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June 20, 2023

Three mock trades Flyers should consider for their rebuild

From Hart to the Sharks, Konecny to the Red Wings, and a deal with...the Penguins? Here are three mock trades that could benefit the Flyers' rebuild.

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Carter-Hart-Flyers-Stars-April-2023-NHL.jpg Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

How much longer will Carter Hart be a Flyer?

It's essentially trade season across the sports world, with MLB's trade deadline fast approaching on August 1, the NBA and NHL offseasons in full swing, and the NFL heading into training camp.

All four local teams could be making splashy (or marginal) moves over the next few weeks, so here at PhillyVoice we went into armchair GM mode ourselves. We came up with three trades we think each of the Phillies, Flyers, Eagles, and Sixers should strongly consider making over the next few weeks.

One of them — admittedly — for each team will be a bit of a big swing. The other two we'll keep in the realistic category.

Today, we'll lay out scenarios for the Flyers and future-forward moves for the rebuild:

Scenario 1: Hart to the Sharks

The Flyers get: The No. 4 overall pick (to take C Will Smith) and a 2023 fifth-round pick.

San Jose gets: G Carter Hart, the No. 7 overall pick, and a 2023 third-round pick (via Florida).

So here's the big swing, so to speak, on the presumption that Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, and Leo Carlsson go 1-2-3 at the top of the draft. 

Still sitting there on the board would be Will Smith, a top center prospect coming out of the U.S. National Development Program and NHL Central Scouting's third-ranked North American skater behind only Bedard and Fantilli. With incredible puckhandling and excellent vision of the ice, he exhibits the kind of top-end talent and star potential the Flyers are going to be in major need of going forward. 

The problem is, he'll be available at 4 when the San Jose Sharks have their pick, but he will not still be around at 7 once it's the Flyers' turn. 

So that's why we call Mike Grier offering a pick swap and Carter Hart (and the exchange of some other picks to get a potential deal across the finish line), running off the thought Jeff Marek threw out there on the 32 Thoughts podcast a couple of weeks ago of whether San Jose would be a fit in the trade market for the 24-year old goalie. 

Now, the Sharks are in a rebuild themselves, but they're also incredibly thin at goaltender right now and could benefit from addressing that need sooner rather than later. Hart, as one of the higher-end starters in the league right now and still just 24 years old, would not only address that problem immediately but would also fit into the Sharks' long-term picture if they can get him under contract.

Plus, San Jose has a ton of picks to work with to make something happen, including another first-rounder later on thanks to the Timo Meier trade with New Jersey at the deadline. 

So in all, the Sharks get a starting goalie and keep a top-10 pick, while the Flyers jump up a few spots to draft maybe their next (aptly named for Philadelphia) star and open up a chance for Samuel Ersson to show what he's really made of as a goaltender. 

How about it?

Scenario 2: Konecny to the Red Wings

The Flyers get: The No. 17 overall pick and a 2023 second-round pick. 

Detroit gets: RW Travis Konecny and a 2023 sixth-rounder (via Ottawa). 

This one would be dependent on whether Steve Yzerman thinks his Red Wings will be truly ready to compete within the next two years. 

They made progress this past season but didn't quite put it all together yet. They may not be much further off though, and adding an established and fiery winger in Travis Konecny to their top-six, as he's entering his prime, could be that last piece they need to take that next step. 

But at a cost. 

Like the Sharks, the Red Wings are also working with a ton of picks, including two first-rounders and three seconds this year. And for a 30-goal scorer on a relatively reasonable $5.5 million cap hit over the next two years, the lesser of those firsts (No. 17 overall) and one of those three seconds should be a fair asking price if it really is go-time for Detroit – maybe with a late-round pick from the Flyers thrown in as a final touch. 

Scenario 3: Hayes to the Penguins

The Flyers get: A 2023 fifth-rounder and a 2024 third-rounder. 

Pittsburgh gets: C Kevin Hayes with 30 percent of his remaining salary retained by the Flyers.

Actually, this one might be the big swing since it requires making a deal with the Penguins. But here's the thing: Kevin Hayes and the Flyers, one way or another, both have to move on and the Penguins' own unique situation might make them the best trade partner to help facilitate that. 

Wise or not, the Penguins are committed to Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, and Evgeni Malkin until all three hang them up, and so long as they're all on the roster, Pittsburgh's mission is always going to be to win now, and to do that, they need depth wherever they can find it. 

Hayes is in his 30s now, his cap hit at $7.1 million over the next three years is steep, and yeah, his role on the Flyers completely diminished. But he did still put up a career-best 54 points last season, and hopefully that's the big sticking point for Kyle Dubas in this scenario, especially if there's a belief that Hayes might be able to produce more within a steadier role and it comes with the bonus of the Flyers paying enough to bring his cap hit to under $5 million. 

As of Monday, the Penguins have a projected $20.2 million in cap space, which would allow them to comfortably take something like this on, though they do have a handful of pending free agents to make decisions on also.

As for the return, I wouldn't get too hung up on that here. 

Again, this move is so that Hayes and the Flyers can both move on. The Penguins don't have much in the way of draft capital or prospects right now anyway, so if you can swing a mid-late round pick or two out of this, that's a win in its own right. 

Note: I originally had the Blue Jackets taking Hayes here as they've been rumored for a while, but their recent sign and trade with the Devils for defenseman Damon Severson – on top of the earlier trade for Ivan Provorov – may have tied up too much cap space on Columbus' end to make a deal work, as Anthony Di Marco of the Fourth Period noted.

Additionally, Colorado might've been a fit since Gabriel Landeskog won't play at all this coming season, but the Avalanche are also thin on picks and prospects, have a number of pending UFAs to manage, and also have to account for Landeskog's placement on long-term injured reserve.

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