At the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, Chuck Fletcher made the move to bring in a 29-year-old center. Exchanged to the Anaheim Ducks for Derek Grant were a 27-year-old center, Kyle Criscuolo, and a fourth-round pick. In all, Fletcher relinquished a middle-round draft pick that was equivalent to where Grant was drafted and an AHL talent. In return, the Philadelphia Flyers received a player who seems to be finding his stride in the NHL as a bottom-six center. After reviewing Grant’s current trajectory, this trade could be an investment beyond 2019-2020.
Should the Philadelphia Flyers be interested? This is Derek Grant’s best cumulative season in the NHL. Split between his time with the Anaheim Ducks and the Flyers, Grant has 25 points, most of which are goals. He surpassed his best season in ten fewer games, which was back in 2017-2018. Grant seemed to work best with the Ducks in comparison to any of his other teams, but Philadelphia breaks that cycle.
Should the Philadelphia Flyers consider it? In seven games with the Flyers, Derek Grant has become a playmaker, tallying five points. One of his assists resulted in a short-handed goal. It’s a small sample size, but Grant hasn’t adapted to the Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres, Nashville Predators, or the Pittsburgh Penguins quite as he has with Philadelphia. That may be because he fits well with Alain Vigneault’s system.
The moment that Derek Grant was signed, I did my research. What popped immediately is that he provides a similar feature that Kevin Hayes possesses. That is the ability to score short-handed goals. With the Anaheim Ducks, before the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, Grant already scored three short-handed goals. Grant proved capable to create scoring chances on the penalty kill in his short time with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Alain Vigneault is going to want to provide opportunities to the players on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms too. Morgan Frost was a good hand in his first opportunity on NHL ice. The real decision is about keeping Tyler Pitlick over Derek Grant. Pitlick has recorded twenty points this season, all during even-strength hockey. The best season for Pitlick was with the Dallas Stars, also in 2017-2018.
It’s salary cap friendly to extend Derek Grant rather than resign Tyler Pitlick. Before the beginning of the 2019-2020 NHL season, Pitlick was signed to a one-year, $750k contract with a 250k signing bonus. Grant, via trade, is currently $700k against the Philadelphia Flyers cap. This would be a short-term extension that allows Morgan Frost to find his feet at the NHL level and Misha Vorobyev to be a bottom-six center. For Grant, I would go in the ballpark of a two-year, $2mil contract.
Extending Derek Grant is worth the consideration if a veteran center is continuing to be a commodity among successful hockey franchises. The Philadelphia Flyers have turned a corner and is on the cusp of being an elite hockey team. With Grant’s skill set and versatility he brings to the offense and special teams, he could provide good guidance to Connor Bunnaman and German Rubtsov. The trick is to sign cap-friendly players who produce. Grant fits the description.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports