Flyers trade rumors: Which deadline defenseman should they target?

USA TODAY Sports

There are a few of defenseman available at the deadline, but are any worth the price?

The NHL trade deadline is on Wednesday, and it wouldn't be an NHL trade deadline without the Flyers being heavily involved in rumors. While they'll surely be linked to a lot of names, it's clear that their biggest need is on the back end.

With that, let's take a quick glance at some of the most discussed defensemen as we approach the 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Some of the most discussed defenseman so far have been Andrew MacDonald, Alexander Edler, Christian Ehrhoff, Tom Gilbert, Ron Hainsey, Chris Phillips, Dustin Byfuglien, and Trevor Daley. Some of these names are flashier than others, and some would cost quite a bit more than others.

My intention is not to debate the potential cost to acquire them, but rather to take a look at what roles they play with their current teams and thus how they could help the Flyers.

In addition to their points, I looked at their Corsi-for percentage (to gauge how well they drive play forward), relative Corsi-for percentage (to account for poor team play), offensive zone start percentage (to see if they're playing more of an offensive or defensive role), and quality of competition (to gauge the opponents they frequently match up against).

These metrics help to give an idea as to how they are performing in potentially difficult or "sheltered" minutes. They help provide context around what the player is being asked to do for his team.

Player Team G A P CF% CF% NHL Rank (out of 197) CF% rel O/DSt% TotTm% QoC
Alex Edler Canucks 5 10 15 51.50% 62nd(tie) -1.00% 48.50% 28.90%
Christian Ehrhoff Sabres 6 23 29 46.50% 157th 4.10% 44.10% 28.90%
Andrew MacDonald Islanders 4 20 24 43.30% 185th -9.20% 46.60% 29.20%
Tom Gilbert Panthers 3 23 26 53.00% 39th 2.50% 49.50% 28.80%
Ron Hainsey Hurricanes 4 8 12 52.60% 48th(tie) 2.40% 50.40% 28.80%
Chris Phillips Senators 1 12 13 50.80% 83rd(tie) -1.90% 47.30% 28.20%
Dustin Byfuglien Jets 14 30 44 51.00% 77th(tie) 2.40% 49.80% 29.10%
Trevor Daley Stars 4 7 11 51.30% 70th(tie) 0.40% 50.10% 29.30%

A couple things jumped out to me right away.

Deployment basically the same across the board

First and foremost, all eight players appear to be playing defensive roles, so nobody is seeing sheltered minutes in that regard. All eight players are playing against similar competition (with Daley, MacDonald, and Byfuglien having the most difficult), and all eight players are around 50% or less on offensive zone starts (with Hainsey being the only one just barely over 50%). MacDonald and Ehrhoff stand out a bit as having the most heavily skewed zone starts however.

Ehrhoff stands out; MacDonald the weakling

With all eight players having similar roles with respect to zone starts and competition, we look to Corsi. MacDonald is the obvious loser in that regard, and is in fact one of the worst in the league. Edler, Gilbert, Hainsey, Phillips, Byfuglien and Daley all end up on the good side of 50%, indicating that they tend to generate more shots for than against, while on the ice. The only exception is Ehrhoff who plays on the dreadful Sabres. However, if you look at Ehrhoff's Corsi Relative, you can see his team actually performs 4.1% better when he is on the ice.

But what about the contracts?

As always in the NHL, you always have to consider contracts. Some of these guys are rentals, while others have significant term remaining on their deals.

Player Team(s) Age Remaining Years Cap Hit
Alexander Edler Canucks 27 5 $5.00
Christian Ehrhoff Sabres 31 7 $4.00
Andrew MacDonald Islanders 27 0 ???
Tom Gilbert Panthers 31 0 ???
Ron Hainsey Hurricanes 32 0 ???
Chris Phillips Senators 35 0 ???
Dustin Byfuglien Jets 28 2 $5.20
Trevor Daley Stars 30 3 $3.30

MacDonald, Gilbert, Hainsey, and Phillips are all impending unrestricted free agents. Some of their teams are attempting to re-sign them, but if they can't they may be available for trade.

Edler, Ehrhoff, Byfuglien, and Daley on the other hand, all have multiple years remaining. Edler was once a prized name among young blueliners but has fallen off a litte bit. He is still only 27 though. Ehrhoff would typically come with cap-recapture risks but the Sabres have actually already eaten all of those potential penalties, so there is no worry there any longer. Byfuglien is the biggest name of the bunch, and may cost the most in return. Daley is more of a stay-at-home guy.

Does a rental make sense?

When it comes down to it, the Flyers certainly need help on the blueline, but I'm not sure how much sense it makes to add a rental to a defense corps that already has eight bodies. Now if they could potentially add a longer term piece like Edler, Ehrhoff, or Byfuglien (I'd prefer to not add another stay-at-home guy like Daley) that would be a different story. This Flyers team has a bit of Jekyll and Hyde in it, so I'd hope any significant acquisitions would actually be made for beyond just this season.

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