Well, it’s that time of year again. The annual crazy trade scenarios returns! It’s a way for the imagination to run wild and spice up the Flyers trade deadline with wild acquisitions that could still be within the realm of possibility. Over the past few weeks we’ve looked at realistic trades and value trades but now it’s time to aim for the stars. All these trades push fantasy to the extreme, but they could all actually work out salary cap and roster wise, with the trade value being as close as possible based on the needs and situations of both teams.
Number 5: Patrik Laine, Max Domi and David Savard for Travis Konency, Travis Sanheim, Erik Gustafsson, Yegor Zamula, Tanner Laczynski, and a Second Round Pick
Here’s a chance to right a few wrongs from this past offseason. Rumors flew all summer long that the Flyers and Winnipeg Jets had at least preliminary talks about Patrik Laine, but nothing materialized. Domi was also a name theorized to be on the Flyers’ radar, but his rights were dealt to Columbus and he signed a two-year deal instead.
Laine and Blue Jackets’ head coach John Tortorella have already clashed on multiple occasions and that may ultimately lead to a “him or me” situation at season’s end. Considering the Jackets just gave up their star young center Pierre-Luc Dubois, albeit under tense circumstances, they probably won’t want to flip Laine for cheap. Though it is worth noting that Laine is a restricted free agent at the end of the year and that could lead to a messy dispute if Laine is unhappy and the front office doesn’t want to move him.
Max Domi is still trying to find his footing with his new team after a lackluster season in Montreal where he failed to live up to his 28-goal, 72-point showing from 2018-19. David Savard is in the midst of an underwhelming season and is in desperate need of a change of scenery and has had him name in the trade rumor mill all season.
The rumor this summer was a trade with the Jets would have to focus around Travis Konecny, so let’s assume that’d be the starting price here as well. There’s a good chance they’d want another solid roster player as well, and one that could replace David Savard on the back end, enter Travis Sanheim. Gustafsson would have to be thrown in for salary cap reasons, and a package of Zamula, Laczynski and a second round pick should hopefully be enough to make up the difference in roster player value.
Patrik Laine just needs to find a team where he will be given control. Going from Winnipeg where he didn’t feel important, to Columbus where he’s being benched for half the game due to minor mistakes didn’t help him find a more level ground. If the Flyers dealt Konency in the deal, it’d open up a guaranteed right wing spot in the top six and alongside a combination of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Joel Farabee, he would have every chance to re-find his 40-goal form from a few seasons back. Domi would be a worthwhile addition to the Flyers’ bottom six, which is desperately lacking the gritty edge he brings. Savard would probably end up being a rental for the playoff push, unless he really impresses, but considering the Flyers need all the help they can get on the blueline, he wouldn’t be a throw-in piece either.
Number 4: Sam Reinhart, Eric Staal and Rasmus Ristolainen for Jake Voracek, Phil Myers, Morgan Frost, and a First Round Pick
The Sabres are desperate to right their long-sinking ship and they could look to deal more than just their captain. We’ve suggested trading for Jack Eichel in the past, but what if the Flyers look to capitalize on other Sabres forwards? If the Flyers had their picking, there’s a few names that stand out, the forwards being Sam Reinhart and Eric Staal. Reinhart, a former second overall pick in 2014, 423 NHL games under his belt with 275 points. He’s 25 years old on an expiring contract that pays him $5.2 million this season then he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. Staal, a 17-year NHL veteran has almost 1,300 games under his belt and 1,030 points to show for it. He is also on an expiring contract that comes in at $3.25 million. His offensive production has slowed down, with just eight points in 23 games this season, but he still brings quite a bit to the table at 36 years old. Together they’d come in at $8.55 million, which wouldn’t be a bad price tag, especially with most of their cap paid out by the time April comes around. Ristolainen is still just 26 years old and has been the poster boy for having your play stunted by playing in Buffalo. Clocking in at 6 foot 4 and 220lbs, he’d bring some much needed size and snarl on the blue line.
The Sabres are in an interesting place as far as trades are concerned. There is one of two extremes they could go- another rebuild, or look for solid pieces to rebuild on the fly with. We’ll take the approach of continuing to build with a young core.
