The 2018 offseason is about to begin, and it’s sizing up to be a fun one for the Philly faithful. Ron Hextall has a little bit of money to spend, and the possibilities are seemingly endless. The Flyers could pursue high-profile free agents like John Carlson and John Tavares. They have the assets to pull of a trade to acquire a high caliber offensive winger to compliment their already potent top two lines, or help their ailing third and fourth lines.
Realistically, none of those may happen. Hextall could end up building through the draft as he always has, but the Flyers fans are growing restless. They are ready for a winning team, and they’re ready right now.
Other teams have come out, stating that essentially everyone is for sale for the right price. Carolina has been one of them, and the rumor mill is centering around Jeff Skinner. Skinner would be a great addition to the Flyers, helping bolster their young offense, and even mentoring some of the kids coming up from Lehigh Valley.
On the other hand, you have the Arizona Coyotes, who have a plethora of young talent, but can’t seem to be able to pull it together when it counts. They have a decent chunk of change to play around with this offseason, but with Oliver Ekman-Larsson potentially commanding a sizeable increase in pay from his current 5.5 million dollars a year, and with even more money to spend on skaters entering the offseason without a contract, a few of those expiring deals may be appealing to deal away for assets and or picks.
One of those deals who would be a great fit in Philadelphia is Max Domi. Domi is a young, talented winger who would fit in perfectly with the young core of the Flyers, and their even younger cavalry coming up through the system. It remains to be seen, however, if Arizona would be willing to part with the young talent.
Given the current state of the Flyers roster, and the needs they have, only one of these players are a realistic grab for Hextall. This begs the question, which one is the best fit?
On one hand, Jeff Skinner is an established goal scorer on a team that has publicly stated that him, among many others, are potentially available via trade. Skinner has a no-movement clause, and it remains to be seen if the Flyers are on his list of teams that are approved to be traded to. His contract is good for one more year at a 5.725 million dollar cap hit, which is definitely affordable for Philadelphia.
His play this past year dropped off a bit, but that could also be due to the lack of success the Hurricanes had this year. Sources have said that the Canes GM wants a first round pick and an NHL ready prospect for Skinner, so who could be on the block?
Well, the Flyers have two first round picks this draft, so one could become expendable if Hextall sees fit. As for prospects, there’s no shortage of those in the Flyers’ system. Aside from Morgan Frost and Carter Hart, any other prospect could make sense, and some could even see NHL time with Carolina. The Flyers could give up a combination of their 19th overall pick, with a prospect such as Phil Varone, German Rubtsov, even Noah Cates or Isaac Ratcliffe to acquire Skinner’s services.
Sanheim’s name has been floated out there as an option to package with the pick for Skinner, but with the blue line thinning out with the loss of Johnny Oduya, Brandon Manning, and Samuel Morin for the first half of the season, realistically, Hextall won’t want to part ways with the young blueliner. Not to mention, his value, plus a first round selection, warrants more than just Jeff Skinner.
As for Max Domi, the Flyers would end up having to trade for his rights, seeing as he is a restricted free agent with the Coyotes. With Domi’s down year, he could come at a more affordable price than Skinner. His price tag may even be cheaper when the deal is all said and done. Craig Morgan of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM said in an article dated back to mid-February:
Because Domi has struggled, his value on the trade market is lower than it would have been a year ago. Chayka is not inclined to trade a devalued asset for less than he believes Domi is worth, especially when the Coyotes believe he can get back to his previous production levels, and he fits well with the culture Tocchet is trying to create.
Trading for Domi could take more than Hextall is willing to spend, but we all know that Hextall has a way of pulling off deals that shock the fan base, in a good way. A deal for Max Domi could parallel the kind of deal Carolina is looking for when it comes to Jeff Skinner. However, the most appealing factor is Domi’s age. That may be the determining factor on whether or not Hextall pulls off a trade for him or Skinner.
Skinner is 26, which is in no way, shape, or form old for an NHL player. Max Domi, on the other hand, is 23. Domi is only a few years older than the prosects Ron Hextall covets so dearly. He would be a great fit with those prospects, but Jeff Skinner could be even more valuable as a mentor for those same prospects.
With the uncertainty that surrounds Max Domi’s contract situation, and the fact that it’s already been put out there that Skinner is available, it makes the most sense to go after Jeff Skinner. His price is more definite, and the Flyers can afford the extra cap hit of his, and still have money left over to upgrade through free agency.
This isn’t to say that if Carolina doesn’t see fit to deal within the divison, the Flyers should rule out going after Domi. However, if given the choice to make one deal, the Skinner deal would benefit the Flyers more than a Domi deal. There’s just too many variables with Domi that are undecided, Skinner offers a more certain return, and would automatically upgrade the third line if he slots in at C, or the second or first line if he slots in as a winger.
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