February 24, 2018
The Flyers are red hot, and, with their potential playoff seeding looking better by the day, the 2018 NHL trade deadline could be an interesting one for general manager Ron Hextall.
After a few years of quiet deadlines to start his tenure, a recent rash of goaltender injuries forced Hextall into making a deal, which he did by acquiring Petr Mrazek from the Red Wings for two conditional draft picks. And with the Flyers winning again on Saturday, beating the reeling Senators, 5-3, in Ottawa, Hextall might not be done making moves just yet.
The victory over the Sens temporarily moved the Flyers (33-19-10, 76 points) into a tie with the Penguins for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, so Hextall almost certainly won't be selling. If anything, he'll be trying to bolster his current roster as he prepares the team for a playoff run.
Just a few short months ago, that's something almost no one was expecting. On December 3, coming off a 10-game losing streak, the Flyers were dead last in their division and tied for the fourth fewest points in the entire NHL. Now, not only have they gone from worst to first in the Metropolitan, but they also have the seventh most points in the league.
With just 48 hours until the trade deadline, things might just get interesting. Or perhaps the recent surge from the Flyers – they've recorded at least a point in 20 of their last 25 games (18-5-2) – has Hextall feeling more confident that his team, the hottest in the NHL, can make a playoff run without adding any other big-name free agents.
That won't stop us from speculating in today's NHL trade deadline edition of What They're Saying...
This time of year, NHL players can find themselves worrying about their futures with their current teams. That won't be the case for the Flyers, and after turning their season around and climbing their way into playoff position, that feels well-deserved.
Because the Flyers are sitting pretty in a playoff spot and are now in a race for first place in the Metropolitan Division, the whole team is enjoying the deadline rather than fearing it.
“It feels pretty good,” Jake Voracek said. “First time in a while you don’t get worried about who’s gonna be traded. I guess we’re not selling this year. It’s a pretty good sign.”
Twitter has run more amok than usual with hearsay and speculation ahead of Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. If anything, the Flyers will be buyers. Players in Philly can scroll through their social media timelines without much panic. [courierpostonline.com]
Things in Ottawa aren't going quite as well.
Speculation that the Ottawa Senators are poised to move superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson before Monday’s trade deadline has reached a fever pitch, with other veterans who led the team to the Eastern Conference final last spring also likely playing their last game before an unpopular rebuild prompted by a disappointing record and lower than desired attendance numbers.
The house cleaning started when the Senators dealt defenseman Dion Phaneuf to the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 1, and continued Friday when they sent center Derick Brassard to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Senators (21-29-10) are admittedly feeling the effects of what defensemen Mark Borowiecki called “trade purgatory” after Thursday’s 4-3 home loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“We’re a little anxious right now, I’m not going to lie,” Borowiecki told The Ottawa Sun after the game. “You could kind of feel it tonight a little bit too, reflective in our play. There’s just many rumors about so many guys … do your best to tune it out, but at some point, you’re not just going to ignore it.” [foxsports.com]
That speculation in Ottawa isn't going to get any better after their most recent loss to the Flyers, who are reportedly one of the teams interested in Sens defenseman Erik Karlsson.
That's right, the Flyers are one of the teams rumored to be interested in Karlsson, at least according to TheFourthPeriod.com. They also have Karlsson listed as their top available free agent.
1. Erik Karlsson, D / Ottawa Senators
AGE: 27 | CAP HIT: $6.5M
Whoa, nelly. It's gotten to this point in Ottawa. Karlsson takes over the No.1 slot, but we caution a trade by the deadline seems unlikely - but not impossible. The Sens are taking calls, but the return will have to be huge.
TEAMS BELIEVED TO HAVE INTEREST: Tampa, Vegas, Philly, Nashville, Florida, San Jose [thefourthperiod.com]
He's not the only player they have linked to the Flyers:
5. Patrick Maroon, LW / Edmonton Oilers ...
11. Mark Letestu, C / Edmonton Oilers ...
19. Joel Ward, RW / San Jose Sharks ...
29. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D / Arizona Coyotes
So what might a Karlsson trade look like? And would Hextall be willing to pay it just because his team is performing better than expected?
If the Senators want to set up their franchise for the future, who better to trade with than the team with the deepest prospect pool. While the roster player may be of lesser quality, as I wouldn’t expect Hextall to trade any of their stars or rookies, they can offer a higher quality and quantity of prospects.
The trade would center around at least one of the Flyers’ first round picks in the 2018 draft, and at least two top prospects, including both a forward and a defenseman...
Now, back to reality.
The Flyers are in a great position to succeed in this season and beyond. They are a playoff team with aspirations for more. Trading for Karlsson could put them over the top, but it could also salvage too much of the future if Hextall isn’t careful. I don’t think he’ll make the big splash, but I could see why some want him to and why he himself might even be thinking about it. [sonsofpenn.com]
Before the Flyers acquired Mrazek, it was reported there might be something in the works for one of the Sabres two goalies. That ultimately didn't happen, but the same reporter, TSN's Elliotte Friedman, recently mentioned the two teams have continued to scout one another.
Maybe there's a chance they were talking about someone else, like forward Sam Reinhart? They have an in-depth breakdown of the convo between Friedman and Jeff Marek on the 31 Thoughts Podcast and more on Reinhart and what he might cost. Here's a brief summary, but go check out the whole thing.
• The Flyers and Sabres have apparently been scouting each other and have at least been talking about a deal of some sort. It is at least possible that that deal could feature the Flyers dealing a young defenseman for Buffalo forward Sam Reinhart.
• Reinhart’s a pretty solid young forward who has stagnated a bit in Buffalo this season but would be a welcome addition to any team. Buffalo has a lot of good young forwards that may be pushing Reinhart out of the team’s long-term core, and they have nothing at all in the way of good young defensemen. The Flyers have those, which is why a deal may be there to be made.
• This is probably not going to happen, but it’s fun to wonder, isn’t it? [broadstreethockey.com]
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