Speculation is running rampant, and rightfully so. The Flyers are in a precarious position, sitting just 6 points out of the last Eastern Conference wildcard spot. After a dreadful first half to the season, the Flyers seem to have righted the ship, but that shouldn’t skew general manager Chuck Fletcher’s frame of mind come the NHL trade deadline.
The Flyers are flush with players who are ripe to be dealt, and potentially garner a decent return. Here’s the top three candidates, ranked on perceived likelihood of them being traded at, or before, the trade deadline
3. Michael Raffl
Raffl starts the list because of his role on the team. The Austrian winger would be a solid get for a team looking to solidify the bottom half of their offense. With a cap hit of $2.35 million for this season and his pending unrestricted free agent status, it makes him a prime candidate to be a low-level rental come the trade deadline.
While only posting 11 points in 43 games this year, Raffl plays the jack of all trades for a team that may be one key piece away from making a run at the Stanley Cup. He’s seen top line minutes, and is now filling a bottom 6 role under Scott Gordon’s regime. He will fight in the corners, and has a great shot to pair with his physicality. A team like Toronto or Calgary could be looking for someone like Raffl to bolster their 3rd or 4th line in an attempt to make a run at the cup.
2. Wayne Simmonds
Simmonds is the most frequently talked about player on the Flyers’ roster that has the potential to be dealt this year. His cap hit is a meager $3.975 million and he brings to the table a toughness and edge that many contending teams could find gives them an advantage when the postseason rolls around. Much like Raffl, Wayne will be an unrestricted free agent at years end, and the timing is right to cash in on the Wayne Train.
With his stats on the decline, Fletcher could still work some magic and send Simmonds to a team who could be desperate for that net-front presence on the powerplay, or for a physical forward who can soak up some minutes in a 2nd or 3rd line role. While he likely won’t fetch the “1st, NHL player, and prospect” that many think he should, it isn’t too far fetched to think he could still manage a 1st and a prospect, or upper-tier prospect and maybe a 2nd or 3rd round pick.
1. Radko Gudas
Gudas at number one is solely based on the fact that the Flyers have recently re-called Phil Myers, and also have Sam Morin waiting in the wings as well. However, his contract and demeanor tell us that he would be a fantastic sell at the deadline as well.
After the Jake Muzzin deal to Toronto, that set the market very high in terms of what a team can get for a rental defenseman. While Gudas wouldn’t necessarily be a rental, having one more year left on his deal, he would be a great discount defenseman for a team looking to shore up that bottom pairing. Gudas isn’t the flashiest guy on the ice, but he knows his role, and he plays it well. Some would argue he has been the most defensively sound defenseman the Flyers have this year.
So why trade him?
Well, because of the aforementioned situation with Myers and Morin, and because defensemen will probably fetch a premium price on the market at the deadline, and especially a right-handed defensive player. Gudas plays with an edge, and that edge could really help a team when it comes to the playoffs. He has strayed away from those nasty hits he used to dish and end up getting suspended for, but he teeters that line so well.
His cap hit is about a half a million dollars less than Simmonds, and he would be a perfect bottom pairing defenseman on a team looking to make that last move to shore up a Stanley Cup run.
Debate, agree, disagree, throw some more names out there. Who do you think is likeliest to get dealt this year at the deadline?
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports