Now that the calendar has hit 2023, NHL GMs are looking at when they want to eventually add to the roster to have the best chance to win the Stanley Cup. For Chuck Fletcher and the Philadelphia Flyers, they are almost guaranteed to do the exact opposite of that.
It’s no secret that this team has played well below average, and with the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline just under two months away on March 3, the Flyers are going to have to keep every option on the table.
The more obvious trade candidates are Justin Braun and James van Riemsdyk, mainly due to expiring contracts. Braun, dealt at last year’s deadline to the New York Rangers, signed a one-year, $1 million deal to return to the Flyers this past offseason. In 33 games this season, Braun is a plus-1 and has yet to register a point.
Meanwhile, “JVR” is on the final year of his five-year, $35 million contract signed in the 2018 offseason. Unfortunately for van Riemsdyk, his return to the Flyers hasn’t gone as anticipated. After reaching the 30-goal mark for Toronto twice in a six-year span, van Riemsdyk has topped out at a season-high 27 goals in the first year of the contract.
There was already speculation around van Riemsdyk last season, with fans holding expectations he may be dealt last summer. Fletcher wasn’t able to make a deal, and defended the move by saying that he was unwilling to sacrifice a top draft pick, notably a 2023 first-round pick.
The 33-year-old winger from Middletown, NJ is having another quietly good year, despite missing 20 games due to a fractured finger, with six goals and 16 points in 21 games.
There have been other Flyers players rumored to be trade possibilities. Those players aren’t your usual suspects, but in fact, some relatively big names. Kevin Hayes, Ivan Provorov, and Travis Konecny have all been mentioned in the rumor mill.
Konecny’s name has been floated around for years now, but he appears to have found his game again. At 36 games played, Konecny has matched his career-high in goals with 24, and appears well on track to shatter his marks of 37 assists and 61 points from the 2019-20 season. Konecny currently has 22 assists and 46 points. Although nothing is impossible, it has become increasingly less likely that “TK” gets traded.
Hayes, who was recently named an All-Star for the first time, is also having a solid season. With 36 points in 40 games, Hayes has also been in the rumor mill of late. That said, he carries term and cap, which is the difficult part involving Hayes in a deal. A report from The Fourth Period suggests that interest in Hayes would rapidly increase if the Flyers are willing to retain salary.
Provorov is most intriguing name. According to Crossing Broad’s Anthony SanFilippo, Fletcher was approached by Winnipeg Jets’ GM Kevin Cheveldayoff two years ago and offered a one-for-one trade for Finnish sniper Patrik Laine. The Flyers declined.
Both Provorov and the organization are frustrated with how things have played out since. The 25-year-old Russian defenseman could be looking for a fresh start, despite having two years left on his contract. He has certainly struggled recently, especially this season with only 14 points in 41 games while being a minus-8.
Depending on who Fletcher, or whomever is in the GM chair, is willing to trade at the deadline, here are some possibilities of what each player could be worth.
Considering the Flyers stole a third-round pick for him last year, who’s to say they couldn’t do it again? Analysis: A 2024 third-round pick
The Flyers will likely have to retain salary on the expiring contract, but it depends on the interest level. A lot of contending teams could use somebody of JVR’s size and skill, especially on a power play. Who knows? Maybe he’ll score an important power-play goal to win a series this year. Analysis: A 2023 fourth-round pick, 2024 third-round pick and Philadelphia retains 20 percent of his contract.
Again, this is becoming increasingly likely to not happen. But in the event Konecny were to enter trade talks, he is in his prime and has a moveable contract with a generous AAV. This could give the Flyers a good range of picks and possibly an NHL-ready prospect. On pace for a career year, if Konecny was moved, expect the Flyers to try to maximize the return. Analysis: A 2024 first-round pick, 2025 third-round pick, 2026 third-round pick, and a B+ level prospect.
If the Flyers are willing to retain salary, say $2-3 million, then they will have plenty of suitors this year. It’s quite possible Hayes will have the best year of his career in Philadelphia, but what exactly is his value at the moment? If a team can find room in their top-nine, he will certainly prove his worth for the right playoff contender. Analysis: A 2024 second-round pick, 2024 fourth-round pick
Ironically, Los Angeles has also been linked to Provorov for a year or so now. But if a trade with the Kings were to happen, it’s been noted they are not willing to part ways with top young prospects like Quinton Byfield or Brandt Clarke. However, it has been rumored that if they were willing to give up a top-name prospect for a defenseman like Provorov, they include a player like Alex Turcotte. They have extensive depth at center and defense in their prospect pipeline. Sacrificing a player like Turcotte for Provorov to potentially replace Drew Doughty would work out for both sides. Analysis: Alex Turcotte and a conditional 2025 fourth-round pick for Ivan Provorov.
Altogether, Fletcher and the Flyers front office will be exceptionally busy this year. We will certainly get a clearer answer to who could be on the move and what teams are willing to buy in the coming weeks.