The Philadelphia Flyers need a major shakeup this offseason to try and find the right mix of players to succeed. The best way to go about fixing the current team and building for the future at the same time would be adding similarly aged players to the players of their current core to expand the lifespan of the Cup window they are desperate to pursue. If Chuck Fletcher keeps an eye on the trade market, who are some young players the Flyers may have their eye on?
Number 5: Patrik Laine
You bet I will not let this dream die easily. Laine finally got his wish and wash shipped out of Winnipeg during the 2021 season only to end up with John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets. The two forces have butted heads ever since and Laine’s numbers have reflected his struggles not only with the coach, but the lackluster Blue Jackets in general. Tortorella’s contract is up and given Columbus’ place in the standings he probably won’t be coming back, but they also owe Laine a new contract, who is a restricted free agent. The big question now is whether Laine will return to Columbus even if Torts is gone.
Given his numbers haven’t re-bounded as everyone had hoped, he could see his value drop a bit from a monetary perspective, but his repertoire as a top goalscorer who could turn it around at any minute should keep his value pretty high. Even though it feels like Laine has been around for awhile now, he just turned 23 in April and still has plenty of hockey in the tank. His point production may be a bit of a question mark given his output has ranged wildly over the past few seasons, but the risk could absolutely be worth the reward if he does indeed want out of Columbus. It’ll probably be one of the more interesting storylines in the offseason and one worth keeping an eye on.
Number 4: Brock Boeser
Boeser is a name we floated last offseason when his name popped up in the rumor mill, though Jim Benning shut those rumor down pretty quick. Even though those rumors dissipated, there is about to be some serious financial issues in Vancouver. Young stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes both need contract extensions and the Canucks don’t exactly have a lot of cap space to go around. Some tough choices will have to be made and Brock Boeser and his $5.8 million cap hit, the most expensive forward on the team, may be on the move.
While the shortened seasons the past two years have hampered his ability to get back to the fringe-30-goal scorer he was during his first and second NHL seasons, the 24-year-old Boeser is still producing offense at a respectable rate. He’s scored 17 goals and 37 points in 45 games the season, which would be good enough for first and third on the Flyers’ this season respectively.
The Canucks have cap issues, but aren’t necessarily strapped, so they could look to add solid players who are just making a bit less than the players they are moving. Maybe the could look towards the cheaper members of the Flyers defense such as Phil Myers, who is only making $2.55 million a season for two more seasons, as the main piece going back. Obviously it’d take more than that, but it’d be along the lines of how a deal would look.
Number 3: William Nylander
Despite being a key piece for the Toronto Maple Leafs, that hasn’t stopped Nylander’s name from popping up on the trade rumor mill from time to time over the last few seasons, though this time, it may be for real. It’s no secret the Leafs are in a in a salary cap crunch and are going to have to lose a few players one way or another in order to stay cap compliant. Nylander, who just turned 25 on May 1, is making $6.9 million a season for three more seasons and it could come down to keeping Willy or finding a goaltender to keep the team afloat.
Nylander has never been a point-per-game player, but he has hit the 20-goal plateau twice and eclipsed the 30-goal mark last season. He has both been hurt and helped playing on the stacked Leafs offense as some of his stats may be padded, but he has also never really had the chance to be the top guy on a team. Deployed mainly as a right winger, he could easily take the 1RW slot, especially if the Flyers dump Voracek in Seattle. And the best part of a Nylander trade is the deal would have to revolve around picks or players on their entry-level deals as Toronto doesn’t have any cap space. Adding a player the caliber of William Nylander to the roster without giving up a roster player of significance could help build up the current team.
Number 2: Sam Reinhart
The Buffalo Sabres are still stuck in their endless rebuild and it sounds like anybody could be on the block, including 25-year-old Sam Reinhart. The Sabres owe Reinhart a contract this summer, as his one-year, $5.2 million deal has come to an end. It was the second bridge deal Reinhart has signed and will more than likely be looking for the first long-term deal of his career.
Reinhart has had a hell of a season for the lowly Buffalo Sabres with 25 goals and 40 points in 51 games, easily leading the team in both categories. He can play center or wing, and finds success on the powerplay. It’s the kind of versatility that is lacking from the Flyers current roster and adding a powerplay specialist is pretty high on the priority list as well. The Sabres are a team desperate for a shakeup, and the Flyers have their fair share of stagnant players that could peak the Sabres’ interest, so there could definitely be a deal that would work best for both teams.
Number 1: Matthew Tkachuk
The Flames are on the boarderline of a potential retool and one of the more surprising names that has been rumored to be on the block is 23-year-old Matthew Tkachuk. The Flyers have been linked to different names in Calgary in the past, but Tkachuk is a new player to keep an eye on.
Tkachuk would be a prototypical Flyer. A scorer, a physical presence, an agitator, a player that would help bring an identity to the team, something that is just as important as racking up goals. If Tkachuk does in fact hit the trade market, teams will be lining up to make an offer for him. We’ve theorized a blockbuster trade with Calgary in the past, mainly as a huge shakeup for both franchises desperately needing one. Is it a shakeup the Flyers would go for? Who knows, but a player like Matthew Tkachuk isn’t someone that pops up for sale everyday and they should absolutely do their due diligence and check on with the Flames about his availability.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhltraderumors.me / nhl.com / diebytheblade.com