The Philadelphia Flyers, yes, the professional hockey team Philadelphia Flyers, currently hold a six game losing streak (again). Amid countless trade rumors, leadership press conferences, and fan frustration, this is truly one of the lowest points the franchise has seen since their devastatingly terrible 2006-07 campaign. Unlike previous years, where the Flyers were simply mediocre, now they are straight up bad.
However, where mindsets perhaps differ is that there is a path from “bad” that is more easily viewable than “mediocre”. As much as the likes of Dave Scott would have you believe the Flyers aren’t going to be tearing some aspect of the team apart (rather, going for a similarly if not more aggressive re-tool to last offseason), what we could see will be more similar to a re-build than not, spearheaded by the “core players” named by management, and the fact the Flyers are even entertaining a Claude Giroux trade. Though, this of course is no doubt elevated by the fact this is the last year on Giroux’s contract.
There also exists the position the Flyers will face in the draft lottery, which looks increasingly likely day in and day out to be a higher pick than the Flyers have had in recent years (if we forget the #2 overall pick in 2017. Please let us forget). However, something interesting to note is that all the while, with the Giroux trade talks circling, the Flyers have made it clear to the rest of the league that they want to acquire near NHL ready prospects, if not players who could immediately suit up in the orange and black.
The following quote appeared in Elliotte Friedman’s most recent “32 Thoughts” piece:
“Philadelphia deployed operatives to watch both the Avalanche and the AHL Colorado Eagles last week. That signals Philadelphia’s priority isn’t necessarily a first-round draft pick, but a prospect who is ready to compete at the NHL level. It fits with what GM Chuck Fletcher and Comcast Spectacor Chairman and CEO Dave Scott said last month: the Flyers want to be right back in the thick of things next season.”
Whether or not we believe the Flyers will be “right back in the thick of things” by 2022-23 is up for debate, but clearly the Flyers value being able to pick a prospect themselves once they’ve been able to more accurately place their development (over the idea of drafting a player with a lottery ticket).
This is not to suggest that the Flyers won’t acquire picks in any future trades, nor that they’d trade current picks for prospects in a swap, however, considering a Giroux trade won’t be the only move the Flyers make, there are plenty of under the radar prospects who could merit the Flyers attempting to make a move for them…
Antonio Stranges - LW/C (London Knights)
Picked by - Dallas (2020 4th round, 123 overall)
Now, I am aware that this player is incredibly divisive. Just by reading the first line of his Elite Prospects page review, it is evident:
“Captivation, frustration, and awe: three emotions that London Knights forward Antonio Stranges inspires, sometimes on the same shift.”
Scouting reports will point to Stranges’ lack of playing any semblance of defense. However, his ability in the offensive zone is near second to none. He is the current reigning OHL player of the week, and the crazy plays he is able to make with his skating ability and stick handling will make you gasp.
His stride is slightly awkward, but this guy is a next level explosive skater with some of the most insane edge work skills I’ve ever seen (with amazing hands to boot).
It’s as if a hockey content creator like Pavel Barber became an NHL prospect.
Jonatan Berggren - LW/RW (Grand Rapids Griffins)
Picked by - Detroit (2018 2nd round, 33 overall)
The Red Wings as a whole are a fairly underrated team who are closer to being good than a lot of people think. Steve Yzerman has done a fantastic job in turning around the fate of their franchise, and it doesn’t help them this year that they’ve had a fair few injuries.
They have a very young core headed by the likes of Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond, and their existing veteran players like Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi are 25 and 26 respectively. They could be a candidate to trade for a difference maker, and if their trade parter happens to be the Flyers, they should ask for Berggren in return.
In 2020-21, Berggren was a near point-per-game player in the SHL of his native Sweden, and currently sits at 35 point in 43 AHL games with Grand Rapids at just 21 years old. He’s hovered around first to second line potential according to Dobber Prospect’s PNHLe ratings system, and looks like he will be a great top six forward.
Berggren isn’t the largest player in the world, but he more than makes up for it with his skating speed, and tenacity. Berggren is a scoring forward who likes to get to the net, and scores most of his goals right in front of the crease. He also isn’t afraid to retrieve pucks in the corner, and looks like he could be a more mobile and persistent version of James van Riemsdyk.
Tarmo Reunanen - D (Hartford Wolfpack)
Picked by - New York Rangers (2016 4th round, 98 overall)
If the Flyers make a move with a division rival, the Rangers could be a good trade partner if Philadelphia are looking for a prospect on the blue line (as the Rangers have a certain Norris Trophy winner along with an otherwise solid defense core).
Tarmo Reunanen is a bit older than the other prospects here at 23 years old, and he made his Rangers debut last season, notching an assist in four games (funny enough that point came against the Flyers). Reunanen is an offensively-minded defenseman who doesn’t leave a gap in his own zone, which the Flyers would like given their reluctance to keep Shayne Gostisbehere.
According to the Hockey Writers’ scouting report on Reunanen, “it’s all but obvious he could hold his own in the world’s best league”. However, with the Rangers’ organization set up the way it is, will there be room for him? That question looms, and perhaps the Flyers could end up being where Reunanen makes his full season NHL debut.