Although Saturday's win against the Oilers was an outstanding performance for the Flyers, it remains to be seen if they can sustain that high level of play against better competition. Its still early in the season and this team has plenty of time to turn things around. But, lets take a look at the hypothetical future where this season continues to trend in the wrong direction and the Flyers end up being sellers at the trade deadline. Paul Holmgren is often criticized by the fanbase for the types of contracts he gives players, and for good reason. There are several aging Flyers players who would be high value pieces at the deadline, if not for their obscene contracts.
Age: 38 years old.
Contract: 6 million, 1 year left, No Movement Clause.
While Kimmo's production is down, his underlying possession stats are really good. At his age he is taking top pairing minutes against tough competition and still pushing the play forward. I think its clear that Timonen has lost a step or two, but he'd be a perfect fit for a playoff team with holes on defense. The ideal situation for Kimmo would probably be 2nd pairing minutes against mid-range competition. I don't think his lack of production so far is going to hamper his value that much. We know that there are at least a few NHL organizations who value Corsi and other advanced stats. Its likely that Kimmo will be viewed as a good player stuck on a bad team. With his contract expiring, his age isn't a long term risk. However, his salary is going to severely limit the number of teams who can swing a deal. As of this moment, only 6 or 7 NHL teams have the cap space to acquire Timonen out right. And less than half of those teams are legitimate contenders. To move Kimmo, Holmgren will need to either retain a sizable chunk of salary or take a bad contract in return. On top of that, the no movement clause allows Timonen to control his own destiny and approve any trade that might take place. It won't be impossible to move him, but Homer could have made his life a lot easier by paying Kimmo like the aging defender he is and not like a stud player in his prime.
Age: 31 years old.
Contract: 4.75 million, 6 years left. No Movement Clause
Scott Hartnell is an aging power forward with only a limited number of productive years left. He has proven he can still produce in the right situation and he's a strong puck possession player. Normally, Hartnell would be a perfect piece to deal at the deadline and get a substantial return. But his massive 6 year deal complete with a no movement clause is going to depress the value of any trade return. Like Kimmo, only a handful of playoff contenders can afford to add Scott's salary outright. The 6 years left on the deal makes acquiring him a long term risk and he can control which teams Homer can negotiate with. All of these factors will offset the normally inflated value of players at the deadline. Homer would definitely need to take contracts and salary in return and isn't going to get as much in terms of picks/prospects. I don't see any teams giving up a high draft pick for that contract.
3. Vinny Lecavalier
Age: 33 years old
Contract: 4.5 million, 5 years left, No Movement Clause
Vinny has been the Flyers most productive forward points wise so far this year. But he's another aging star whose best years are behind him. If the Flyers are mired in the suck in a few months, Vinny still has enough left in the tank to garner some value at the deadline. He's a bit of a long term risk, but the contract isn't as bad as Hartnell's.To market Vinny to as many contenders as possible, Homer would have to consider taking on some salary. Next to Timonen he's probably the most likely out this group to get moved for a decent return
4. Mark Streit
Age: 35 years old
Contract: 5.25 million, 4 years left.
Streit is basically unmovable with that contract. He's a 35+ age player, so if he's hurt or retires teams will be on the hook for that salary cap. To top it off, very few teams could afford to take that cap hit on and even consider taking the risk. A lot of people praised this off-season signing because it filled a huge need for another puck mover on the back end and I would probably agree with them. But that contract makes it impossible to extract any trade value out this free agent signing.
Contract: 4 million, 1 year left
Meszaros' value is so low at this point that I doubt the Flyers will get anyone to trade for him him, deadline or not. Andej is an injury risk, and perpetually scratched even when he is healthy. Teams might have been willing to take a small risk on Mez if his cap hit was smaller. But as it stands, any team that wants to try turn him into a viable defender can simply wait until the Flyers let him walk at the end of the year. A mediocre player on an atrocious contract.
The Bright Side:
The Flyers actually do have some decent value pieces that would be easy to move at the deadline if they so choose.
Matt Read, Steve Downie, Adam Hall, Ray Emery, and Hal Gill are all on semi-reasonable contracts. Read is the only player of this group on an extended deal, but his cap hit this season is well under his real value. And he's young enough to mitigate the risk of his contract extension. Gill and Hall won't fetch much in return. Downie and Emery however would be high value assets the Flyers could easily flip to contenders. Emery isn't worth much in the current market, but as the deadline approaches, he'll be an extremely low risk option for teams with injuries at the goal tending position.
So what does this all mean?:
A big sell-off at the deadline is unlikely. Homer is going to struggle to move a lot of these contracts for fair value. If you were expecting a big return for some of the Flyers aging players, I would temper some of those expectations. The Flyers aren't in a strong position to start a rebuild, and I'd expect more moves during the draft than at the deadline. About the only notable roster player who has a easily tradeable contract is Matt Read. While Homer could definitely get fair value for a player like Read, I'm not so sure he's the type of player that should be getting dealt. He's still young and could contribute to the team well into the future. A little more foresight from Homer when negotiating deals with older players could have gone a long way to positioning the Flyers for a better sell-off.