Flyers’ Valentine’s Day Trade Mill

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Flyers' James van Riemsdyk
Flyers’ James van Riemsdyk (Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)

The picture regains clarity as time inches toward the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.

At the start of a rebuild, there are many parallel moves the Philadelphia Flyers could make as they acquire trade capital. We all expect Chuck Fletcher to be active at the deadline, selling different depth players and taking the best offer for James van Riemsdyk. Kevin Hayes also receives interest in a few markets. Justin Braun, Nick Seeler, and Patrick Brown are a few more names likely shuffled by the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.

Where could they land? What might the Flyers gain in return? Here’s the latest on the Valentine’s Day mill.

Defensive Depth

Whichever team is interested in Seeler likely shares a mutual interest in Braun. Both players can help a penalty kill on a cheap contract or play third-pair minutes.

One team to never count out of a trade handled by Fletcher are the Minnesota Wild.

They seem like a team who could be interested in Seeler and Braun, but the Seattle Kraken makes more sense. They’re ranked 31st on the penalty kill and 17th in overall defense. Braun is a veteran defenseman and Seeler’s at his best in 2022-2023.

Braun won’t command the same return he did from the New York Rangers in 2022. He could be worth the 2023 fourth-round pick from the Kraken. The Wild, in comparison, won’t be as quick to give up a 2023 NHL Entry Draft pick. A return from Minnesota could be a 2024 fourth-round pick instead.

The Flyers likely want to hold onto Seeler. It sounds like a team will have to overpay. That could mean receiving the same haul Braun attracted in 2022. A 2023 third-round pick isn’t out of the realm of a team like Seattle. They have multiple second-round picks to supplement the loss of a 2023 third, and it’ll take an offer like that to pull Seeler away from Philadelphia.

Offensive Depth

Another player who could help the penalty kill is Brown. He gets pucks deep into the offensive zone in man-down situations, killing time relatively often. Aside from that, he’ll be a borderline AHL forward if he isn’t on an NHL fourth line or carried as a thirteenth forward.

The Kraken fit the bill again. So do other teams with awful penalty-killing units, like the Vancouver Canucks, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, and Anaheim Ducks. Brown will be a cheap addition to those special teams if necessary.

A 2023 sixth-round pick is imaginable. Anything better, and Fletcher is profiting.

James van Riemsdyk

The player receiving the most interest from teams across the NHL is van Riemsdyk. If the Flyers retain half his salary, another franchise will receive a $3.5mil scorer among the elite when net-front on the powerplay. A master deflector of shots on goal, teams needing a boost on the man advantage as they enter the postseason will seriously inquire.

Trading for more draft capital is the best plan at the beginning of a rebuild. The return will depend on how much of the salary Philadelphia retains. A 2023 third-round pick makes sense if the Flyers aren’t retaining salary, but Fletcher might be able to gain an additional third-round pick in 2024 if he retains $3.5mil.

The Winnipeg Jets are a match. So is the Wild.

Both those clubs can take on van Riemsdyk if Philadelphia retains $3.5mil. The Jets offer the better return, with a third-round pick in 2023 and 2024. Minnesota doesn’t have a 2023 third-round pick, which Fletcher could leverage into a 2024 second and third package.

Those aren’t the only two teams interested in van Riemsdyk. Others include the New Jersey Devils, Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars, Seattle Kraken, Washington Capitals, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Vegas Golden Knights.

Kevin Hayes

Possible destinations for Hayes could be Winnipeg or the Carolina Hurricanes. Both can afford him if the Flyers retain $3.571mil. The question becomes, ‘what will Philadelphia get for retaining the $3.571mil?’

The Hurricanes are in the best position to acquire Hayes considering the draft capital they could spend. They have a 2023 second and the Flyers’ 2023 third-round pick to consider dealing. Fletcher has more leverage against Carolina, too. Hayes would be an upgrade over Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

Hayes is as likely to remain in Philadelphia for an off-season deal. A modified no-trade clause is in place, giving Hayes some control. It’ll be interesting to see how much steam Hayes gains or loses in trade rumor mills because John Tortorella spent a lot of energy testing Hayes. When Tortorella presses his players, he believes the player is valuable but not delivering. That sums up his relationship with Hayes in 2022-2023.

(Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)