With the Flyers surging, their plans at the fast approaching deadline may have changed. After losing 10 straight, there were talks of the Flyers trading off some of their best veteran players to the highest bidder.
Wayne Simmonds name was mentioned a ton and was going to be the Flyers jewel of the deadline. Simmonds would have netted the Flyers the greatest return. However, that is not the case anymore.
With the Flyers tied for the 2nd spot in the division, they have went from sellers to buyers in a matter of months. But, to make a run in the playoffs, the Flyers still have some positions of need.
When looking at the Flyers needs, the Flyers could use many things. But, one thing stands out. The Flyers need a minutes eating defenseman to pair with Ivan Provorov.
Shayne Gostisbehere has been a tremendous partner to Provorov. However, coach Dave Hakstol has been rotating a Flyers defenseman either 3-4 shifts to get Provorov more ice time. But, even with the rotation, when it comes to the playoffs, all things change.
Coach’s normally shorten their bench and play only 4-5 defenseman a night. If Hakstol chooses to do the same, Gostisbehere is not set up physically to play 23-25 minutes a night alongside Provorov.
With that being the case, the Flyers need to get someone that can. And, boy do the Flyers get lucky because their is a young minutes-eating defenseman on the market. That defenseman is Arizona Coyotes Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a 26-year-old Swedish defenseman in his 8th season in the NHL. Ekman-Larsson has 96 goals and 175 assists in 543 career games.
But, what Ekman-Larsson does best? He plays #1 defense minutes on a nightly basis.
Ekman-Larsson averages 23:43 time on ice over his career. He has averaged more than 24:00 + minutes over the last 6 seasons.
This season, Ekman-Larsson averages 24:22 minutes a night.
But, why would Arizona trade him? Arizona has a choice to make with Ekman-Larsson and it relies on how close they believe they are. If Arizona believes they are close to putting a winning team together, they will just keep Ekman-Larsson.
However, with Ekman-Larsson only having one more year left on his contract, Arizona has to decide if they are ready to compete sooner rather than later. If Ekman-Larsson hit the open market, he would probably not go back to Arizona with the Coyotes on pace for their 4th straight losing season.
That is why the time is right for Arizona to deal Ekman-Larsson at this year’s deadline. The one year left on his contract motivates teams to send more talent to Arizona to get any deal done because he is more than a rental. Another reason to why if you hold onto him till next deadline, you will not get as much as you would now for him because he will be a rental.
So, what would it cost to get Ekman-Larsson?
Well, this is where the Brayden Schenn trade really pays off for the Flyers. With now having two 1st rounds picks because of the trade, the Flyers could package one of them with other pieces to get Ekman-Larsson in the Orange & Black.
A trade that works for both teams could look something like this…
PHI – Oliver Ekman-Larsson
ARZ – Travis Sanheim, Andrew MacDonald, 2018 1st Round Pick (STL or PHI)
Why this works for both teams is one is going into the building stage and the other is starting its rise.
The Coyotes are in a period of time where they have some good young pieces. However, they need a couple more pieces to move forward with to have a better chance at succeeding. Mainly on the defensive side of things.
Arizona gets a young defenseman that is ready to play in the NHL now in Travis Sanheim. A veteran defenseman that can play top 4 minutes a night in Andrew MacDonald. Also, his contract helps the Coyotes hit the cap floor for the next 2 years. And, they get a 1st round pick in a loaded 2018 draft to strength an already young corp of prospects.
The Flyers are starting their rise to the top of the Metro Division with their young rookie talent. But, they still are missing that one guy that takes them over the edge.
Philadelphia gets that one piece to put them over the edge in Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Oliver Ekman-Larsson slots right into the Flyers top pair with Ivan Provorov and has no effect on the Flyers mortgaging the future for the present with Ekman-Larsson being only 26-years-old.
The only somber point to this deal is the Flyers do have to give up a promising young NHL ready defenseman. But, with great drafting over the last couple of years, the Flyers have plenty of other young NHL ready defenseman waiting in the wings behind the departing Sanheim.
After the trade, the Flyers defense corps would look like this…
Provorov – Ekman-Larsson
Gostisbehere – Hagg
Manning – Gudas
Those three pairings are extremely solid. The Flyers would have a pairing that can play 25 + minutes a night in Provorov & Ekman-Larsson. A solid #2 pairing with a power-play specialist in Gostisbehere & Hagg. And, a #3 pairing that could be most teams #2’s pairings in Manning & Gudas.
But, this doesn’t just improve the Flyers position now. It also improves the Flyers future plans too. Without having to wait for Sanheim to mature and succeed, the Flyers get a guy that has already proved himself and has yet to hit his prime.
The Flyers defense corp next year could look like this…
Provorov – Ekman-Larsson
Gostisbehere – Hagg
Morin – Gudas
With Brandon Manning being a free-agent after the season, the Flyers could trade him at the deadline for a veteran bottom pairing defenseman with playoff experience. In his spot next year, insert Sam Morin.
Sam Morin and Radko Gudas could become the leagues best #3 pairing. Both physical guys, the pairing could give the Flyers a solid 20 minutes a night and a solid penalty-kill pairing.
Therefore, with this trade, the Flyers would not be mortgaging the future for one season. No. They would be capitalizing on an opportunity to add a young proven talent for a rookie who has yet to perform at the NHL level.
Lets see how Flyers fans see this…
— Brandon Sommermann (@PSN_BSommermann) January 24, 2018
Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports