Top 10: “What If” Flyers Trade Rumors

For all of you younger readers or newer fans of the team, believe it or not there was a time when the Flyers were fun. When winning was the norm and the front office would try their best, no matter the cost, to put a team in the ice to win hockey games. That mentality is long gone these days, but there are plenty of stories from the past of trade rumors that just never came to fruition.

We dug through the depths of the internet to scrounge up some actual real life trade rumors the Flyers were believed to have made throughout the early 2010’s to look back and see just how different history could’ve been for the club.

Number 10: James Van Riemsdyk for Antti Niemi

After an offseason were the Flyers couldn’t trade James van Riemsdyk without surrendering high draft picks, it’s hard to imagine there was a time in a wayback year called 2012 where JVR had serious trade value. His name was on the block for the entirety of the 2011-12 season as the Flyers decided whether or not to trade the former 2007 second overall pick.

In Febraury of 2012, the Sharks apparently made a run at Van Riemsdyk, offering up star goaltender and man who beat the Flyers in the Cup Final two seasons earlier in Antti Niemi. At that time, the Flyers had a tandem of Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky who were struggling at best while Niemi posted a 2.42 goals against average and .915 save percentage during the 2011-12 campaign.

The deal never came to be and Niemi stayed put in San Jose, becoming one of the league’s top goalies during his five year run with the club. JVR continued to draw interest from across the league, but stayed put for the rest of the regular season, eventually being moved to Toronto for defenseman Luke Schenn.

Number 9: Braydon Coburn for Jordan Eberle

The Oilers and Flyers didn’t make a trade for ten years between 2008 and 2018, but they certainly did some dancing throughout 2013 when the Flyers needed some offensive help and the Oilers were searching for a stabilizing presence on the blueline.

The Flyers started the 2013-14 season on miserable terms which resulted in Peter Laviolette’s firing and were considering a major shakeup to try and right the ship. The Oilers circled Braydon Coburn during the 2013 offseason as a potential defensive fix, but nothing ultimately became of the rumors.

Rumors briefly arose that that Flyers may have contacted Edmonton about a potential deal for Jordan Eberle. Eberle was the 22nd overall pick in 2008 and was widely regarded as the next star for the Oilers, as one of their many first round picks of that era that actually worked out on the ice. He was a consistent 20+ goal, 50-60 point scorer during his days as an Oiler. Though Edmonton’s front office claimed he’d be an “Oiler forever” which ended up not being true, he’d get traded in 2017 after a disappointing season and playoff performance.

Fans and beat writers alike naturally connected the rumors back to the Coburn rumors from the previous offseason, While they were ultimately shot down pretty quickly by a couple national pundits, it would’ve been a very interesting situation to unfold. Eberle wasn’t exactly the most explosive offensive player, but he would’ve provided some stability at a time when the Flyers desperately needed it.

Coburn was traded the following season for Radko Gudas and a draft pick that would eventually become Travis Konecny.

Number 8: Brayden Schenn for Rick Nash

Rick Nash’s name was in the trade rumor mill for quite sometime with the Blue Jackets forever struggling to ice a competitive team. Then-GM Scott Howsen held out to get the best deal available, and Nash was more than willing to go to greener pastures.

Naturally, the Flyers were involved in the trade rumors at the time, but the exact player in return never seemed to be identified. It was always an open-ended return as “one of their younger players.” Some seem to think it was JVR, while others insist Brayden Schenn would’ve highlighted any deal between the two.

Nash was ultimately dealt to the New York Rangers in the summer of 2012 where he’d be a solid producer for another six seasons, including one of the best seasons of his career when he posted a 42-goal, 69-point campaign in 2014-15.

Add Rick Nash’s name to the list of names the Flyers failed in their pursuit of during the 2012 offseason; with players like Shea Weber, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

Number 7: Samuel Morin for Shea Weber

This one appears to be more speculation than bonafide fact, but the Flyers absolutely did check in on the availability of Shea Weber during the summer of 2014, just two years after they sent him the massive 14-year offer sheet that Nashville ultimately matched. With a roster full of up-and-coming defensemen like Roman Josi, Seth Jones, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm, Weber was thought to be expandable. The theory was the Nashville loves to develop their own defeseman, and at the time Samuel Morin would’ve been a high-risk, high-reward prospect to take on while the Flyers got a top defenseman for the here and now, plus they would’ve gotten Nashville out from that contract if they were having second thoughts about matching.

Nashville didn’t part with Weber right away, he was kept around to mentor the youngsters, but when they all made the roster, Weber was traded in 2016 for PK Subban.

Number 6: Sean Couturier for Thomas Vanek

Early career Thomas Vanek was a bonafide star. He was regularly eclipsing 40 goals and remembered for his massive seven-year, $50 million offer sheet signed with the Oilers and later matched by the Sabres. In the last year of that contract during the 2012-13 season, rumors on an impending trade rose to the NHL trade boards and he drew interest from across the league.

