The answer isn’t as easy as “go out and get a top pair right-handed defenseman.” If the solution was that simple, the Flyers would have acquired every buzzword player around the fanbase. Articulating a mutual agreement between two franchises requires the correct assets. Philadelphia is in a position to buy, but they have a budget.
Per CapFriendly, the Flyers have just over $868k available. On the active roster, two forwards, two defensemen, and three goaltenders are open to contract negotiations ahead of the 2021-2022 season. Two other players were on the 2021 taxi squad, but they’ll be a non-factor.
Next month, the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft will decide for Chuck Fletcher which player is no longer on Philadelphia’s payroll. It would be wise for Fletcher to expose an expensive contract. Striking a deal with Ron Francis to take James van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek, or Shayne Gostisbehere will help the Flyers with offseason plans. If one of the more expensive forwards leaves to the Seattle Kraken, suddenly free agents become affordable. Now, do you trade and extend for Seth Jones or get into a bidding war for Dougie Hamilton?
First, consider what these teams are looking for in return.
What would Seth Jones cost the Flyers?
To pry Seth Jones away from the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Philadelphia Flyers need to package a deal based on team needs and value. Dress a package up with moderately priced contracts, a prospect, and a valuable draft pick. If you’re a conservative armchair general manager holding sentimental value for a player, warning; this isn’t for the faint of heart.
Currently, Jones is making $5.4mil through 2021-2022. He’ll make more in Philadelphia. Chuck Fletcher won’t construct a blockbuster trade package without the intention of locking Jones down.
Jones already made his wishes clear that he wants to test free agency after the 2021-2022 season. While Columbus controls trade negotiations for Jones, the leverage diminishes through next season. Under a no-trade clause, Jones has a shortlist of where he wants to go. The Blue Jackets will scour rosters to find a replacement for Jones, an impact winger to match with Patrik Laine, or an impact center to cooperate with Laine. Fortunately, the Flyers check most of those boxes to fulfill team needs in Columbus.
Fletcher will have to include a first or second-round draft pick, pending on what the market is. Sending Travis Sanheim in a package makes sense, especially with Cam York moving into Philadelphia’s lineup. If the Blue Jackets require forward relief, Travis Konecny makes sense. Morgan Frost remains the prospect in question, especially for a team that wants a center.
Ideally, the Flyers could send Sanheim, Frost, and the thirteenth overall pick (to complement three other first-round selections) to Columbus ahead of a deep 2021 NHL Entry Draft class of defensemen.
What would Dougie Hamilton cost?
The stars must align for the Philadelphia Flyers to afford Dougie Hamilton. Currently, he’s making $5.75mil with the expectation to make between $8mil-$9mil per season on his next deal.
CapFriendly has the Flyers’ projected cap space around $12.2mil in 2021-2022. Carter Hart and Travis Sanheim are two players up for extension before then. Already, Philadelphia is not in the wheelhouse to compete in a bidding war.
Unlike the Flyers, the Carolina Hurricanes expect to have $27.7mil in cap space in 2021-2022. They’ll have more than enough funds to prioritize Hamilton. Of course, the Hurricanes have more players who require offers and extensions before next season, but more than double Philadelphia’s budget. The odds of securing Hamilton seems slim.
Chuck Fletcher must show his skill as an NHL general manager. Making a deal with Ron Francis ahead of the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft plays a crucial role in landing Hamilton. Jakub Voracek is exposed in a deal to be selected by the Seattle Kraken. His $8.25mil per season contract is daunting, but it’s the only option if the endgame is to acquire Hamilton. Negotiations with Francis, including a draft pick and a player to take Voracek, acts like a sign-and-trade for Hamilton.
It’s a tight window on a hail mary, but not impossible.
Who would you prefer to see the Flyers sign?
Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire