While no on-ice action on June 1st in recent history, the Flyers did make a trade that registered pretty up there on the so-what meter.
Back in 2011 they sent Kris Versteeg to the Florida Panthers for second and third round picks in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The Flyers had just sent their 2011 first and third round picks to the Maple Leafs to acquire Versteeg in February, but the forward never found a fit in Philadelphia and struggled to the tune of 11 points in 27 games though he did pick it up in the playoffs with six points in 11 contests as the Flyers were bounced in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
But with a deep and crowded roster (and salary cap situation), the Flyers decided to cut bait with Versteeg and avoid upwards of the $3 million he was owed against the cap while recouping some value in the process. But what GM Paul Holmgren didn’t know at the time was that he was getting tremendous return value for Versteeg in the form of that third round pick in 2012.
Holmgren used one of the picks (the second, go figure) on an ill-advised trade for aging veteran defenseman Pavel Kubina the deadline after the Versteeg trade, but held onto the third and watched his scouts strike gold with their selection of Union defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere with the 78th overall pick.
After signing with the Flyers Gostisbehere burst onto the scene in 2015-16 with 17 goals and 46 points in 64 games, finishing second in the Calder Trophy race to a 24-year-old rookie who spent the better part of six seasons playing in a professional league in Russia.
Ghost as he would come to be known, gave the Flyers a deadly weapon from the blue line with his advanced offensive instincts and immediately provided the team with an all-important power play quarterback.
Though Gostisbehere fell out of favor a bit during the past season in Alain Vigneault’s first behind the bench, Ghost is still just two seasons removed from a 65-point campaign and provides a reliable power play option on a relatively modest contract in terms of the going rate of NHL defenders ($4.5 million through 2022-23).
With Justin Braun headed to unrestricted free agency whenever the 2019-20 season concludes, the Flyers could be staring at an opening in their top-six for Gostisbehere to slide on in. They also have to deal with restricted free agents in Philippe Myers and Robert Hagg on defense, so having a cost-controlled entity like Ghost around isn’t the worst thing in case one of the negotiations goes sideways.
Perhaps the team could look to move him and recoup some value, but it doesn’t make much sense to sell low on him at this point and the more likely scenario would be to carve out a role for him next year that allows him the best chance to take advantage of his skills as a final shot to prove that he belongs in the regular lineup night-in and night-out.
While we wait to see just where Ghost’s future is with the Flyers, it’s easy to see the kind of value that the Flyers were able to extract from that third round pick in 2012 as a result of Versteeg trade. And while Versteeg enjoyed a solid run after his run with the Flyers, we’d still take the Ghost over him any day of the week.
Also on June 1st in franchise history...random birthdays of the day to Roman Lyubimov (1992)...and pure goal scorer David Laliberte —who scored in each of his first two NHL games— in 1986...