“Fire (Uh) [Uh], Fire (It’s all about) [Uh, uh], Fire (Woo, woo, woo), Fire.” These are the words that can be used to describe the Philadelphia Flyers here as of late, not Chef Gordon Ramsay from Hell’s Kitchen. Coming off a mandatory bye week instituted by the NHL. The orange and black didn’t lose a step in their game, as they beat their rivals the New Jersey Devils to win their fourth consecutive game.
It’s a feel good story at the Wells Fargo Center these days for the orange and black. The Flyers are now one point out of the last wild card spot, with one game in hand over the New York Rangers. They are just rocking and rolling at the moment. With that being said are the Flyers buyers or sellers at the trade deadline on February 26, 2018?
General Manager Ron Hextall has been very patient with this young Flyers team. He has preached patience to the fans and media alike for years now. Furthermore, it was never about this year, rather it’s about one to two years from now. The Flyers don’t have the best farm system in the NHL for nothing right.
Hextall has changed the culture of the orange and black. They are a more patient bunch, then in years past. This trade deadline will be no different from years past with Hextall still at the helm. With the Flyers currently contending for a playoff spot. Fans can expect small moves at the deadline, rather than a major trade.
Brandon Manning- Traded for Draft Picks
Manning is an ideal candidate to be traded. He is in the last year of his contract, and has a cap hit of $975,000. For these reasons this makes him an ideal player to be traded to a playoff contender. He currently has 4 goals, 5 assists, a plus 2, and is averaging well over 22 minutes a game here as of late. One may begin to wonder if the top brass is showcasing him for a trade, as young defenseman Travis Sanheim can only sit in the press box for so long. If Manning is donning a Flyers sweater by the end of the deadline, it will be a shock to many.
Radko Gudas- Stays Put
Gudas has been a solid defenseman since he has returned from suspension. He has registered 0 goals, 4 assists, and is a plus 3 on the season. Gudas has a decent cap hit of $3.35 million, and is still very young at the age of 27. This young defenseman has been averaging 18 minutes of ice time in the past 5 games. However, what scares playoff contenders away is his last 10 game suspension. The league and teams alike are well aware of history, and it will detract buyers away at the deadline. If Gudas didn’t get issued that 10 game suspension, then he would absolutely be gone. Unfortunately, until Gudas proves he can stay suspension free for a season. The Flyers will be stuck with him until his contract ends after the 2019-20 concludes.
Michal Neuvirth- Traded for Draft Picks, Maybe a Low Prospect
Neuvirth signed a two-year deal with the Flyers in 2015. In his first season with the orange and black he posted an 18-8-4 record, 2.27 GAA, and .924 Save Percentage. Neuvirth also guided the Flyers to an unexpected playoff berth, where he was just flatout phenomenal in 3 games played against the Washington Capitals. For the playoffs Neuvirth posted a 2-1 record, .67 GAA, and a .981 Save Percentage. The Flyers eventually fell to the Capitals in 6 games, but Neuvirth proved to the Flyers he could handle pressure.
The 29 year old goaltender in Neuvirth has become more consistent, but still can’t stay healthy for a full season. Neuvirth was previously on the shelf for two weeks with a leg injury. For the 2017-18 season, he has registered a 3-5-1 record, 2.48 GAA, .921 Save Percentage, and 1 shutout. Moreover, Neuvirth has decent career regular season numbers with a 98-87-23 record, 2.67 GAA, .912 Save Percentage, and 11 shutouts. He is great in the playoffs by posting a 6-6 record, 1.92 GAA, and a .933 Save Percentage, so it shows he can handle the big stage.
This young netminder in Neuvirth has really solid playoff numbers for a contender. With the emergence of Carter Hart for the Everett Silvertips in the WHL. The Flyers will already be faced with many questions in regards to goaltending in the off-season with Anthony Stolarz (RFA), Alex Lyon (RFA), and Hart. Trading Neuvirth to forgo the last year of his contract next season, maybe a viable option for the Flyers. In turn, the Flyers could turn to Alex Lyon to take over the backup duties roll for the time being.
Jori Lehtera- Stays Put
Lehtera has registered 0 goals, 3 assists, and is a -3 in 25 games played this season. He registered a career high 44 points in 2014-15, but he’s far from that this season. Hextall has worked his magic before with Luke Schenn and Vincent Lecavlier, maybe he can do it again. Of course, the Flyers would likely have to eat half of his $4.7 million cap hit for the rest of the season, and next year as well. However, if teams were desperate enough for him, then they would have already done so.
It’s just not logical for Lehtera to be moved, and another main reason of such is Taylor Leier. Why would teams go after Lehtera, when Leier has a cap hit of $806,558. Moreover, Leier becomes a restricted free agent at years end. The only way Lehtera could possibly get moved is if he’s dealt in a package deal. This seems to be highly unlikely for the playoff contending Flyers, unless the price is right.
Taylor Leier- Stays Put
Leier has been a class act thus far for the orange and black. For whatever reason, Head Coach Dave Hakstol hasn’t used him lately, and instead plays Lehtera. Leier is gritty, fast, and sometimes flashes his puck handling skills. For the season, Leier has registered 1 goal, and 3 assists in 31 games played. The Flyers would be wise in holding onto Leier. At times the 24 year old playmaker resembles a young Patrick Sharp. Leier continues to sit in the press box, as he has to clear waivers in order to be sent to the Phantoms. The Flyers are hesitant to do such a move, as Leier would most likely be scooped up by another team off waivers.
His time is coming sooner rather than later, as the Flyers at the moment are showcasing Lehtera for trade purposes. At the deadline the asking price will be too high for Leier, and it will scare some playoff contenders away.
It’s another year of boredom at the trade deadline for the orange and black. The only way the Flyers make a major trade, is if they are completely out of playoff contention on February 26. Hopefully, the Flyers are able to right the ship this time following the deadline, and make the playoffs. One thing is certain Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports