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February 23, 2020

NHL trade rumors: Who might Flyers target ahead of deadline?

With just over 24 hours remaining before Monday's NHL trade deadline, Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers have a decision to make — one that's been made easier by a red-hot February that's seen Philly climb from the outside of the playoff picture looking in to just three points behind the Capitals and Penguins for the Metropolitan Division lead. 

As the Flyers continue to distance themselves from the wild card teams and inch closer to a potential — and surprising — division title, one thing has become clear. This team is a deadline buyer.

What remains to be seen now is whether or not Fletcher and Co. will go all-in ahead of the trade deadline or if they'll continue to take the cautious approach and protect their future rather than sell the farm (or picks) to better their chances at a deep playoff run this season. Given that they haven't been out of the first round in the better part of a decade, they might be more hungry than most. 

So what will Fletcher will be willing to give up? And, more importantly, which players will that allow him to go after? According to Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Flyers should avoid trying to acquire a top talent like Chris Kreider, Jean-Gabriel Pageau or Mike Hoffman. Instead, he thinks the addition of a depth forward could be enough for Philly.

There’s no guarantee one of those players would help deliver the Flyers their first Stanley Cup since 1975 — back when gas was 57 cents a gallon and All in the Family topped the TV ratings. It’s not worth it to give up assets (read: Shayne Gostisbehere and high draft picks) for a rental.

The Flyers have a very good blend of young, on-the-rise players and quality veterans. They should stay the course and add a depth forward who won’t cost them a quality prospect or a high draft pick. That player (Derek Grant? Ryan Donato?) would be insurance in case of an injury, or perhaps bolster one of their lower lines.  []

One reason the Flyers could be hesitant to make a splash is because they believe they'll get a boost at forward when Nolan Patrick eventually returns from injury, although that's far from a given at this point. The addition of Patrick would almost act like a deadline acquisition given that he's been sidelined all season. However, Fletcher has previously said that the Flyers will make their deadline decisions independent of the former No. 2 overall pick's health.

One option for the Flyers that would give them depth at forward and add another veteran player — one with quite a bit of Stanley Cup experience — to their roster is Jeff Carter, the former Flyer who was originally traded to Columbus on deadline day back in 2011 before winding up in LA. Here's more from Carchidi on how Philly could make a deal for Carter work despite their limited cap resources

Carter, who has a $5.27 cap hit and is in his ninth season with Los Angeles, has been mentioned as a trade candidate. He can play center or wing and could help the power play. But it would be difficult for the Flyers to fit him under the cap, even if the Kings were to absorb half of his cap hit, the maximum allowed. If L.A. paid half of it, the Flyers would be responsible for about $2.635 million annually until the contract expires after the 2021-22 season.

The Flyers are expected to have about $2 million in cap room at the trade deadline. If they could somehow fit Carter under the cap and get him at a reasonable price — say, a third-round draft pick — he would improve a team that could use a sniper. Now 35, Carter enters the weekend with 17 goals this season and 382 in a career that started with the Flyers in 2005. He is day to day with an undisclosed injury.  []

Of course, there are younger options as well. 

Over at NBC Sports Philadelphia, Jordan Hall took a close look at Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen. A first-round pick in 2014, Kapanen, 23, has 12 goals and 21 assists this season and plays on the penalty kill unit in Toronto. Hall, who believes Kapanen would give the Flyers the depth and scoring they're looking for, thinks the two teams could have interest given both sides' needs at the deadline — and, more importantly for Philly, Kapanen is under contract for the next two seasons as well.

Why is he a trade candidate? Because the Maple Leafs are an offensively talented team in need of help on defense as it permits the NHL's sixth-most goals per game.

Kapanen has a profile trade suitors should like — he's young and reasonably under contract for the next two seasons. Therefore, Toronto could capitalize on the value and look to fill a glaring hole by shedding from its surplus of forwards.

Everyone knows the Flyers have a nice stock of defensemen, from the big club to down on the farm. Would they be willing to part ways with a blueliner and maybe a draft pick to add a promising non-rental to their future at forward?

Both parties have what it takes to intrigue the other.  []

So, will Fletcher make a move? Or has his team's red-hot play convinced him that they're good enough already? We have just over a day left before we get the answers. In the meantime, we've got you covered with all the latest trade deadline news and rumors from around the NHL.

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