This time of year, every year, the trade rumors are swirling faster than an F5 tornado. Every year it seems to be the same story, the Flyers are one or two key pieces away from being serious Stanley Cup contenders. This year is no different.
After underachieving last year with a 39-32-10 year, the Flyers are overachieving this year with a 28-19-10 record, and sitting in a playoff position with about a month and a half of hockey left to play. They’ve put themselves in a position that many fans didn’t believe they could at the beginning of the year. With the influx of rookies and young talent they Flyers have implemented into their roster, many believed this would be a rebuilding year, or the closest thing to a rebuilding year in the Flyers’ definition.
Lo and behold, the Flyers are primed to contend for the cup, and are only a piece or two away from being taken seriously. However, that piece will be the hardest to obtain, considering the circumstances.
With Brian Elliott going down a week ago against Arizona, the Flyers are in a tough spot. Michael Neuvirth has shown that he can shoulder the load, but has also shown that he can fold under the pressure of being turned to as the number one guy. Current backup Alex Lyon isn’t exactly an ideal replacement, given his performances this year in the NHL. So what happens at the deadline?
The Flyers will certainly be looking to acquire a competent goaltender that, if asked to shoulder the load in place of Neuvy, may just be able to do so. What is stopping the Flyers from doing so with ease is two fold. On one hand, other teams have been monitoring the situation in Philadelphia, and understand their need for a goaltender with experience at the NHL level. To further complicate matters for the orange and black, those teams are also very aware of the prospect pool the Flyers possess. This makes things extremely difficult going forward.
With the deadline looming, scouts are doing their research on teams that may be lurking and looking to pick off a player at a cost-effective rate. There is no team in the NHL that isn’t aware that the Flyers need a goalie. Now that these teams know how desperate the Flyers are for a goalie, they are going to drive up the asking price.
It all boils down to supply and demand. The Flyers are in demand of a goalie, and the other teams are going to sell high and capitalize on the Flyers’ need. It’s a simple concept. You always want to get the most bang for your buck, and if you know the other party is in a tough spot, you can bump up the asking price.
What makes this even more difficult is the fact that the Flyers have the most talented pool of prospects in the NHL, which makes it an easy target for other teams to try and pry away a piece of two from that pool. Teams will use that to their advantage when Hextall comes calling and willing to kick the tires on a deal for a netminder.
Sure, there are some prospects that are expendable, but in Hextall’s “future first” mentality, he may not be willing to part with some of them. It may be worth sitting on them for a year or so, seeing if they can produce at the pro level, and then making a decision on whether or not they can be used as “trade bait.” The decision becomes very difficult because of the caliber of prospects the Flyers have in the AHL and Junior Leagues.
Chances are, teams are going to ask too much in exchange for one of their netminders, and maybe Hextall ends up standing pat at the deadline. Maybe Hextall decides he can bare to part with one or two prospects for a quick fix in net for this season. That’s the beauty of the deadline. Things happen at the drop of a hat. We won’t know until February 26th rolls around and we’re all glued to our seats at home, watching TSN or NHL Network, and waiting on the trades to start rolling in.
Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports