The Philadelphia Flyers will be sellers at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.
John Tortorella was transparent in his latest sentiments to the season ticket holders. The Flyers aren’t there yet, but he is proud of how the roster competes, impressed by some of the prospects, and satisfied with the response from veteran players.
Two nights ago, Philadelphia dropped one at home to the New York Islanders, a game Tortorella marked as a test for what is to come as the 2022-2023 season enters the final third:
“We’re going to find out about some people when we start playing these games here, in the checking part of it, because teams are going to ramp that up. It’s going to be really interesting to see how guys react.”John Tortorella; 2/6/2023
Teams on the cusp of a playoff berth or currently holding a postseason placement will bring a harder, more physical style of play. Tortorella constantly watches how his roster reacts to challenges. It’s how he keeps a grip on who is a part of the rebuild moving forward and which assets should be dealt by the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline for the greater good.
Establishing an identity is at the forefront of what the Flyers are trying to accomplish, which means finding a direction to advance. Tortorella and his transparency are refreshing, but the action before March 3rd, 2023, relies on the rest of the front office.
Chuck Fletcher is still the GM in Philadelphia. Tortorella knows the kind of players he requires for the system he implements, but are the decision-makers on the same page? Some assets to move ahead of the deadline are no-brainers due to cap space and offseason eligibility after 2022-2023. Others might not be as obvious or not moved at the right time.
Here are a few players the Flyers could deal ahead of the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline:
Hayes is the most complicated name on the list.
It nearly made sense to consider him a buyout option. Tortorella benched him a few times and swapped him to the third line at LW, coveting Noah Cates at C because of his defensive capability. What kind of value did Hayes have? Replaced by a rookie, he has three years remaining on his contract at $7.14/AAV. Then, Hayes did something: he became an NHL All-Star in a role foreign to him.
Is there value in an NHL All-Star? Yes, especially one in the middle of a projected career-best campaign. Once Tortorella took the defensive responsibility off of Hayes, he uncorked on offense as an LW.
What complicates Hayes is that he could contribute to Philadelphia under Tortorella. He might not agree with some of the decisions Tortorella made, like the prior benchings. The adaptive mantra this season is ‘becoming a tougher team for having gone through it.’ Well, Tortorella and Hayes went through it.
“I’m never gonna’ say there’s a benefit to being benched. I’m sorry. I don’t think I should have been benched, but it’s not my decision. He’s a coach. I’m a player. He makes the lineup, he wants the best team on the ice to ultimately win, and that’s what he went with.”Kevin Hayes; 12/19/2022
Don’t expect Hayes to move ahead of the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, further complicated by a modified no-trade clause. He is a curious case requiring a little more time, and it could bleed into the offseason if a move is indeed in the works.
James van Riemsdyk
Here’s one that isn’t tough to navigate. A club heading into the postseason will want a powerplay threat like van Riemsdyk. His elite net-front presence draws value.
By the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, van Riemsdyk will move. He’s on an expiring contract where the Flyers likely retain around $3.5mil of his contract if van Riemsdyk is on the move.
Two teams in the bottom half of the powerplay rankings (outside of the Metropolitan Division) who make sense as destinations for van Riemsdyk are the Calgary Flames and the Seattle Kraken.
It’ll be a narrative that divides regarding the defenseman, but Provorov created sparks off the ice recently that might cause other GMs to pause at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline. On the ice, he’s improved his game in 2023.
Provorov eats shots on goal, an essential element to thriving under Tortorella. He’s the only defenseman in Philadelphia to surpass a hundred blocked shots on the season. All these things complement Provorov, but will he want a change of scenery?
Fletcher should prioritize Provorov as a trade asset at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, not only because of the return he would receive but because the Flyers’ defense ranks within the top ten most expensive, not including Ryan Ellis.
Egor Zamula is a prospect Tortorella spoke highly about. Emil Andrae hasn’t signed an entry-level contract with Philadelphia and seemingly has a bright future based on his previous IIHF 2022 World Juniors tournament performance. It might take a little leap of faith, but those players could land a role. That doesn’t include Ronnie Attard, who Mike O’Connell spoke highly of before 2022-2023.
Playing the best hockey of his career, Fletcher could receive the same return for Nick Seeler that Justin Braun did in 2021-2022 (a third-round pick.)
A playoff team lacking depth will be a fit for Seeler. He’s worked his way into a legitimate third-pair role or rotating seventh defenseman in the NHL.
Featuring Seeler in a package with van Riemsdyk to the Flames is a fit. Seeler could also swap for the aforementioned 2023 third-round pick with teams like the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers. The Kings own two 2023 third-round draft picks, making them a prime candidate to take on Seeler for defensive depth.
(Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)