Flyers trade rumors: How about a 'change of scenery' defenseman?

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

In 2007 the Flyers struck gold when they bought low on Braydon Coburn by shipping off Alexei Zhitnik. Could there be another young blueliner that might need a new organization and a change of scenery?

On Monday, we took a look at some of the more popular defensemen available as we approach the deadline. Today, I want to take a slightly different approach.

In 2007 the Flyers struck gold when they bought low on Braydon Coburn, shipping off Alexei Zhitnik. While some fans admiration of Coburn is greater than others it's pretty tough to debate that the guy has been a rock-solid top-four defenseman since he was acquired. After struggling a bit last year, he is having a rebound season.

In the NHL, the "No. 1 defenseman" is the rarest of players, and the true "franchise defensemen" are few and far between. Because of that, when a team has one they rarely ever let them go. So perhaps the thinking should change from attempting to acquire that No. 1 defenseman, to acquiring someone who could possibly, just maybe, probably not but we can hope he will, grow into that No. 1 defenseman.

Let's turn our gaze towards young, highly-drafted blueliners who are rumored to be available, struggling, need a change of scenery, or perhaps even all of the above. With that, there are five interesting names to consider.

Player Pos. Team(s) Currently Age Drafted Games Goals Assists Points
David Rundblad D Coyotes AHL 23 2009 - 17th overall 50 1 8 9
Jake Gardiner D Maple Leafs NHL 23 2008 - 17th overall 147 12 39 51
Adam Larsson D Devils AHL 21 2011 - 4th overall 122 3 24 27
Tyler Myers D Sabres NHL 24 2008 - 12th overall 311 40 96 136
Dmitry Kulikov D Panthers NHL 23 2009 - 14th overall 292 22 71 93

All five of these players are either already amid trade rumors, or their struggles have been well documented which might mean they could be had in a trade.

Just like in Monday's story, 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).

Player Pos. Team(s) CF% CF% rel O/DSt% TotTm% QoC
David Rundblad D Coyotes 55.00% 4.90% 54.80% 27.90%
Jake Gardiner D Maple Leafs 46.20% 4.00% 42.60% 27.70%
Adam Larsson D Devils 54.50% 2.30% 60.40% 28.60%
Tyler Myers D Sabres 45.20% 1.90% 41.60% 28.90%
Dmitry Kulikov D Panthers 52.50% 1.30% 48.30% 28.70%
All help their teams

The deployment is a bit all over the map, with someone like Myers that has some pretty heavily skewed zone starts against tough competition, compared to Larsson who was seeing over 60 percent offensive zone starts this year. However, all five players have some respectable relative Corsi numbers indicating their teams perform better when they are on the ice.

Buy low

There is quite the discrepancy between someone like Tyler Myers who has over 300 NHL games at this point with a major role on a terrible team, and David Rundblad who can't even seem to crack an NHL roster to date. The price to acquire them will surely vary but the intent is the same; buy low on a talented player. It will almost certainly be cheaper than trading for established names like Alexander Edler, Dustin Byfuglien, or Christian Ehrhoff.

Names like Chris Pronger and Shea Weber will always be desired by Flyers fans, especially around the trade deadline, but it's almost never realistic. We'd be better off trying to find the next Coburn, who was just turning 22 and needed a change of scenery when the Flyers acquired him. He made the jump from 11 minutes a night in Atlanta to over 20 with the Flyers. I'd love to roll the dice in trying to make that happen again, while paying pennies on the dollar compared to what it would take to acquire some of the bigger-named defensemen.

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