The trade deadline is six weeks away and speculation is running rampant as to who’s available, who’s selling and who’s buying. And believe me, there will be sellers and there will be buyers at this year’s deadline.
Among the sellers? The Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers are eighth in the Metropolitan Division and this season is pretty much in the can. They’ve become known for their goalie merry-go-round. On January, they became just the fourth team in NHL history to use seven goalies in a season. The most recent team to do so was the 2007-2008 edition of the Los Angeles Kings.
The difference with the Flyers is that it took them just half the season to hit the mark.
Of course, injuries have been to blame. Just yesterday, Philadelphia put Michal Neuvirth back on the IR. He hasn’t played since January 3 and has missed a combined 22 games this season due to injury, with his record an ugly 1-4-1.
Does this mean the Flyers are looking for goaltending? Probably. They want some stability in goal, obviously, and a lot of that has to do with giving Carter Hart the chance to develop into a proper starter. The netminder has received a lot of starts lately, more than Philly wants to give, and that could mean they’ll look to land a netminder that can stay off the IR.
The Flyers have a pile of UFAs set to hit the market, including Wayne Simmonds, the arrested and scratched Jori Lehtera, Michael Raffl, Brian Elliott, and the aforementioned Neuvirth.
Of the most interest is Simmonds, who could fetch a strong return for the transforming Flyers.
It’s no secret that Philadelphia is looking to trade him and there’s interest aplenty, as his contract is easy to handle. At just $3.975 million, there are many squads that can put him under the cap without much hassle.
Simmonds has 19 points in 45 games this season, but he’s capable of so much more. He’s a power play booster, a fast skater, a net crowder. His presence will improve any team in the running and could be just the thing to reinforce a club on the bubble.
Among the possible destinations is Colorado, where the Avalanche are taking advantage of a weak division to flounder a little. They’ll still make the post-season, but it’s no secret that they could use secondary scoring. Their top line won’t get it done forever, which is where a guy like Simmonds comes into the picture.
Nashville is another nice fit, while some people like the idea of seeing the dude in a Maple Leafs sweater. The latter has cropped up some interesting trade conversations on social media, the most interesting of which has Toronto flipping William Nylander over to Philly for Simmonds. Of course, Kyle Dubas said he wasn’t going to trade Nylander.
Raffl is another possible trade piece, but his disappointing play has dropped his value considerably. He has just two goals this season and hasn’t been shooting the puck much. It’s possible Raffl could get packaged up somewhere, but he won’t fetch much. He did push out 13 goals last season and scored 21 goals in 2014-2015, however.
As for Neuvirth, the Flyers were in this exact same position in 2017 and they signed him for two years in March of that year. Two-year deals seem to be the goalie’s specialty, so there could be something similar on the table if a trade can’t happen. But it is believed that Neuvirth will at least be part of the trade conversation come February’s end.
And in Elliott’s case, conventional wisdom suggests a short-term deal for him to serve as backup for Hart. With Elliott due to return from injury at the end of the month, the Flyers will have a chance to road test that arrangement. But if the right deal comes along, anything could happen.