only depth guy Derek Grant is the only older forward on the team.
Is there any fire to the smoke of these rumors? Who knows. Scottie Upshall and Jimmy Hayes aren’t exactly credible insiders, but it is a seemingly random enough trade that maybe it could happen. With the draft and free agency less than a week away, expect more wild rumors to make their rounds, but when something sounds too good to be true, chances are it probably is.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: courierpostonline.com