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Priced to Move? Examining the Flyers Options as Trade Deadline Approaches

Mar 26, 2013, 3:03 PM EDT

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The Flyers are a lot like a car accident right now. Don’t
worry! Everybody is a little shaken up, some minor bumps and bruises, but
otherwise okay. The vehicle on the other hand…

Now the insurance company needs to assess the damage. It
still drives, although they suspect something is out whack with the suspension because
the ride is no longer very smooth at all. Fixing it might be as simple as
replacing the defective parts. Either way the insurance might want to total the
automobile based on the damage to the exterior alone, even if the driver prefers
to get it back on the road because some of the features are cool and might be
hard to find.

Then again, maybe it would be best not to get those crooks
involved at all, instead try to get little things fixed over time.

My apologies in advance if the metaphor runs too deep, but the Flyers
are in no-man’s land both in the standings and with regard to what they should
do at the upcoming trade deadline one week from today on April 3. They certainly
haven’t looked like a playoff team, much less a viable contender, but there is
a ton of talent on the roster, and it’s been proven time and time again anybody
can get hot and win the Stanley Cup as long as they get in the tournament
first.

So the debate is whether they should get the work done – buy
– or total it and start looking for something new – sell.

No matter what happens over the next four games, buying is likely
an option that only people within the organization would consider a reasonable solution.
The team is flawed, has been inconsistent all season, is constantly up against
the salary cap, not to mention would still be on the brink of missing the
playoffs when everything was said and done.

And at what cost do the Flyers acquire this magic cure-all?
Sean Couturier? Brayden Schenn? Would they mortgage the future for a ride that
could just wind up stranded by the side of the road anyway?

Selling is sort of a pipe dream, too. Who is the front
office able to move that will give the franchise the cap relief necessary to
make big changes in the offseason? Danny Briere was the obvious choice, and
there was said to be some interest around the league, but the obvious concern
is he would use his no-trade clause – plus now he’s out with a concussion.

What other high-priced trade chips are available that
somebody else would actually want? Scott Hartnell? Ilya Bryzgalov? Face it, the
Flyers are stuck with that old jalopy.

There was a third option though: fix it as they go. In other
words, do nothing. You and I both know it would take everything in the organization’s
power to stand pat at the trade deadline, but unless the absolute right deal
pulls on to the lot, it might make more sense to stick with the fixer-upper.

Why overreact to between 30 and 35 games of a shortened
hockey season? HockeyBuzz’s Bill Meltzer made a salient point as the Flyers
went into their five-day break last week, saying it would be “utterly asinine”
to reverse course on their current direction given the sample size and nature
of a shortened season.

Here’s the No. 1 thing to keep in
mind: The Flyers have played two months of hockey. The season started on Jan
19. Today is March 20. In a normal season cycle, the Flyers would have played
fewer than their current 30 games after two months. In a legitimate full
season, it would be December, and we’d be still be several weeks away from the
statistical halfway point of the schedule.

What the Flyers’ brain trust needs to realize as the
deadline approaches is that while there are a handful of established veterans
in that locker room, the core of this team is young and still developing.
Couturier, both Schenns, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and even Claude Giroux
are all 25 years old or younger. Matt Read is 26, and there are a bunch of
kids in their system such as Tye McGinn, Scott Laughton, Marc-Andre Bourdon,
Erik Gustafsson, and Brandon Manning that can have a major impact in the near future.

Should the Flyers really add a spoiler on to the back end of
their whip at the expense of putting the rest of it up on blocks? Should they start thinking about trading in a few of the classics for significantly less than blue-book value so they can start saving for something new? Or should they ride it out with the parts they have and worry about restoring the finish over time?