Signed to a one-year, $3 million contract last offseason that brought him over from the KHL in Russia, 33-year old Evgeny Medvedev was expected to be a key piece of the Philadelphia Flyers defense during the 2015-16 season. Unfortunately, Medvedev's season hasn't quite worked out the way the team had hoped it would.
Now, there is talk that Medvedev could be available on the trade market as a rental defenseman. TSN's Frank Seravalli set his valuation at a third-round pick per two unnamed sources, so clearly there are league observers that believe the Russian defenseman could be on the move. But would the Flyers actually pull the trigger?
Should the Flyers try to trade him?
In a perfect world, the Flyers would recognize that Evgeny Medvedev is one of the best defensemen on their current roster, give him minutes commensurate with his talent, and maybe even re-sign him to a short contract as a bridge to the new generation of Philadelphia blueliners.
Unfortunately, we don't live in that world. In reality, Medvedev has struggled to earn the trust of the Flyers' coaching staff and the organization as a whole, resulting in regular scratchings and limited ice time. If Philadelphia will not use Medvedev and have no intention of re-signing the Russian blueliner, then a trade makes perfect sense. And Medvedev should have value on the market, especially for an analytically-inclined team. Since the turn of the calendar year, he's posted a stellar +7.6% Corsi Relative to his teammates, and his full season statistics are solidly positive.
In addition, Medvedev's contract expires at the end of the season, putting him in the category of a rental player. Teams looking to acquire the defenseman would not be forced to commit to him beyond the end of the season, unlike Mark Streit. If he isn't in the Flyers' future plans, Hextall would be smart to turn him into draft picks that could be.
Will the Flyers try to trade him? And if so, will they succeed?
If Philadelphia wants to move Medvedev, they'll have suitors. There were a number of teams interested in bringing him over from the KHL; the Flyers just won the race. Those teams probably have kept an eye on Medvedev this season. Combine that with his impressive underlying statistics, and there will almost certainly be a market for the defenseman's services.
The real question is how the Flyers view Medvedev. With Michael Del Zotto out for the season, Medvedev has the best all-around skillset left on the blueline. It's possible that the front office may now view him as indispensable to a team not yet out of the playoff race. Also, maybe the Flyers do actually have interest in bringing back the defenseman for next season. Hextall and Hakstol have long noted the difficulty of the KHL-to-NHL transition, and it's possible that they will want to reap the rewards of a more comfortable Medvedev.
Still, the majority of evidence supports the theory that the Flyers are not in love with Medvedev's game, and therefore aren't likely to re-sign him. If that is the case, they will put him on the trade market, and probably get a pick or two in return.