When the Flyers started the season, it was as usual a start as they have every year. The Flyers normally don’t start hot to a season and hover around the .500 mark for a while before getting it going in seasons they make the playoffs.
Well, now after their 9th straight loss, this Flyers season looks like its turning into a rebuild year. If the rebuild happens, it is going to have some trickle down effects that many Flyers fans would never hope to see. The next six weeks will determine whether or not the Flyers will have to rebuild.
As the Flyers sit now, at the end of November, they are 6 points out of the last wild card spot and 9 points out of a divisional spot. That is a huge difference than where they sat at the end of October, when the Flyers were in a wild card spot with a 3 point cushion.
The Flyers went 2-5-6 during November. A record that may look bad, but the only reason they still have hope for the playoffs is the 6 OTL / SOL losses. These 6 key points have kept the Flyers close enough to striking distance for the playoffs. One reason why the next six weeks are so important.
However, if the Flyers have another month like this one in December, the trickle down effect will come very soon after with some big pieces being moved to jump start a rebuild.
This 9-game losing streak has put GM Ron Hextall in a position he never thought he would be in this season. A position coming into the season where he thought he might have to acquire someone for a playoff push. But now, trade away some of his most valuable possessions to the highest bidder.
“I try to make this team better every day.” GM Ron Hextall stated, “There’s something that can be done. That doesn’t change throughout the year.”
The trading away of some of the Flyers best players might come as a shock to Flyers fans. However, trades like these redefine an organization. This is something the Flyers did back in 2011 and they had great success in doing it. It could be argued they are still benefiting from them today.
Back in 2011, the Flyers traded away their two best players, Jeff Carter & Mike Richards. Moves that shocked not just the fans of Philadelphia, but the league itself. In doing so, the Flyers got a haul back for their two superstars.
The players acquired were 8th overall pick 2011 (Sean Couturier), Jake Voracek, 3rd round pick 2011 (Nick Cousins), Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and 2nd round pick 2012 (Traded for Nicklas Grossman). These players have been stars in the making ever since their first seasons in a Flyers uniform.
Sean Couturier has been one of the best NHL defensive centers over his career and took another step this year adding offense to his resume. He now has the skill set to be a great #1 center in his league. Couturier is only 24.
Jake Voracek has been an assist machine for the Flyers. He has been at the top of the league lead in assists almost every year as a Flyer including this year, where he leads the team in assists with 23.
Wayne Simmonds has become the league’s most dominant goal-scoring power forward. Simmonds is known for his powerplay speciality and his physical style play on the ice.
Brayden Schenn took a while to get going with the Flyers, benefitting most from the Scott Hartnell trade. Another move many Flyers fans never saw happening. In Hartnell’s absence, Schenn became one of the best powerplay scorers in the NHL.
However, the haul doesn’t end there. To add more to the haul, the Flyers traded Brayden Schenn away at last year’s draft. The reward for his skill set, a veteran forward (Jori Lehtera), 27th overall pick 2017 (Morgan Frost), and a 2018 1st round pick. Therefore, the trades of Jeff Carter & Mike Richards will still be paying off for years to come.
With the success of the past trades, Hextall has a decision to make. He can hold on to what he’s got or trade away one or two of his most valuable pieces and add more to this young group of Flyers.
The players that Hextall will never give up are Sean Couturier, Nolan Patrick, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, and Travis Sanheim. However, players that may be available if the price is right may include Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and Shayne Gostisbehere.
The latter two may come as a shock to Flyers fans. To get better you need to give up something good in return. Wayne Simmonds and Shayne Gostisbehere are the Flyers with the greatest amount of value.
When you look at trades of this caliber over the last few years, these players could return great value. A potential Wayne Simmonds deal could be similar to the deal the Bruins got for Milan Lucic which saw them receive a 1st round pick, a young backup goalie on the cusp of becoming a star (Martin Jones), and an “A” quality defense prospect.
A potential Shayne Gostisbehere deal could be similar to the deal the Flyers actually got for Brayden Coburn. The Flyers got back a 1st round pick, 3rd round pick and a defenseman.
If Hextall can find a similar deal for Simmonds and another likeminded deal for Gostisbehere, they may be no brainers for the Flyers.
However trading away talent like this will bring in all teams and not just teams in the playoff race. Teams looking to build for next season too may also be interested. This will cause a potential bidding war. Which, in the end, will net more reward for the Flyers.
One thing is for certain, this 9-game losing streak is causing the Flyers to think down the road again and not the present.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports