Top 5: Center Trade Targets

The Philadelphia Flyers spent the summer upgrading multiple holes throughout the lineup, but a positional need that once again took a back seat on the priority list was the center depth. The shallow position was further exposed when Kevin Hayes was lost to injury and Morgan Frost failed to make the NHL roster out of camp. Even when Kevin Hayes returns, he’ll be working back from two abdominal surgeries, and even though he may get cleared, probably won’t be near 100%. That’ll put pressure on Chuck Fletcher and the front office to find an outside source to address the center position, especially if this team sets itself up for a playoff run. So who could the Flyers possibly target if and when they enter the trade market?

Number 5- Rickard Rakell

Rakell’s name was was circulated during the offseason as a potential trade target as the Ducks rebuild continues, but the trigger was not pulled. His point totals throughout his career paint the picture of the state of the Anaheim Ducks. From a 34-goal, 69-point campaign in 2017-18, the last time the Ducks made the playoffs, to just 9 goals and 28 points in 2021 when the Ducks finished dead last in the West. The offensively anemic Ducks may have devalued Rakell a bit, but that’s good news for an inquiring team. He would also make a decent rental, as he is on an expiring contract at a measly $3.7 million cap hit. He has shifted to wing over the last few seasons, but he can line up anywhere at forward and was a center earlier in his career.

Number 4- Dylan Strome

Former third overall pick Dylan Strome is firmly entrenched in Jeremy Colliton’s doghouse in Chicago and mum has been the word as to why. Strome, who is a natural center but has played primarily on the right wing with the Blackhawks, is 24 years old on an expiring contract that pays him $3 million a season. He will be a restricted free agent this summer. Strome has never been able find the same level of success he did in juniors and and even the AHL, so expecting him to come in and be a consistent top-six guy may be too much, but he does have 102 points in 204 NHL games and could be a solid plug in the bottom six if reliable depth if what they want.

Number 3- Sean Monahan

The Calgary Flames did something baffling this summer- nothing. The Flames have become a very stale team that quite frankly needed a shakeup similar to that of which the Flyers received during the summer. Draging out what seems to be their inevitable doom for another season means that if the team is not in a playoff spot come the trade deadline, they could look to finally start tearing it down. If the Flyers would want in on the fire sale, pun very much intended, Sean Monahan would be their guy. The recently-turned-27-year-old is no stranger to success in the NHL. He’s got three 30+ goal seasons, another four 20+ goal seasons, and has received votes for the Selke trophy in the past. His offensive output has been on the decline for the past few seasons, something that can, for now, be chalked up to the pandemic and the general lackluster state of the Calgary Flames. He has one more season left on his current deal at a $6.3 million cap hit.

Number 2- Dylan Larkin

A few weeks back, Red Wings beat writer Max Bultman stopped by Brotherly Pod and talked about the expectations in Detroit. Their rebuild is starting to finally get off the ground, but by the sounds of it, everyone still has a price. Dylan Larkin is already playing in the seventh season of his NHL career and, depsite already being a very good player, there’s also a good chance nobody has seem the best he has to offer either. It’d probably take a king’s ransom to pry Larkin out of Hockeytown, but he could very well be the difference between a bubble team and a bonafide playoff Cup contender. He’s got one year left on his current contract at a manageable $6.1 million cap hit.

Number 1- Tomas Hertl

Hertl’s name has been making the rounds as the hot name to keep an eye on towards the trade deadline. It sounds as though he isn’t totally committed to leaving San Jose just yet, essentially giving them the ultimatum of “if you play well I’ll stay” but despite the hot start, the Sharks roster isn’t exactly built for success. He could be a valuable trade chip for the Sharks in their continued rebuild. Hertl typically hovers around the 20-goal, 50-point mark and is on an expiring deal that paid him $5.6 million a season, but could see a decent raise this summer.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

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