It’s been a long time since the Flyers organization has seen a big trade. Hell, we’re a few months away from the 10-year anniversary of the Richards and Carter blockbuster deals. But with the organization at a potential crossroads due to on-ice talent and the flat salary cap, the Flyers may have to get creative with trades and take a big gamble to get the team to the ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup.
More often than not in this league, you have to give quality to get quality. Sure, there are the occasional lopsided deals, but the recent Laine-for-Dubois trade proves that in a league with financial situations that paying up may be the only way to acquire that missing pice your team needs. So with the trade deadline on the horizon and a huge summer coming up, who may the Flyers look to deal to get the star of their dreams?
It’s no secret the Flyers defense corps has been a bit of a mess during the 2021 season and Sanheim is not immune to the issues. Now 212 games into his career, it’s time for Travis Sanheim’s game to get to that next level. He has shown flashes of brilliance from time to time, but more often than not we’re not getting the best he has to offer. He’s weak on the puck, seems to panic when he being rushed especially in the offensive zone, and, outside of waiting for his “potential” to materialize, he’s a pretty average defenseman right now. The Flyers still have prospects Yegor Zamula and Cam York waiting in the wing, both could be here as early as next season, and if they hit the ground running they could easily pass Sanheim on the depth chart.
More importantly, Sanheim is a restricted free agent this summer and due a contract, more than likely asking for a nice little raise from his current $3.25 million price tag, and this is where Fletcher’s decision making will be put to the test. Will he re-sign the soon to be 25-year-old to a longer term deal anywhere from $4-$5 million a season and potentially hinder their ability to add in the near future or will they deal the RFA defenseman and use the savings to find a better replacement via trade or free agency?
Doubt anybody expected Travis Konecny to have this bad of a season. He got off to a hot start, putting up three goals and five points in the Flyers’ first two games, but has scored just two goals and one assist in the following 10 games, including a five-game pointless streak that carried him into the covid pause. TK does have three consecutive 24-goal seasons under his belt, and a career best 61 points last season. A scoreless streak of this magnitude is something he hasn’t experienced since early in the 2018-19 season when he went six games without a point around Christmas.
Rumor has it he was the potential return the Winnipeg Jets were seeking in a potential Patrik Laine deal, which obviously never ended up happening. Though it’d be a good starting comparable as to what to expect if a deal were to happen with Konecny as the crown jewel going the other way. It does seem unlikely Teeks is going anywhere any time soon, but it’s important to remember that there is always someone better. If Fletcher were to line up a trade for a legitimate top player, Konecny may have to be the piece going back. It’s not likely, but it could happen.
The Flyers’ 2012 first round draft pick might be at a crossroads in his career. A veteran of 334 games as a Flyer, the 26-year-old is in the last year of his current contract. Even though Laughton has been as high in the lineup as the second line left wing in his career, he is more often than not a fourth line center with a relatively low ceiling. Already making $2.3 million per season on his current deal, the Flyers really can’t afford to issue Laughton a similar contract for next season. With guys like Connor Bunnaman and David Kase knocking on the door and making far less money, the Flyers may have no choice to part with Laughton after eight seasons. He is very good at what he does and may hold some value to another team looking for depth. If they deal him at the trade deadline, replace him with Connor Bunnaman, who is still on his $736,000 entry-level deal, they could use the savings to bring in an upgrade elsewhere in the lineup at the deadline.
Raffl is in the same boat as Laughton as he’s in the last year of his contract that pays him $1.6 million a season. Even though Raffl has played a perfect Swiss army knife role for the Flyers since the 2013-14 season, the now-32-year-old may be on limited time in Philadelphia. With a plethora of prospects fighting for a roster spot, it could make Raffl expandable. Like Laughton, there would be plenty of teams looking for a solid depth upgrade at the trade deadline and, given his cheap contract, the Flyers may be able to deal him easier than Laughton as well.
Does Chuck Fletcher pull the trigger on an upgrade at the trade deadline in April? Time will tell, but considering the Flyers are near the top of the East Division, one would imagine he will looks for additions wherever possible. The more likely scenario is a big summer coming the Flyers’ way. The expansion draft is going to happen, and the Flyers have set themselves up nicely to not lose anybody substantial, but rather set themselves up to shed some salary, hopefully in the form of James Van Riemsdyk. If JVR does indeed go to Seattle and Raffl and Laughton are not re-signed, Chuck Fletcher will have much more breathing room to spin together a big deal to improve the team, and hopefully he takes that approach and builds into the Flyers into true contenders by adding the missing link or two the team is currently lacking.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: sports.yahoo.com