We previously looked at the Atlantic Division and there is a ton of potential there for Flyers to find players if the free agent waters prove to be unfruitful. The Metropolitan Division might be a different story. In-division trading is always a tricky thing between rivals, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t hold out hope that professional Hockey Men can put those animosities aside and make their hockey teams better. Let’s jump in.
It’s hard to find much on a team where most of their current value lays in their pending free agents (Matt Duchene/Artemi Panarin), their locked in core (Cam Atkinson/Nick Foligno/Boone Jenner) or their young and talented defensemen (Seth Jones/Zach Werenski). A very unsexy target could be right-handed d-man David Savard, who could be a “veteran presence” guy and could play the third pairing without hurting you. Another option could be winger Oliver Bjorkstrand who is coming off his first 20-goal season as a 23 year old. Resigning both Duchene and Panarin could make them look to part with skaters like Bjorkstrand who are further down the depth chart.
The Flyers will want no part in that TJ Oshie contract and I think I would personally march on the Wells Fargo Center if Tom Wilson were in any consideration. The Capitals are going to have to decide this summer whether they want to bring back Andre Burakowsky and give a raise to the blossoming Jakub Vrana. They are also going to want to make moves this offseason to get the most out of guys like Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom while they are still on top of their game. The Flyers should look into the availability of Dimitry Orlov, who didn’t have quite the 2018-19 season most were expecting. However, in the past few seasons he has shown a dynamic playmaking ability and has been an excellent possession player. It could be time to cash in while his stock is low.
Yes, the thought of making a meaningful hockey trade with the Devils makes me feel dirty too. Nico Hirscher isn’t going anywhere, as is Taylor Hall. Maybe the Devils would listen on winger Kyle Palmieri? Palmeiri has four straight 20+ goal seasons, but is going on 29 and might not fit into their long-term plans. They’ll be drafting Jack Hughes in a month or so (in case you forgot) and could unexpectedly be good again and need Palmieri’s services. The only other option I could see would be going after John Quenneville, who is a 23 year old forward on their AHL squad and has seen time with the big club. He is the second cousin of Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville. Perhaps the Flyers could go into the 2019-20 season with a Quenneville on the team after all.
I’m sure a lot will be decided on how they come out of these playoffs, but this offseason will see them making free agent decisions on Justin Williams, Michael Ferland and Petr Mrazek. They’ll also be giving out a (likely) spanking new contract to the talented Sebastian Aho. With Jacob Slavin, Justin Faulk, Calvin De Haan and Brett Pesce already on the backend, it seems like an embarrassment of riches on defense. Would the Canes look to deal Dougie Hamilton for the right price? He’s exceptionally good and is coming off a career-high 18 goals. I’d wonder if the Flyers would entertain some sort of Ghost/Hamilton trade...
Shockingly, the Islanders might actually be good. It took me six months to come to terms with that. Sadly, even if they advance further in the playoffs, tough decisions await them in the offseason. A lot of their integral players, including: Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Robin Lehner are pending free agents. This might force them to have to deal their slightly expensive backup, Thomas Greiss. Greiss finished with a .927 save percentage in 43 games. He’s proven to be a strong and reliable backup goalie in his career, which is something the Flyers need.
Okay I’m done laughing. I was looking at the Penguins cap situation and you can’t help but chuckle. They are currently over the cap as it sits for the 2019-20 season it appears and are going to have to make moves. You assume guys like Crosby, Malkin, Guentzel, Letang and Murray are off-limits. Phil Kessel I’d put in the “highly doubtful” category. They have a bunch of terrible contracts for barely functional defensemen. This could leave teams, like the Flyers, to pounce on a good player like Nick Bjugstad who had a down year between Florida and Pittsburgh last season. Bjugstad is a play-driver and a year removed from a 19 goal, 49 point season.
The Rangers are in full rebuild and preparing for the future. Does 28 year old winger Chris Kreider fit into that plan? We’ve seen the Rangers shed most of the old guard over the last few season and Kreider is one of those last remaining guys. Mind you, he’s still a fantastic player coming off one of the best seasons of his career (28 goals, 52 points in 79 games). Kreider, who is quite the speedy skater, would be a fit in Alain Vignault’s system (whom which was his coach for much of his Rangers career). Ryan Strome would be a a fun flier to take, as I’m sure it would make one BSH writer happy.