It’s been a week for the Flyers and their fans. From news of being in on nearly every name thats come across the ticker to top-dog on the market Dougie Hamilton not being their first priority, the Flyers have been playing marionette with our hearts all week long. Gut feeling says that this won’t be the worst of it as we are still a month away from the draft and even longer from the start of free agency.
The best part about this time in the year is the rumors. Let’s be honest. If it wasn’t for rumors, the content would be boring. The what-if’s and hypotheticals are always the most fun to dive into because everyone has an idea of what the Flyers should be looking to do to improve before the 2021/22 season. Right or wrong, it’s still fun to guess what they’re going to do in order to improve.
While it appears the Flyers may not bring in Dougie Hamilton, there are still a few options out there that could be an immediate improvement on the blueline. Quite frankly, bringing in a middle-of-the-road defenseman would be an improvement considering the year we just witnessed. Regardless, one name that may be the most affordable to the Flyers would be Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild. His $6 million cap hit would be substantially less than what Hamilton will inevitably sign for. While Seth Jones is over half a million dollars cheaper, he’s on record saying that he wants to test free agency when his current deal expires.
Obviously Jones and Hamilton are the two biggest fish available at the moment. With the Flyers needing much more than just a top-pairing defenseman opposite of Ivan Provorov, striking a deal with Minnesota for Dumba may be the most logical route that Chuck Fletcher could go.
What Matt Dumba Brings to the Flyers
Matt Dumba would likely be the guy to solidify the first pair with Ivan Provorov. Again, it’s worth reiterating that Dougie Hamilton and Seth Jones should be considered here before Matt Dumba. With that being said, this might be the easiest route to go if Chuck Fletcher is looking to be a bit more fiscally responsible and give up less than he would for Hamilton or Jones.
While he doesn’t bring quite what the aforementioned two bring, he would bring a physical presence that this team has lacked for quite some time. Say what you will about that being a valuable attribute, but it speaks volumes when you have a guy like that patrolling the blueline. His career-high in points came during the 2017/18 season where he posted 50 (14g, 36a) in his only complete 82 game season to-date. Since then, his point production has fallen off a bit. However, the Flyers shouldn’t be looking for a guy who can pitch in 50+ points per season from the blueline. Bringing in a guy who can prevent a guy like Mika Zibanejad from totalling six points in one night against the Flyers should take precedence.
Why Minnesota would Deal Matt Dumba
Minnesota is in a precarious position with the upcoming expansion draft. They have two forwards and three defenseman that they are obligation to protect due to no-movement clauses. Zach Parise and Mats Zuccarello are the two forwards, followed by Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter, and Jonas Brodin on the back end. Matt Dumba’s modified no-movement clause doesn’t kick in until the beginning of the 2021/22 season, so the Wild aren’t mandated to protect him in the upcoming expansion draft.
If Minnesota goes the 7-3-1 route and protects only three defenseman, Dumba is the odd man out. If they go the eight players one goalie route, that leaves three protection spots open while having to protect guys like Victor Rask, Marcus Foligno, Joel Eriksson Ek, Jordan Greenway, and Kevin Fiala. Bill Guerin may see more value in offloading Dumba this offseason to get something in return before potentially losing him for nothing if Seattle decides to pluck him.
Minnesota could use some depth at the center position, which isn’t necessarily the Flyers’ forte at the moment. However, the Flyers do have some prospects a la Morgan Frost who they could include in a package that may pique Guerin’s attention. There would be more moving parts to a deal for Dumba, but offering up at least one center would get the conversation off on the right foot.
Why Philadelphia would Want Matt Dumba
The Flyers are in desperate need of an upgrade on the blueline. Aside from Nolan Patrick, that’s been the main discussion ever since the Flyers season wrapped up. Whoever they turn their attention to, there is likely going to be a bidding war to obtain their services. While other clubs lay their cards on the table for guys like Dougie Hamilton and Seth Jones, the Flyers could put their chips towards acquiring Dumba. While there will surely be other suitors, the Flyers should stop at nothing to upgrade their defensive core.
All that jargon aside, here are the facts:
The Flyers were dead last in goals against, and subsequently goals against per game. They had the second-worst penalty killing unit in the NHL. Their powerplay was just under middle-of-the-road territory at 17th. Their team save percentage was the lowest in the league as well. That’s the long-ish form way of saying that the Flyers defense needs help. Dumba would provide the Flyers with the capability to eat some big minutes and play on either special teams unit. While not a certified stud on either the penalty kill or powerplay, he has the ability to play both and lessen the load on Provorov.
Thrilla in Phila?
While Chuck is on the phone about Dumba, it’s worth kicking the tires on one of their younger forwards as well. Friday night, it was reported by Kevin Weekes that Calder finalist Kirill Kaprizov was spotted in Moscow, Russia.
While spicy, it was later made clear as to why Kaprizov was in Moscow for the weekend by Michael Russo of The Athletic.
Russo went on to mention in the second tweet of this thread that Kaprizov’s only two options are signing with Minnesota or his former KHL team, CSKA Moscow. He also mentioned that as part of contract negotiations, Minnesota has offered only long-term deals while Kirill is looking for a short-term deal. If Kaprizov were to make the jump back to Russia, Minnesota would retain his rights until he decides to come back. That is, unless he comes back after the age of 27, therefore becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Let’s say negotiations take a turn and go south. If Minnesota is convinced that Kaprizov isn’t going to sign with them, maybe they look at the trade market to get some sort of return on investment. What better team than the Flyers and the guy who drafted Kaprizov to turn to and discuss a deal?
While there’s little-to-no substance to this, Fletcher is no stranger to trading for the rights to sign a player. Flyers fans saw it happen when he traded a fifth round pick to get the rights to exclusively negotiate with Kevin Hayes. While looking at acquiring Dumba, it may be worth seeing what Minnesota would want in return for Kaprizov’s negotiating rights. Not to mention, Fletcher did draft Kaprizov…
As fantastic as it all sounds, there’s really no sense in making this deal if you’re Minnesota. Kaprizov would fit in nicely with the Flyers, but it’s all just wishful thinking at this point.
Over the next few weeks, we’re set to hear how the Flyers are or should be in on damn-near every defenseman that could hit the market via free agency or trade. Rightfully so. The blueline’s performance this past season was abysmal and an upgrade should be the number one priority for Fletcher. Matt Dumba may not be at the top of the list, but that shouldn’t discount the Flyers from seeing what it would take to get him in orange and black.
Depending on where their priorities lie in terms of acquiring help on the back-end, Dumba would be a solid get. He could bring a physical presence to this team that has been lacking for the better part of a decade. He could eat minutes, contribute on the powerplay if need be, and spell Provorov of some special teams duties to keep him from playing an absurd amount of time per night. Signed for $6 million per season for the next two, he would also be attractive from a financial standpoint. That type of figure could allow for the Flyers to address more needs, seeing as that laundry list never seems to end.
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