The Philadelphia Flyers are one of the few basement-dwelling teams stuck in neutral as fire sales continue around them. There has been a whirlwind of activity around the NHL with Chuck Fletcher only getting in on the action to trade failed prospect Isaac Ratcliffe for future considerations.
On Tuesday, Fletcher addressed the media and basically said that the Flyers are most likely to trade their expiring contracts — James van Riemsdyk, Justin Braun, and Patrick Brown — while they’ll listen on others.
Unfortunately, that trio of players is unlikely to bring back much more than a few mid-round picks. This is a team that already doesn’t have its own second or third-round picks this year after trading them for two overpaid defensemen.
So, what should the Flyers be doing? Well, they should be actively shopping some of their more-established players; players that teams may actually give up valuable assets for.
Here are three players that the Flyers should trade but probably won’t:
Cap hit: $3M through 2026
Stats: 57 GP, 13 G, 21 A, 34 PTS
Laughton was a potential trade deadline piece two years ago but the Flyers opted to sign him to a five-year, $15 million extension instead.
The 2012 first-round pick was a top prospect thanks to his skill and carved a role out for himself as a bottom-six grinder before working his way up the lineup. While he still isn’t a top-six forward on a competitive team, Laughton is the type of player that playoff teams dream of acquiring.
Laughton can play up and down the lineup at all three positions and, although it may be a stretch to have him on the power play, he’s a responsible 200-foot forward that you can rely on in all situations. He’s especially strong on the penalty kill and has seven shorthanded points (three goal, four assists) this season.
There is the argument to be made that Laughton is someone that the Flyers can use as a steady presence in the lineup — their next captain, perhaps. However, that presence may not be as important as the picks and prospects the Flyers may be able to trade him for.
Tanner Jeannot is a perfect example. While the former Nashville forward is a bit younger (25) and scored 24 goals last year (on 19.4%), Laughton can hold his own with 13 goals on the season and he wouldn’t cost as much.
The Lightning gave up a draft pick in each of the first five rounds (the first-rounder is conditional) for the pending RFA. For someone like Laughton with a proven work ethic and manageable $3 million cap hit through 2026? You’d hope that the Flyers could get a similar return, albeit a slightly lesser one.
Laughton isn’t necessarily one of the players that the Flyers should be shopping the most. He’s just someone that perhaps they should be listening on a bit more than they are.
Cap hit: $6.75M through 2025
Stats: 61 GP, 4 G, 18 A, 22 PTS, 23:09 ATOI
Despite what seems like a consistent decline in performance by Provorov, the top-pair defenseman has some value around the league. He hasn’t missed a game all season — only warmups — while playing well over 20 minutes a night.
Provorov isn’t going to come in and solve someone’s defensive problems on his own, but he can be a key piece on an already-established blue line. We saw how he played with Matt Niskanen for one season. Perhaps a team would value him if they know he can slot in on the second pair, or even the first, with a legitimate top-four defenseman — which the Flyers don’t seem to have.
The top-pair defenseman would likely be able to fetch a decent return. Draft picks have been flying all over the place for defensemen, including the Maple Leafs trading a third-round pick for Luke Schenn! Dmitry Orlov got multiple draft picks in return from Boston and Mattias Ekholm is off the board after the Oilers sent Tyson Barrie and a first-round pick to Nashville.
If not Provorov, take your pick from the other defensemen. The Flyers have $23.1 million on the books for next season between Provorov, Travis Sanheim ($6.25M) Rasmus Ristolainen ($5.1M), and Anthony DeAngelo ($5M). Ideally, the Flyers would be able to move one of those latter two, but that seems highly unlikely.
Cap hit: $3.979M through 2024 (RFA)
Stats: 16-19-9, 2.94 GAA, .908 SV%, 1 SO
No, this is not giving up on Carter Hart.
No, this is not buying into the Samuel Ersson hype after less than 10 hours of action in the NHL.
This is admitting that by the time the Flyers can’t win the Stanley Cup in the next half-decade. Philadelphia finally has what looks to be a potential franchise goalie but there is no team around him. It’s unfortunate, especially given Hart’s pedigree coming out of juniors.
Would the Flyers regret trading Hart if he turned into a Vezina Trophy winner? Absolutely. But they’ve already done that while they were trying to compete. Now that they’re looking to rebuild, a stud goalie goes completely against that as the team can’t truly bottom out.
Nevertheless, yes, the Flyers should look to trade Hart. Goalie trades are somewhat unprecedented in the NHL, especially at the trade deadline, but so many teams are “just a goalie away” from cementing themselves as Stanley Cup contenders.
At the same time, who knows? Maybe Hart isn’t the guy. Maybe his save percentage and inconsistent play is worrisome, and it’s not just the team in front of him.
It doesn’t actually matter as the chances of the Flyers trading Hart before Friday are as slim as their playoff chances, but it’s a worthy thought.
Hopefully, the Flyers can now get to selling after admitting that they are at this deadline. It will be disappointing — though not surprising — if it is only the pending UFAs dealt. I would be shocked if any of these three are moved, although Provorov wouldn’t be as startling given that he was brought up in rumors.
Kevin Hayes is another player that the Flyers absolutely should trade but who knows if they’d get anything besides cap relief for him. He’s also been mentioned recently and a playoff team could be looking for a depth veteran center.
Either way, Fletcher and the Flyers need to pick a direction and stick to it. He’s already gotten quite a few chances — a few too many, some may say — and his seat should be very hot.