As the Philadelphia Flyers once again smolder in the pit of mediocre irrelevancy, there will need to be some difficult questions that need to be asked as the NHL trade deadline approaches in late March. The Flyers are at a fork in the road, continue on as a middle-of-the-pack at best club, or tear it down and start all over again and hope for a better outcome. If they do indeed decide to enter a rebuild, they have plenty of options when it comes to dealing away players. Who are the most likely players to be moved for a big return at the trade deadline?
Number 5: Justin Braun
Any team looking for a solid, cheap depth defenseman will be lining up for Justin Braun. He’s been the unsung hero on the Flyers blueline for most of the past two seasons and will be a great trade chip at the deadline. The Flyers originally traded a second and third round pick for Braun back in 2019, and while they may not be able to get quite that return for Braun this time, he should be able to at least draw an early round pick in a trade.
Number 4: Rasmus Ristolainen
The fate of Ristolainen will be one of the keys to determining where the Flyers plans are. If they trade him, it will signal a rebuild, if they keep him, there’s a good chance the Flyers aren’t quite sold on blowing it up just yet because trading your capable second pair RHD that you paid a king’s ransom for doesn’t make much sense if you’re planning on staying competitive. For argument’s sake, if the Flyers do shop Ristolainen, he’ll be a hot commodity as the top right-handed defenseman on the market. Getting a first round pick in returns shouldn’t be out of the question, recouping a big piece the Flyers traded away in the first place.
Number 3: Martin Jones
Jones has been the biggest surprise of the Flyers season so far, exceeding expectations when he signed in Philly. He is on an expiring deal and any team that wants to shore up their goaltending depth will sniff around Jones, and any team desperate enough may be willing to drop a pretty penny to acquire him, provided his numbers stay at the above-average level they were early in the season.
Number 2: Travis Sanheim
Sanheim was signed short term in the first place in the event that the organization needed to pull the rip cord on him. While he’s still a fine player, there’s ultimately no reason for the Flyers to keep him if they go down the rebuild route. One year left at $4.6 million may be a tough pill to swallow for some teams at the deadline, but anybody interested in a second pair LHD will at least do their due diligence when it comes to possibly acquiring Sanheim.
Number 1: Claude Giroux
With yet another Flyers season shaping up to be a waste of time, captain and 15-year NHL veteran Claude Giroux, who turns 34 in January and is on an expiring contract, may finally leave the only team he has every played for. If the Flyers are not in a playoff spot come the trade deadline there are going to be some difficult decisions for both the franchise and Giroux himself to make. There will be teams across the league hungry to pick him up, but with a no-movement clause, it’ll be up to Giroux to decide where he wants to go. The day Giroux leaves will be a hard day for us all, but it’s one that may not be too far off in the future.
Konecny’s trade value has fallen from grace over the last few seasons. From three consecutive 24-goal seasons to just 16 goals in the last 74 games in the past two seasons, it’s safe to assume most teams would be weary of acquiring him and his $5.5 million cap hit for three more seasons. It’s not impossible he gets dealt, but it feels more like an offseason move than a trade deadline deal.
Laughton is a serviceable bottom six forward, and a $3 million cap hit is reasonable for his skillset, but with four years left on his deal, he’s not exactly a rental player. Much likely Konecny, it’s not impossible he gets dealt, but it’s probably a conversation best left for the summer.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcsports.com