The Philadelphia Flyers and their defense corps, a mix that this franchise just can’t quite get right. There were some early positives this season, a trend which has sunk faster than the Titanic as Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov and Tony DeAngelo all struggle on a night-to-night basis. With the NHL trade deadline finally here, it’s a chance for the Flyers to get rid of a few bodies and give us a glimpse into the future, but will the Flyers take that opportunity?
It’s all but a guarantee 36-year-old Justin Braun gets dealt, though his return will probably be fairly insignificant. For everyone else, the jury is still out. Nick Seeler and Tony DeAngelo have apparently drawn trade interest, but it’s not widely considered a lock the Flyers move either player at the deadline. Both Seeler and DeAngelo are under contract next season with $775,000 and $5 million cap hit respectively.
DeAngelo has not quite lived up to the hopes the Flyers had for him when he was acquired from the Hurricanes and signed last summer. Though he does have 10 goals and 34 points with 15 of those points coming on the powerplay. He was apart of a very solid team defense system in Carolina and has struggled to replicate those results on a team that is anything but stalwart defensively.
Nick Seeler, a seventh defenseman on most teams, has played pretty will on the third pair for the Flyers this season. He’s averaging 14:35 of ice time this season, by far a career high, and has one of the three left-handed spots locked down, forcing Egor Zamula and Cam York to switch to the right side instead.
That’s a solid depth lefty and a powerplay-producing righty, both of which should garner attention at the deadline.
For the Flyers, they’ve got a few defensemen on the fringe of making a potential jump to the NHL, mainly being 22-year-old left-handed defenseman Egor Zamula and 23-year-old right-handed defenseman Ronnie Attard. Clearing at least two spots should open the door for both players to get recalled and see NHL ice time for the remainder of the season.
If either are considered potential options for the future, there’s nothing wrong with getting them both a consistent trial run. Zamula played 11 games throughout October and November before being reassigned to the Phantoms where he’s been since. Attard played 15 games last season after he signed his entry-level contract when his colligate career came to an end.
Both players received positive reviews from head coach John Tortorella despite the fact he was hesitant to give either ice time to start the season. With a few more months to marinate, and Attard especially taking his game to another level with the Phantoms, could a late season recall be in the cards?
The could roll with a top six of…
Provorov – York
Sanheim – Ristolainen
Zamula – Attard
… or whatever combination of those six players would help you sleep at night.
There’s the battle of left-handed defensemen consisting of Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim and Cam York that will somehow have to be addressed during the offseason. York has proven to be a decent player on the right side, a short-term fill in to cover from losing both Braun and DeAngelo.
Attard will more than likely end up playing a very similar role to that of Tony DeAngelo, though probably has a higher defensive ceiling and he’s on his entry level deal, a $4 million savings for the Flyers. In time, Zamula should be a solid pair of hands on the third pair with a potentially higher potential.
Outside of Justin Braun, who knows if the front office pulls the trigger on any other defensive trades. But if they do, there are quite a few in-house options to fill their spots and the future can begin to take shape. Given the disaster the blue line has been once again this season, parting ways with a few veterans and breathing in a few top prospects seems like the smart thing to do, which, ya know, is where this front office struggles most.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: Getty Images