Flyers trade Walker to Avalanche for 2025 first-round pick

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Flyers' Sean Walker
Philadelphia Flyers right wing Owen Tippett, right, celebrates his goal with defenseman Sean Walker during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

A lot of interest was piqued along the Philadelphia Flyers‘ (32-23-8) blue line. Teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs seemed like prime candidates to swoop in on either Nick Seeler or Sean Walker. At a time, both seemed like they were going to be traded as a pair.

Daniel Briere was in touch with Seeler and Walker regarding potential contract extensions. Officially, neither was extended before the first domino dropped. Growing reports suggest the Flyers are negotiating and closing on a contract extension with Seeler. However, he must continue his 2023-2024 campaign without Walker.

Philadelphia traded Walker with a 2026 fifth-round draft pick to the Colorado Avalanche for a 2025 first-round draft pick and Ryan Johansen. Immediately, Johansen went on waivers.

In the timeline that led to this decision, Briere said the Flyers weren’t looking to make trades for the sake of it. If the return makes sense, then the two sides will agree. Briere helped flip what Philadelphia understood as a questionable defenseman for a 2025 first-round draft pick, adding to the highly coveted assets in the short term. By placing Johansen on waivers, the hope might be that a team bites to reopen another contract space.

“We’re not going to make trades just to make trades. If there’s something that makes sense; that we feel makes us better for the future, we’ll strongly consider it. The one thing I won’t be doing is, I won’t be trading prime assets just to make a run.”

Daniel Briere; 1/24/2024

Walker is a defenseman with a right-handed shot, which almost gives him immediate value, but is his rebound in the NHL, after an injury-riddled run with the Los Angeles Kings, dependent on Seeler?

Walker: 2023-2024

On the Flyers, Walker is one of the better overall defensemen. He was a second-pair defender with Seeler, who could play on the top-pair. If Philadelphia decided to extend Walker instead of trading him, a potential contract extension would’ve hovered at around $5mil for almost a handful of seasons. A term close to this was likely wanted, but no agreement was had.

John Tortorella dressed Walker in all 63 games to date. En route to his best NHL season, Walker has 22 points (6G, 16A) and averages 19:36 on the ice. Tortorella trusted Walker in his lineup, and with Seeler, he contributed to the first penalty-killing unit on the top penalty kill in the league.

The Avalanche sits in a similar situation as the Flyers, third place in the NHL Central Division, staring a postseason push in the face. Walker is going to Colorado, primed for a different flavor postseason push with a change of scenery.

Verdict

Briere stuck to his guns. The ask was always for a first-round pick if Walker was going anywhere. He didn’t cave, and Briere stood tall as a potent general manager.

Scott Laughton is another player where the ask is a first-round pick. Seeler had noise surrounding his name before he hit the injured-reserved list. They’re all savvy penalty killers. Reading the room for a moment tells you that Briere should sell high, can sell high, and is not in any rush to accept anything less than the price on the board.

It will be too early to declare who won this trade. It does seem fair for both parties, but in the immediate turnaround, Philadelphia continues to show they’re rebuilding; they’re not sacrificing a push for the postseason.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)