P.K. Subban is possibly the best (and likely only) option the Flyers have to upgrade their blue line at this point. He’s a Top-2 pairing defenseman, and he embodies the Flyers attitude in a way that few players can: he scores, he quarterbacks the powerplay, he kills penalties, he plays big minutes, and then he gets under your skin about all of it. The guy was born to wear orange and black. Unfortunately, the likelihood of the Flyers acquiring P.K. is really unlikely. If we signed him to an offer sheet (which could have already been presented and declined by Subban), the Habs would likely match it immediately.
Sure, we could drive up the price for Montreal to re-sign one of its best players, but in the end the Flyers would still be standing their with their thumbs up their asses, similar to the situation after the Shea Weber fiasco. Ultimately, the team has a group of defensemen that are either aging (Timonen), unable to handle top-pairing minutes (Schenn, Grossmann), or coming off injury (Lilja, Meszaros). Kurtis Foster isn’t the answer for this defensive unit, and while Brayden Coburn may be better than most people give him credit for, he’s not exactly the best puck mover nor a great powerplay quarterback. Acquiring Subban would solve these issues by infusing the defensive core with youth, skill, and the ability to keep players like Schenn, Grossmann, and Meszaros on the ice for too long.
If the Flyers sign P.K. to an offer sheet (and, for hypothetical purposes, Montreal declines to match), the Flyers would lose their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks in the upcoming draft. I don’t know about you, but I would be willing to part with those draft picks to shore up the defensive unit for the better part of the next decade. Paul Holmgren already proved he agrees with that thought process, as well, when he traded for Chris Pronger and attempted to sign Shea Weber.
Acquiring Subban would not only make the Flyers a better team (which, at 0-3, clearly needs to happen), but would also weaken an Eastern Conference foe in the process. With a shortened schedule that revolves around solely around playing teams in the same conference, taking a team you play twice this season down a peg would mean a lot.
Now, if the Flyers sign Subban to an offer sheet and need to work out a trade with Montreal to make it happen, I can realistically see it going down a couple of ways. One way is that the Flyers throw Montreal the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks, as well as a prospect or two like Nick Cousins, Marcel Noebels, or Tye McGinn. Another scenario involves a much more highly regarded player (see: Couturier, Sean) along with a couple of high draft picks. Cooter has ties to French Canada, which the Habs put high priority on, and could help boost the loss of Subban with the defensive prowess that Couturier has shown thus far in his short career. I doubt Holmgren would ever want to include Cooter in the trade, as he has told teams before that the young center is “untouchable”. However, given the current state of the team, who knows?
At this point, however, a team whose fan base forgave the lockout may not be so forgiving when it comes to the team failing. The Flyers currently look like shit, and although it’s only been three games and they are still without Danny Briere, I can’t help but think that the defense may be something that needs to be worked on, even if it means sacrificing an asset you think may benefit the team down the road. Paul Holmgren has shown us before that he is willing to whip it out, throw it on the table, and measure right along side any other GM in the league, but right now he needs to take a close look at what it might take to bring Subban to Philly.