This is Part One in a four-part series looking at each division and their respective teams to determine a single player the Flyers should be realistically targeting this offseason. This list won’t include any team’s potential unrestricted or restricted free agents for an obvious disclaimer. Agree, disagree, have no comment? Please leave a comment below, thx.
The Bruins are in a good spot financially against the cap, with no looming huge free agents to worry about this offseason. Yes, they’ll have to hand out some interesting contracts to Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, but those shouldn’t break the bank. They are set up as a team that could realistically win another Stanley Cup this season (that sound is me vomiting). What could the Flyers realistically trade for here? How about our old friend Jaroslav Halak. At this point in his career he is content on being a back-up and played exceedingly well in Boston this season with a .922 save percentage in 40 games. His five-on-five SV% was .936, which was 8th best in the league this season. He would be an excellent backup and fallback option if our favorite boy Carter Hart were to get hurt. If 2018-19 has taught you anything, healthy and capable backup goalies are important.
Though they didn’t make the playoffs, the Canadiens were a really good team. They finished fourth in xGF% at 54.04 and fourth in CF% at 54.12. They had a bit of bad puck luck and couldn’t find the back of the net. If they had trouble scoring, why do I think the Flyers should pursue Tomas Tatar? The guy that scored 25 goals and 58 points in 80 games this season? I really don’t know, I’m sorry guys. Maybe they’d value that 11th overall pick? Maybe you agree to take Karl Alzner off their hands so they have more room to work with in free agency? It’s worth a shot for a Top Six winger who pushes play.
Tampa Bay Lightning
This is where things get interesting. Tampa has some serious cap issues. Kucherov’s new contract kicks in next year, Brayden Point is going to have to GET PAID to prevent him from being poached (‘sup Flyers), and also figure out what the hell they are going to do about Anton Stralman/Braydon Coburn/Dan Girardi on the backend (as they are all unrestricted free agents). They are going to have to make some trades. Tyler Johnson is the guy I’d want, though I’d suppose I’d listen to Alex Killorn as well. Johnson would fill in that 2C role fairly well (but also plays wing) for the Flyers and is coming off a 29 goal season, his highest since scoring 29 back in 2014-15. He does have a no-trade-clause, but I’m sure Tampa could get him to lift it. I’m going to guess the Lightning will be getting a lot of calls about Johnson, Killorn and Ondrej Palat given their situation.
Toronto Maple Leafs
How about the Leafs just give us William Nylander since their fanbase seems to despise him anyway? They are in a curious predicament in that they are likely going to have to give a monster contract to Mitch Marner and give out pay bumps to Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnson as well. Are they going to want to bring back Jake Gardiner who is a UFA? With only roughly 5 million in cap space in 2019-20, the Leafs are going to need to be creative. Nylander would immediately fall into that second line center role, lessening the pressure that Nolan Patrick seemed to be under the last two years. What would it take to acquire him? Probably a lot, think 1st round pick, Morgan Frost and another prospect. Or perhaps they take a smaller package if the Flyers take on contracts of a decrepit Patrick Marleau or the ghost of Nathan Horton.
I honestly struggled who might be a good fit to come to the Flyers here, but there isn’t much! Barkov, Huberdeau, Hoffman and Trocheck are all key pieces for them and their secondary players don’t make a whole lot of sense. There have been substantial rumors these past few months that the Panthers will go hard after Sergei Bobrovsky in free agency. The ageless Roberto Luongo is locked in for the next few years. Where does that leave their current backup James Reimer? It not a very sexy trade option, but as outlined with Jaroslav Halak above, it is a necessary one. Reimer had a down season in 2018-19, finishing with a .900 SV% in 36 games. However, this is a kid (well he’s 31) that averaged a .918 SV% the previous three seasons. Maybe it was a blip and he’d bounce back? Could be a cheaper backup goalie option for the Flyers.
Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are a team that have so many bad contracts that you can’t even count them on one hand. Their new General Manager Steve Yzerman has his work cut out for him and unfortunately (but fortunately for us) may have to jettison some good players for financial flexibility and future prospects/picks. It would be stupid for Chuck Fletcher to not be checking in on Anthony Mantha and Andreas Anthanasiou. Mantha is a back-to-back 20-goal scorer at the age of 24 and Anthansiou broke out with his first 30-goal season of his career. Both are skilled, speedy wingers that would absolutely thrive in Alain Vigneault’s fast-paced system. Neither would be cheap and likely would require giving up major picks and prospects. For a team like the Flyers who need to capitalize on their aging core now, it might be worth it.
Sadly as we get to teams like this, I’m getting stumped. There is nothing that really makes sense or is realistic for the Flyers. Yeah, call about Jack Eichel or Rasmus Dahlin, see how that goes. Honestly, if you are getting William Nylander on this team, go get his brother Alex Nylander who is mostly just toiling away down in Rochester for the last three years. He’s only 21 and doesn’t have the offensive upside of his brother, but heck make Willie happy and work out a deal. Nylander has 86 points (30 goals, 56 assists) in 165 AHL games.
As much as I would love to see Bobby Ryan on this team so that certain beat writers bowels would loosen upon announcement, there isn’t a whole lot here. Shocking that the Senators franchise is so well run that there is no one worth trading for other than winger Anthony Duclair, the guy that has been traded four times in five years. I’d suggest Craig Anderson as a backup goalie, but he looks cooked. I’m sure Mark Borowiecki would be a fantastic pickup according to certain sections of this fanbase. At least Duclair has shown he can drive play and score some goals I guess. Duclair is still only 23 and you could determine if there is still untapped potential there.