With the NHL Trade Deadline approaching on Monday at 3 p.m., Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall seems to have already decided that he will be selling and continuing his plan to build towards the future.
The team is within striking distance of a playoff spot. However, with captain Claude Giroux and top defenseman Michael Del Zotto missing from the lineup, the Flyers postseason hopes are slipping away.
So if Hextall is selling, who should he send packing? For the Flyers GM, it’s about knowing who has high-market value and who he's peddling for next to nothing. Let’s look at what his options are by position.
Brayden SchennAge: 24Contract: Expiring (last season with $2.5 million cap hit, becomes restricted free agent)Stats: 18 goals, 18 assists, 36 pointsTrade Status: Unlikely to be availableTrade Value: Moderate sellAnalysis: Schenn is starting to become the player the Flyers believed they were getting in the trade that also sent Wayne Simmonds to Philadelphia. He’s rounding out into a sound 20-goal scorer that’s capable of playing wing and center. His trade value has always been high as teams love his potential. But dealing him at this trade deadline doesn’t make much sense. Hextall has the leverage to re-sign Schenn to a manageable deal or let him walk via an offer sheet and take the draft pick compensation. Schenn can certainly grow into a more responsible defensive player while hitting his ceiling of a 20-25 goal per season contributor. Therefore, Schenn’s market value hasn’t hit its apex. Expect Schenn to survive the deadline.
Sam GagnerAge: 26Contract: Expiring (last season with $3.2 million cap hit, becomes unrestricted free agent)Stats: 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 pointsTrade Status: AvailableTrade Value: Sell lowAnalysis: Gagner was supposed to be the forward equivalent of Michael Del Zotto from last season. His acquisition from Arizona gave the Flyers a low-risk, potentially high-reward player. Unfortunately, Gagner hasn’t provided many rewards. His low point production in 30 games, coupled with his time in the AHL have marred his trade value. Any compensation for Gagner would be a bonus, but it wouldn’t be much. Not many playoff caliber teams will have much use for the struggling utility player. Gagner will likely remain with the team due to low demand and be stuck looking for new employment as an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Matt ReadAge: 29Contract: Moderate term ($3.625 million cap hit until 2018)Stats: 10 goals, 10 assists, 20 pointsTrade Status: AvailableTrade Value: Sell lowAnalysis: Read is an interesting commodity to potentially deal. His production has dropped significantly since 2013-14. He also seems to be in Dave Hakstol’s doghouse as the coach has scratched the winger a few times this season. However, his possession metrics are the best he’s had in his career which is a product of his sound defensive play and getting more offensive zone starts than in the last two seasons. His cap hit and term may scare off potential suitors as Read seems to be settling into a third line defensive winger role whose capable of potting a goal or two. He won’t command the kind of offers he would have after his rookie season or two years ago. Though there also doesn’t seem to be a winger currently on the team who can match Read’s defensive skills which may make Hextall reluctant to deal him. Expect Read to be shopped but remain.
Michael RafflAge: 27Contract: Expiring (last year with $1.1 million cap hit)Stats: 8 goals, 9 assists, 17 pointsTrade Status: Not AvailableTrade Value: Sell lowAnalysis: It appeared like Raffl was on his way out of Philadelphia. His low cap hit and expiring deal make him an ideal rental for any contending team looking to add depth to their bottom six. After scoring 21 goals last season, Hextall would have sold high if he dealt the Austrian winger then. Instead, Raffl could have yielded a decent draft choice or two. However, James Mirtle reported that the Flyers are looking to re-sign Raffl. His low production this season may give Hextall a bit of leverage when negotiating the new deal which could be anything from a $2-3 million annual salary.
Ryan WhiteAge: 27Contract: Expiring (last year remaining with $800,000 cap hit, becomes unrestricted free agent)Stats: 7 goals, 4 assists, 11 pointsTrade Status: AvailableTrade Value: Moderate sellAnalysis: White is a decent player for a playoff contending team to add if they feel they need more grit. White can also provide a net presence as he often takes Wayne Simmonds’ place screening the goaltender on power plays when the Flyers top goal scorer isn’t available. White’s low Corsi and Fenwick coupled with a higher offensive zone start percentage highlight his lack of possession skills which could drive his price down. Though any team looking to bring in someone like White won’t be focusing too much on that. After all, the Boston Bruins gave Hextall a third round pick for Zac Rinaldo so anything is possible.
R.J. UmbergerAge: 33Contract: Short term (one year remaining with $4.6 million cap hit)Stats: 1 goal, 9 assists, 10 pointsTrade Status: AvailableTrade Value: Extremely low sellAnalysis: Hextall worked some magic to deal Vincent Lecavalier to Los Angeles. He’ll need more of that same sorcery to unload Umberger at the deadline. The Flyers cannot retain any more salary in trades. So if a team was interested in Umberger but didn’t want to take all of his cap hit, the Flyers are out of options. Money is the biggest obstacle to a trade as any team who acquires Umberger will have to either retain his $4.6 million cap hit or buy him out in the offseason. Neither price is great for Umberger’s poor possession skills, lack of production and paltry fourth line minutes. Expect Umberger to remain with the Flyers due to no demand.
