As the drama slowly unfolds in Edmonton over the fate of their #1 pick Nail Yakupov, some Flyers fans have been salivating over the possibility of acquiring the young talent. This has only been further fueled by constant media speculation about a possible trade brewing between the Flyers and Oilers in the past few weeks. While Eklund is doing his best to keep the fire stoked, I'm here to tell you that a deal for Yakupov would be foolish on several levels.
- It would likely cost the Flyers multiple assets.
Number one overall picks won't come cheap, not matter how much Yak's current organization has soured on him. Edmonton is smart enough to sell high on a forward like Nail. He's young and under their exclusive control for several years. Don't expect yard sale prices for a potential star forward still in his early twenties. That sky high potential that makes him such an attractive trade prospect will also drive his price way way up. Overall, the Flyers just don't have enough depth to sacrifice at the NHL level.
- The Flyers long term needs aren't at forward.
A one way forward, however talented, doesn't fit with the Flyers organizational needs right now. We have plenty of offensive depth and the makings of an excellent shut down line centered by Couturier. Giroux and Voracek, for better or worse, are you're star offensive producers moving into the future. To top it off, Brayden Schenn is only 22, a top 5 pick, and still hopefully developing into an NHL contributor.
- REPEAT AFTER ME. The Flyers have GLARING long term needs on defense.
I don't think Flyers fans fully grasp how precariously balanced the Flyers defense is right now. Kimmo Timonen is your only reliable, and consistently successful puck moving defense man. At 38, he is holding down the Flyers top pairing and actually outplaying tough competition. In the last 3 seasons, there are no Flyers defensemen with better CorsiFor% and only a handful of forwards with better puck possession numbers. His career as a Flyer is nearing its end, and without Kimmo the defense simply doesn't have any elite talent to anchor it. If the front office does nothing to address this, Brayden Coburn will be the Flyers best defender next year. He's a solid Top 4 guy that can succeed against tough minutes but he cannot do it alone. Ostensibly, the Flyers have talented puck movers in Gustafsson and Streit. But Gus has struggled against average assignments and doesn't produce the consistently excellent results. Streit is 35 years old and doesn't come close to replicating Timonen's numbers. He's a second pairing defender at best and only has a handful of good years left in the tank. Luke Schenn might still have some promise, but he's a solid stay at home defender at best and won't replace Timonen's offensive contributions.
- What about the farm system?
Morin, Alt, Gostisbehere, and Haag are the Flyers best defensive prospects. All of them are several years away from making an impact on the NHL rosters. While there is some potential here, they remain unproven at the NHL level. There isn't the Seth Jones type, sure fire elite prospect waiting in the wings to take over for Kimmo.
While trading for Yakupov would undoubtedly be the big splash deal that the Flyers are known for, it doesn't address the organizations most prominent needs. Replacing Kimmo Timonen should be Paul Holmgrens first and foremost concern. If the Flyers do consider moving young, valuable assets in a trade they should be targeting defenders with elite puck moving potential. Sure, Yakupov would be exciting to see in the Flyers top line for years to come, but none of that will lead to a championship if the defense sucks. And make no mistake, this defense is poised to suck in the coming years. Holmgren has put himself in a tough spot, and I think its likely we'll see some moves in the next year or so. But I'd be absolutely shocked if the Flyers are targeting offensive forwards. And I'd be concerned that Holmgren doesn't have the long term interests of the hockey club in mind.