Why The Flyers Were Smart To Avoid A Big Splash At The Trade Deadline

Chuck Fletcher
Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher speaks to the media during an introductory press conference for head coach Alain Vigneault at the Flyer’s practice facility, Thursday, April 18, 2019, in Voorhees, N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Fishing for a trade is dangerous before the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers deserve praise for their patience.

Thirst makes decisions seem better than they often are. Millennials, such as myself, understand “thirst” attached to a negative connotation. How does this relate to hockey?

Thankfully, the NHL trade deadline has passed. Every Philadelphian was falling for a thirst trap.

Last night, I tuned into Twitter to watch the allergic reactions to the Taylor Hall and Jeff Carter trades. Boston Bruins fans feel they won the Hall sweepstakes while the Buffalo Sabres make out like gangbusters. I saw people claim they wouldn’t be surprised if Ron Hextall’s Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, Victor Mete and Anders Bjork offer more longevity and value to their new clubs. NHL trade deadline madness has struck a nerve.

Many wanted Chuck Fletcher to make a move while I prayed he was napping with the phone disconnected.

That’s an unpopular opinion, sure. Before the NHL Expansion Draft, what trades could the Philadelphia Flyers make to benefit the future? Fletcher was intelligent in holding off. Making transactions for draft picks makes sense.

Why Were The Flyers Right to Remain Inactive?

Currently, the Flyers have $5.394mil of remaining cap space (following Scott Laughton’s extension, then trading Erik Gustafsson and Michael Raffl for draft picks.) Replacements for next season are ready. The retooling process for Philadelphia isn’t grueling. Raffl will be removed from Philadelphia’s payroll at the end of this season. An additional $2.156mil becomes available following the end of the buyout of Andrew McDonald and David Schlemko.

Already, Philadelphia reaches $9.15mil to extend pivotal players. Carter Hart and Travis Sanheim are requirements for the Flyers. When the Seattle Kraken choose their player from Philadelphia, more money is available. Jakub Voracek or James van Riemsdyk could likely be selected, freeing up a solid chunk of cap room.

Now, the Flyers are in a position to make the right moves to replenish problem areas. If the Kraken select either one of those two players, a range of $7mil to $8.25mil is alleviated. Philadelphia could sign a stable defenseman to partner with Ivan Provorov.

Replacing van Riemsdyk and Voracek comes at an affordable price in this market. The Flyers could easily rely on prospects in the bottom six and promote a player like Laughton to the top six.

Fletcher is protecting assets by not making a move and overanalyzing a shortened, strange NHL season.

There’s No Need To Panic

Raise your hand if you were clamoring for Patrik Laine or Pierre-Luc DuBois. Now, keep your hand up if you understand Jack Roslovic is the value within that trade package.

Being thirsty for a trade doesn’t benefit anyone. Many were ready to trade the house for DuBois or Laine. They wouldn’t sniff the top eight on the current Philadelphia roster in team scoring this season. Laughton has been more valuable than both of those skaters.

The discussion becomes different when speaking of defensemen. Gustafsson was always the incorrect signing for the Flyers (evident by his trade to the Montreal Canadiens for a seventh-round pick in 2022.) Today, Dmitry Kulikov moved to the Edmonton Oilers for a conditional fourth-round pick. He was a steal because of his contract during the 2020 NHL offseason in comparison to Gustafsson. A conditional fourth-round pick for Kulikov only accentuates that notion.

Next year, Mattias Ekholm is due $3.75mil. He’s been on many fans’ wish lists to arrive in Philadelphia via a trade. When the roster is finalized following the NHL Expansion Draft, it makes more sense to go after Ekholm, especially without sacrificing protection slots.