The trade would have to start with Jake Voracek. While he is now 31 years old, he still regularly hits the 20-goal, 60-point mark, though his inclusion in the deal would mainly be financial, as his $8.25 million cap hit would go a long way to evening out the incoming Sabres’ combined $13.8. Phil Myers has been a bit disappointing and the wait for him to develop into legitimate NHL defensemen has been a big issue for the Flyers, though his potential is still high and could very well be a top guy one day, but that timeline isn’t fitting with the current setup in Philly. Ditto for Frost, who will miss the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury. After Nolan Patrick returned Frost became the odd man out at forward and may be best served as a trade chip at this point of his career.
Reinhart and Staal would help even out some of the underwhelming forward lines. Reinhart is starting to enter the peak of his NHL career and is a solid two-way player that sees copious time and success on the powerplay, something the Flyers could really use. Staal, the six-time all-star, brings plenty of leadership to the lineup as a member of the triple gold club. The “veteran presence” approach is something the Flyers tried to pursue last season with Nate Thompson, but Staal would be a legitimate addition that can still play. Ristolainen may get mixed results from the fans depending on who you ask, but he fills a big hole for the Flyers. He may not be the top guy they need, but a large, physical player who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty is high in the wishlist in Philadephia right now.
Would that be a big enough return on the Flyers end? Possibly. There may need to be another draft pick or two added, but it should be enough to have the Sabres interested. It’d be a targeted approach by the Flyers. All three players fill a role the Flyers need, even if they’re not the sexiest names available at the deadline.
Number 3: Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett for Travis Konecny, James Van Riemsdyk, Scott Laughton and Nolan Patrick
A blockbuster trade with the Flames is simple, it’s a shakeup for two organizations that desperately need one.
There have been rumors of Sean Monahan being available and if that’s the case the Flyers should definitely be interested. Monahan, still just 26 years old, has four 20+ goal seasons and three 30+ goal seasons under his belt. He’s a player that can do a little bit of everything and with that kind of offensive production should be a hot commodity if his name does indeed officially hit the rumor mill.
Johnny Gaudreau may not be the best playoff performer, but he’s been linked to the Flyers since he entered the league in 2014 due to his connections with South Jersey. Brotherly Pod welcomed Sportsnet writer Eric Francis on the show in late January and he went as far as to say Gaudreau is “destined for Philly.” As for Bennett, the trade rumors have been following him all season as he has to fight for every minute of ice time he has seen all season as he and previous head coach Geoff Ward had not seen eye to eye.
This could be the Flyers chance to cash in on JVR’s hot season without having to wait for the expansion draft and lose him for nothing. Laughton is at an interesting point in his career as well. His current deal which paid him $2.3 million a season is expiring this summer and chances are he’ll want a similar or even higher dollar amount than he’s making now which could be hard to fit in under the cap. Though when Laughton is at the top of his game he can be a top six forward that chips in contributions wherever he can and may be able to flourish even further in a better situation.
Imagine a 1-2-3 punch of Couturier, Monahan, and Hayes down the middle for the Flyers. Gaudreau replacing Konencny on the wings will more than likely be an upgrade as well. Gaudreau has already proven he can hit the 30-goal plateau on multiple occasions and has flirted with 100 points twice. Laughton and Bennett will even each other out in the long run, and Nolan Patrick’s addition will give the Flames a center with plenty of potential that just doesn’t seem to fit in Philly. Hopefully the change of scenery will benefit all involved, and both franchises will take respective steps forward.
Number 2: Duncan Keith and Dylan Strome for Travis Sanheim, Wyatte Wylie, Tanner Laczynski and Tyson Foerster
Over a decade after the Blackhawks beat the Flyers for a Stanley Cup in 2010, could the Flyers pick the bones of Chicago as they try to gear up for their own Stanley Cup run?
The Blackhawks are still trying their damndest to keep their heads above water and remain in the playoff picture, but sooner or later they are going to be forced to waive the white flag and enter a rebuild, and that is the leverage the Flyers would have here. The Flyers may be without a superstar in their pipeline, they certainly have enough mid-to-high tier prospects to entice a soon-to-be rebuilding Blackhawks to split with a couple of their vets.
Sanheim would give them a young body on the blue line in the here and now and Waytte Wylie will give him a defensive prospect with plenty of potential in the future. A forward prospect punch of Laczynski, who may be NHL ready sooner rather than later, and Foerster, who has proven he has some potential during his stint in the AHL while his junior league is paused, would stock the Blackhawks’ pipeline for the near future nicely.
Duncan Keith, who will turn 38 this summer, still has two years left on his current deal which pays him $5.5 million a season, can still play at a high level and still regularly sees 25 minutes of ice time per night. He would be a great tutor and partner for Ivan Provorov, who flourished under Niskanen’s learning tree last season. Strome would add a solid two-way center to the bottom six. While dreams of his offensive grandeur may be fading, he does have 113 points in 183 games and he’d still be a worthwhile addition and ease some pressure off of Nolan Patrick or Scott Laughton at the third line center role.
Number 1: Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm for Shayne Gostisbehere, Yegor Zamula, and two First Round Picks
Maybe the most realistic trade based off the current rumor mill, The Predators are starting to go belly-up and it could soon be time for a breakdown and rebuild on the fly. The Flyers have already been linked to 30-year-old defenseman Mattias Ekholm, but what if they wanted to further join the potential fire sale in Nashville? Rumor has it that 26-year-old Filip Forsberg may also be available at the trade deadline, so what would it take for the Flyers to get both players? The biggest hurdle here is the fact both have a year left on their deals, meaning neither are rental players, and with the expansion draft coming up, they’d have to protect both players. Cap wise, Forsberg clocks in at $6 million per season and Ekholm at $3.75 million.
Filip Forsberg, now 27, may be one of the more underrated players in the league from an offensive perspective. he’s got six 20+ goal seasons under his belt, two of which eclipsed the 30-goal mark, and already has 10 goals and 27 points in 28 games this season. Ekholm’s name has been attached to the Flyers for weeks now and would be a nice addition to the struggling blue line, though as a left defenseman he wouldn’t be the best addition as Provorov already has the top pair left side role locked down. Fit in the lineup aside, he’s still the crown jewel defenseman at the trade deadline and would be an immediate boost the Flyers need.
The early rumors have Shayne Gostisbehere being they key piece going back to Nashville, which at face value seems a bit weak, but Ghost has managed to really turn his game around this season. Ever since returning from his early season covid diagnosis, he has played a solid defensive game more often than not and has already tied his goal output from last season in just 19 games this year. He wouldn’t exactly be a building block for Nashville as he’s about to turn 28 at the end of April, but if he can stay at a higher level he could be an under-the-radar addition for the Preds at a $4.5 cap hit for two more seasons.
For the rebuilding Predators, obviously their biggest want will come in the form of future assets. Yegor Zamula is the second on the Flyers’ defensive prospect depth chart and seems to have a bright future at the professional level. He has just a single assist for the Phantoms so far this season, but his hockey IQ is proving to be high and the points will come with time. The two first round picks give Nashville the peace of mind that they have a pair of top prospects in their future as well.
It does seem like a lopsided deal that favors the Flyers, but taking big risks is something Preds GM David Poile is no stranger to. If that deal comes across Fletcher’s desk he shouldn’t even slightly hesitate to say yes. Is it a reach? Yeah, but it also seemingly has a foot in reality and could be a huge deal for the Flyers and their continuing quest for success.
Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi and Bobby Ryan for Wade Allison, David Kase, Linus Hogberg and two First Round Picks
This could be an ideal situation for the Flyers if they’re looking to add roster players without losing anything substantial that effects today’s roster. Detroit, under the watchful eye of Steve Yzerman, is still in the midst of a rebuild and according to Elliotte Friedman is “open for business” at the trade deadline.
Mantha and Bertuzzi are two guys that can do it all. Regular 20 goal scores that are physical and hard to play against would be much needed additions to the Flyers’ middle six. Bobby Ryan, a guy who is on a cheap deal, may not be able to contribute at a high level at this point in his career, but he can still chip in offense from time to time and his homecoming to the Flyers would be a great story.
For the Flyers, trading prospects and picks could be a way to secure incoming players. Wade Allison, 23, has dealt with injuries since his draft year in 2016, but when he’s healthy he seems like a guy who has a bright future in front of him. David Kase, 24, is in his third season in North America and seems poised to make the jump to the NHL soon. Given the depth, it may be hard for him to find a spot on the current roster, especially outside the fourth line. Hogberg, 22, debuted in the AHL this season after a successful early career in Sweden. It’s a trio of prospects that could struggle to fit in on the Flyers roster and may be more valuable to the franchise as trade chips. What they lack in certainty would be made up for with the inclusion of two first round picks that the Red Wings would love to have.
For the Flyers, that’d be about $10 million in cap space incoming and the deal would hinge on a separate move to clear cap. Partner this deal with the Flames theory from earlier and that’d be a hell of a shakeup and additions for the Flyers.
So Chuck, what are you waiting for? Get to work, please, thank you, and you’re welcome.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com / chicago.suntimes.com / thescore.com / buffalonews.com