Flyers | To Be, Or Not To Be Sellers by the Trade Deadline >
 
 

by Michael DeNicola


Thursday, March 21, 2013 --



As the April 3rd NHL trade deadline grows nearer, the Flyers Playoff chances grow further out of sight. As of today, Philadelphia sits at the bottom of the Atlantic Division for the first time in a long time, and it has seemed like forever ago since this organization's even had to entertain the idea of being sellers. 


This team is only placed 5-points out of 8th seed, but the odds are stacked against our Broad Street Bullies like an overweight passenger on a crowded commuter bus. You can have all the faith in the world, but reality tends to win battles over your lucky rabbit's foot. This is not the same 2010 team that hobbled into the Playoffs, overcame a 0-3 QuarterFinals deficit against Boston and represented the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup. So, for the sake of reality and peace of mind, it's time we begin thinking about our future at the cost of euthanizing this pathetic 2013 season. 


With the Flyers in the meat of their six-day hiatus, fans like myself feel like we're in some form of solitary confinement. We're alone with our thoughts, and given the Flyers failures this season, that could be an extremely dangerous thing. But I refuse to allow the surrounding darkness to sway my comprehension from righteousness to unadulterated lunacy. Especially when I factor in this fluky abbreviated season. 



Just yesterday, HockeyBuzz.com's Bill Meltzer wrote, "The ... large segment of [the Philadelphia Flyers] fanbase are notorious for their impatience and what-have-you-done-for-us-lately assessments of personnel. Patience is at a minimum in this city, and it doesn't take much struggle for a young player to go from "untouchable" to the subject of a variety of trade rumors."


Meltzer had also gone on to call out this franchise's upper management for lacking the patience to proactively develop this organization's young talent, similar to a Chicago Blackhawks team or -- dare I say -- a Pittsburgh Penguins team.


Meltzer brilliantly strung his arguments together which excited me to know that someone out there gets it, but, at the same time, his truthful words sunk me into a depression. Why? Well, it has nothing to do with our fans and their daft opinions. It depressed me because Meltzer's correct; The Flyers and Ed Snider "reverse their roster-building course too often in a seeming effort to retroactively win a previous year's Stanley Cup. They are bold but too often in a reactive rather than proactive way."


Where am I going with all of this?


It's my purist opinion -- as a sensible, diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan -- that this team should become "sellers" by the trade deadline. Make note; I am the furthest from giving up on this team. To be honest, I'm quite the opposite. I believe in this squad's core players, and our core is made up of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Luke Schenn, Nicklas Grossmann, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds (since Ilya Bryzgalov is virtually immovable, I must begrudgingly include him in this core as well). It's time our management begins building around this foundation, and do so by NOT making any hasty decisions to pick away from our core group. 


Bill Meltzer articulates that, "It would be utterly asinine to change one's bigger-picture perspective on a player based on two months of hockey or even half a season. This applies to veteran players, too, but especially to ones who are still in the development phase of their careers."


Are all of these aforementioned players untouchable? Of course not. If a proposal to the Flyers makes sense, you make the deal or at least entertain the thought. But only if the action follows certain guidelines that adds to our potential rather than mortgaging it for the sake of some veteran player(s) past his prime. 


In the meantime, I want to see our farm system restocked, whether it be through actual prospect players or draft picks acquired through a trade(s). We have a prospect here and there, but Adirondack is composed of mainly career AHLers. Philadelphia's 2012 Draft class was a start, but it takes a tad longer than a year to really get a grip on who's a legitimate, promising player.



Though this season has disappointingly fallen victim to the League's latest work-stoppage, it still awards lesser competitive teams with a silver-lining. The Conference standings are so tightly compact that more teams are in the Playoff hunt. More teams than usual. As a result of this reality, there are a lesser amount of sellers in the trade market and more teams looking to bulk up for the Cup run. 


This ups the price on players as the trade deadline grows closer. It's a simple rule of supply and demand.


Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford told the NHL.com, "We have a totally different year than we've ever had. We're going to have more teams in the race, and so I would suspect that you're going to pay a premium for players because so many teams are looking for them and these races are going to have a lot of teams in them right until the end."


Boston's GM Peter Chiarelli decided to chime in as well; "It's been so different because everyone is in it and everyone is looking to add. There are a few teams that aren't looking to add, but I would say most of them are still in the race."


If you factor the Flyers poor Playoff chances with next year's cap ceiling lowering to $64.3-million, I can't help but urge Philadelphia to take complete advantage of the present Seller's Market between today and Wednesday, April 3rd.



Right now, the Flyers have ZERO cap space. Heading into the 2013-14 League Year, we have a total of 19 NHL players under contract (including Chris Pronger), and a cap payroll of $61,299,881. That is a little over 3-million cap dollars available to round out a 23-man roster. Unless management is prepared to lessen the quality of our 3rd and 4th lines by splitting $3-million between four more roster players, then that space is not nearly enough to strengthen the Flyers for the coming season. Especially if they're considering making a free agent splash. 


Existing roster players like Simon Gagne, Matt Read, Braydon Coburn, Max Talbot, and Andrej Meszaros (and perhaps even Ruslan Fedotenko) prove to be our team's largest available bargaining chips. These skaters are the most attractive to teams looking to plug holes in their current rosters as they pave their way to the post-season. Also, a cumbersome asking price for one or more of these skaters is not too far fetched, either. 


Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking the Flyers to embark on a fire sale. I don't want to trade for the sake of trading, unless it's a move to dump some salary and save cap space next year (COUGHbriereCOUGH). I just feel that each of these players holds value to any team looking to make a legitimate Cup run, and they're also replaceable (in a manner of speaking). 


You may be questioning why I've listed one or more of these current Flyers. Especially Matt Read. Look, I love the kid, but he'll be 27-years old next season. There's no more potential upside to Read, what you see is what you get, and only for another two or three seasons. My outlook on this roster extends past a few years. I'm more interested in retaining our core, allowing them to develop, and watch them dominate when they average the age of 27. To me, Matt Read is trade leverage, and an outstanding one in this seller's market. The value in return on him could never be higher than it is now. Strike while the iron is hot, and sell high -- pick whatever cliche you want. 


The dream situation would be Danny Briere waiving his no-movement clause, and watching him and his $6.5-million average annual cap cost take a flight outta town and off the books. But all the signs are pointing towards that not happening. Whether or not the organization spends a compliance buyout on Briere this summer is useless to think about right now, seeing as his dismissal in the offseason does jack shit for the Flyers in today's trade market. 



So, who's available out there? After all my preaching, who do I possibly imagine the Flyers kicking the tires on? To be honest, I'm not sure. I don't have a hidden microphone under the desks of every general manager in the League. There are options out there as deep as the junior leagues, as well as some young prospects who could help in the rebuilding of the Flyers blue line. I wouldn't gaff at a handful of high draft picks either. It's a smorgasbord of future pieces for the picking.  


All I know is, given the extreme salary cap situation this Flyers team faces before October 2013, it'd behoove them to begin taking advantage of what hopefully will never happen again..... a Seller's Market in an abbreviated season. 



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