As with any star player on the trade block during the Holmgren era, the Flyers sniffed around. The asking price from Buffalo was fairly typical; a young NHL talent, a top prospect and a first round pick. The Flyers were the first team to emerge in the Vanek rumors, with Couturier being the crown jewel of the return for Buffalo, but there doesn’t appear to but lasting interest or longstanding rumors connecting the two sides.

Vanek’s production declined during his last couple seasons in Buffalo, and was never able to reach his previous level later in his career either. He was dealt to the Islanders in October of 2013 for Matt Moulson, a 2014 first round pick and a 2015 second round pick.

Number 5: Martin Biron for Jay Bouwmeester

This one also appeared to be some level of speculation, theoretically happening in a flurry of moves rather than a one-for-one trade. The Panthers were looking to deal defenseman Jay Bouwmeester in 2009 and the Flyers were definitely interested, but didn’t have the cap space to do so. The theory being they would trade Biron to a third party team to clear his $3.5 million cap hit, then deal with Florida for Bouwmeester and the last year of his $4.8 million contract. Biron was all over the trade rumors at the 2009 trade deadline but ended up finishing out the season for the Flyers and leaving during the summer. Bouwmeester finished out the 2008-09 season in Florida as well, eventually being traded to the Flames for Jordan Leopold and a 2009 third round pick during the offseason.

Number 4: James Van Riemsdyk for Keith Yandle

Everyone remembers the JVR for Luke Schenn trade, but did you know they original deal was lined up for Van Riemsdyk to get shipped to Phoenix for then-top defenseman Keith Yandle?

Yandle was connected to the Flyers for years in the early 2010’s, and the rumors ranged wildly over the years, featuring returns like 2012 first round pick Scott Laughton, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier or Matt Read, though Paul Holmgren could never strike a deal with the Coyotes.

The most consistent confirmed rumor was JVR for Yandle, and apparently there was a deal on the table from both sides to make the move happen, but the Flyers had to choose between one of the better offensive defenseman in the game at the time in Keith Yandle, or a competing offer from the Toronto Maple Leafs for the size and physicality of 2008 fifth overall pick Luke Schenn.

Guess which they chose?

Number 3: Ivan Provorov for Patrik Laine

When Laine was on the outs with Winnipeg during the 2020 offseason, the Flyers checked in and did their due diligence on the Finnish sniper, but a deal was never reached. It was later rumored the Jets were demanding defenseman Ivan Provorov as the main piece in the deal.

The Jets’ blueline was depleted, losing guys like Jacob Trouba, Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers and Toby Enstrom in the previous few seasons. Provorov would’ve gone a long way to stabilizing the defense, meanwhile Patrik Laine, who scored 138 goals in his first 300 NHL games, was exactly the goal scorer the anemic Flyers offense could’ve used.

The Flyers ultimately valued Provorov more than adding Laine and a deal was never reached. Laine was later traded to Metro Division rival the Columbus Blue Jackets early in the 2020-21 campaign.

Number 2: Wayne Simmonds for Aaron Ekblad

The Panthers held the first overall pick in 2014, a draft which took place in Philadelphia, and the Flyers desperately needed a defensive prospect worth salivating over. Rumor has it Florida was seeking Wayne Simmonds in return, who was 26 years old at the time and just posted a 29-goal, 60-point season.

The rumors were rather extensive at the time, with whispers of the deal being an absolute blockbuster potentially featuring the Schenn brothers, Matt Read and Vinny Lecavalier, as well as talks of Erik Gudbranson potentially going the other way.

Then-GM of the Panthers Dale Tallon said the Flyers offer was enticing, but he ultimately refused to trade the pick in favor of drafting Ekblad, who has gone on to be their top defenseman. A classic “what if” moment if the trigger had been pulled and Ekblad formed a duo with Ivan Provorov a year later.

Number 1: Claude Giroux for P.K. Subban

This is a rumor that has seemingly been debunked on some level over the years, but it’s still fascinating to think about in hindsight.

Subban and the Canadiens went through a rough arbitration in 2014, and the trade rumors popped up shortly thereafter. Then-Candiens GM Marc Bergevin shut down any and all rumors at the time, insisting there wasn’t a trade option available that made sense, though there were rumors that surfaced that the Flyers made a push for the 25-year-old defenseman.

What was it? Well, I think it included a first-round pick, 2013 first-rounder Samuel Morin and something else. That something else is obviously a huge part of the puzzle, but it wasn’t, say, Claude Giroux.” – Elliotte Friedman

So the Giroux-for-Subban fan theory seems to be nothing more than just that, but there were real connections that tied Montreal and Philly together in regards to Subban.

Giroux will go down as one of the best Flyers of all time, meanwhile, when Subban was at his peak in the early and mid 2010’s, he was one of the league’s top defensemen. He’s a three-time All-star and won the Norris Trophy in 2013. Just imagine how different history would’ve been if Giroux got shipped out of Philly in the early days of the Hextall era.

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By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

photo credit: Getty Images

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