Shayne Gostisbehere trade leaves Flyers more questions than answers

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One day removed from the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, Chuck Fletcher made another trade, this time involving Shayne Gostisbehere.

No, that’s not right. A trade implies that the Philadelphia Flyers received something tangible in return.

Fletcher made a deal. He sent Shayne Gostisbehere to the Arizona Coyotes along with a 2022 second and seventh-round pick. The Coyotes, who are without a 2021 first-round pick, are bundling as many as they can in 2022. Arizona likely is planning to parlay assets to trade up in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, forging a first-round pick. For the Flyers, they free $4.5mil in cap space.

Currently, Philadelphia has ~$13.9M available in cap space. They still need to extend Travis Sanheim and Carter Hart, assign a backup goaltender and replace Gostisbehere. Trading him for no return isn’t the best decision, regardless of the looming flat cap era.

If there was any team the Flyers could have leveraged in a deal, it was the Coyotes. Understandably, Fletcher didn’t want to trade the first-round pick. Antti Raanta wasn’t protected. Fletcher, potentially, could have made the same trade for Raanta.

No Interest in Shayne Gostisbehere

Nolan Patrick proved to have more value than Shayne Gostisbehere this offseason. Let that sink in.

Sure, the cap environment is tough to navigate in the flat cap era. It’s only going to be worse following a trade that creates another hole without a replacement. Gostisbehere found his groove after clearing waivers last season. The inability of not acquiring a missing piece for him is an indictment on Chuck Fletcher’s negotiations in this specific deal. Receiving two picks and a top-four defenseman for free doesn’t make sense.

Ryan Ellis, a top-pair defenseman, is a Philadelphia Flyer. All that took was Philippe Myers, a healthy scratch during some of last season, and Nolan Patrick, who finished with an almost league-worst plus-minus rating. Gostisbehere, the leader of the Flyers’ first powerplay unit, attracted nothing.

Antti Raanta would command less than his $4.25mil contract as an unrestricted free agent. It is malpractice to ignore that when assessing a trade with another franchise. Losing an asset and draft capital for cap space should only happen if a player is bereft of value. The Arizona Coyotes won this trade.

Now, Fletcher needs to sign a top-four right-handed defenseman when Justin Braun on the bottom-pair was already a concern.

What the Chuck!?

According to Chuck Fletcher, there were a few factors that accompanied his decision. First, he mentioned Travis Sanheim and Carter Hart receiving a raise in their extension.

“When you factor in the expected raises that Sanheim and Carter Hart will receive, and we very much want to sign those two players, we didn’t have a lot of space left to fill the holes we needed to fill.”

Chuck Fletcher; 7/22/21

Sorry, but Fletcher shouldn’t be giving such a distinguished raise to Sanheim and Hart. Sanheim is coming off the worst season of his career. The same is true about Hart. Trading Shayne Gostisbehere, who performed at a higher level than Sanheim last season, because there’s a worry about raises to those players is backward. Combined, an extension to Hart and Sanheim would have left the Philadephia Flyers with ~$3.3mil to sign a goaltender.

“This is purely a cap move. Again, we do feel in the not too distant future that players like Cam York and Egor Zamula can come in, play for this club and help this club and do so potentially on an entry level deal, which is beneficial in the cap system.”

Chuck Fletcher; 7/22/21

Fletcher mentioned other proposals from other teams regarding Gostisbehere.

One team wanted Cam York, and another asked for the Flyers 2021 first-round pick to take on Gostisbehere’s $4.5mil hit. Rightfully, Fletcher didn’t give up York with Gostisbehere. Both of those proposals would be ludicrous to combine with Gostisbehere to clear cap space.

Fletcher offered a qualifying tender to Hart. He openly understands other needs require attention following Gostisbehere’s departure. Other players are attainable, but this is a very roundabout way of preparing for the next season. Fletcher is eyeing a right-handed shooting defenseman if he doesn’t move Sanheim to the right side. Cody Ceci could be an inexpensive fit, especially since Fletcher’s philosophy is bending that way.

Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre

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