Mark StreitAge: 38Contract: Short term (one year remaining with $5.25 million cap hit)Stats: 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 pointsTrade Status: AvailableTrade Value: Sell lowAnalysis: With Hextall in sell mode, Streit is perhaps the one player he needs to deal away at this year's deadline. At 38 years old, Streit doesn't fit into the Flyers' long-term plans and his power play role has diminished since Shayne Gostisbehere's arrival. Any team looking to add an offensive defenseman will consider Streit. However, his production is projected to be his lowest since his rookie campaign. Teams will be skittish about his play this season and whether or not he can produce like he did last year. Expect Hextall to try and deal the aging defenseman, but finding another GM to tango with will be another story entirely.
Nick SchultzAge: 33Contract: Short term (one year remaining with $2.25 million cap hit)Stats: 1 goal, 6 assists, 7 pointsTrade Status: AvailableTrade Value: Sell lowAnalysis: Schultz has not looked great this season. For Flyers fans, that’s compared to his first season in orange and black when he produced 3.3 overall point shares. In contrast, he’s only responsible for 1.7 point shares this season. He will likely never hit a mark that high again in his career, but it definitely won’t during this campaign as he’s been chained to the defensive zone. Schultz starts nearly 62 percent of his shifts in his own end. The time to deal Schultz for peak return was last year, but Hextall jumped the gun and gave him an extension instead. Now the Flyers GM should look to deal the stay-at-home defenseman for even more cap space wiggle room.
Evgeny MedvedevAge: 33Contract: Expiring (last year with $3 million cap hit, becomes unrestricted free agent)Stats: 3 goals, 7 assists, 10 pointsTrade Status: AvailableTrade Value: Sell lowAnalysis: Medvedev is a weird name that has popped up in trade talks. He really shouldn’t have much of a market because he’s still getting accustomed to the North American game. Being comfortable with the smaller rink and better communication with his teammates explains many of his inconsistencies this season, but not all. Yet, what team wants to give away a draft choice or a player for what essentially is a 33-year-old project? It seems like there could potentially be a few. Like Gagner, it would be a bonus for Hextall to turn Medvedev into a prospect or pick, but not mandatory. It'll be interesting to see what contender would roll the dice on a deal for the Russian defenseman. Language barrier and inconsistencies notwithstanding depth on the blueline is vital come the postseason.
Radko GudasAge: 25Contract: Expiring (last year with 991,666 cap hit, becomes restricted free agent)Stats: No goals, 5 assists, 5 pointsTrade Status: Potentially availableTrade Value: Sell high, apparentlyAnalysis: TSN's Bob McKenzie reported that the Flyers may have received an offer of two second round draft picks for Gudas. That's quite a deal for the hard-hitting defenseman who dodges suspensions with ease. Hextall may not have pulled the trigger on that trade then because he wanted to see where his team was going in the playoff hunt. Now that he is in sell mode, does that change? Two second-round draft choices is high value for last year's Braydon Coburn trade throw in, but Hextall may want to hold on to the young defenseman to keep some grit on the blueline. Besides, as a restricted free agent Hextall should be able to keep Gudas at a very favorable price.
Andrew MacDonaldAge: 29Contract: Long term ($5 million cap hit until 2020)Stats: No points in six gamesTrade Status: UntradeableTrade Value: Very low sellAnalysis: MacDonald’s NHL career is in shambles and he needs to prove himself while Del Zotto is injured. Even if he did show up and immediately set the league on fire, Hextall would still have a rough time dealing the former Islander. His term and cap hit are too much for any team to absorb. Even the clubs with ample cap room don’t want a contract like that because of the length of time his $5 million salary. While he did play well for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms accumulating five goals, 31 assists and 36 points in 43 contests, MacDonald has a long way to go to make himself a marketable NHL commodity. Trading him now is a pipe dream.
Michal NeuvirthAge: 27Contract: Short term (one year left with $1.625 million cap hit)Stats: 13-7-4, 2.21 GAA, .928 save percentage, 3 shutoutsTrade Status: Unlikely to be availableTrade Value: Very high sellAnalysis: The best value the Flyers could get on the trade market would be for Neuvirth. He is having the best season of his career. His 13 wins match his second-highest total throughout his career while his goals against average, five-on-five and total save percentages dwarf anything he’s done in New York, Buffalo or Washington. It would force the Flyers to scramble to find a new backup goaltender for the rest of the season and onward, but there’s no doubt that Neuvirth’s trade value is the highest it likely will ever be and if Hextall doubts the team can get to the postseason now, he might as well sell high.
Dan Heaning is a contributing writer to Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Heaning.