With the NHL Trade Deadline less than two weeks away, many Flyers fans are salivating at the thought of the team making a big acquisition on February 27th. With all the rumors coming out nearly every day involving the club, one wonders if the Flyers are even going to be buyers at the deadline.
The biggest names linked to the Flyers in recent weeks include Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash, Nashville Predators stud defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber and Toronto Maple Leafs young blueliner Luke Schenn.
Let’s start with Nash. Philadelphia Daily News Flyers beat writer Frank Seravalli suggests that any rumors linking the Flyers with Nash seem far-fetched. As Seravalli points out, the Flyers could free up to $6.8 million in cap space with AHL demotions, requiring them to send at least $1 million in salary back to Columbus in a deal.
Any deal the Flyers could make with the Blue jackets would have to include at least one member of the Philly youth movement including Sean Couturier, Matt Read, Brayden Schenn and James van Riemsdyk.
The Flyers made huge changes this past offseason to get younger so it's puzzling to imagine a deal that would make the Flyers older. Adding Nash would also make Philadelphia deeper at forward, which is arguably their strongest attribute.
All eyes figure to be on defense when looking at the Flyers. The loss of captain Chris Pronger left a huge hole on the Flyer blue line, one they have yet to fill with AHL call-ups.
The list of available defensemen for the Flyers to add continues to get smaller as more teams push closer to being playoff contenders or sign their top trading chips to contract extensions. Last month, the Carolina Hurricanes locked up Tim Gleason to a four-year extension. The Anaheim Ducks did the same with Francois Beauchemin and earlier this week the Edmonton Oilers inked Andy Sutton through next season.
The Predators don’t seem to be in any hurry to move Suter or Weber as they lean toward getting long-term deals done with both players in the offseason. Nashville also remains in the thick of the Western Conference playoff picture and would like to have both guys along for the ride in the postseason.
Luke Schenn’s name has popped up throughout the winter as being linked to the Flyers, but it's hard to believe the Flyers would be willing to part with the price tag that Leafs GM Brian Burke has been rumored to be asking in return. It's believed a deal for Schenn would require van Riemsdyk or Luke’s younger brother Brayden in return.
It's all these factors that lead me to what Seravalli wrote on Tuesday. I would not be surprised if the Flyers were in fact sellers at the deadline, if not completely inactive. It's not a conclusion most Flyers fans would like to hear, but it is very likely.
Seravalli notes that the price for a summer rental like Hal Gill could be too costly for this Flyers team which is starting to show its wounds may be deeper than a single above average defensemen can repair.
An attempt to fix things for the next few months could cost the Flyers a key piece of their future for several years. The gap between the top dogs in the Eastern Conference and this Flyers club has widened immensely over the last few weeks, leaving Philadelphia a long shot as Stanley Cup contenders in 2012.
While it’s hard for Flyers fans to swallow because we so desperately crave another Stanley Cup parade down Broad Street, the smartest thing GM Paul Holmgren could do at the deadline could very well be to steer clear of the frenzy.
Small additions or subtractions may be in store for Holmgren and the Flyers on deadline day, but I certainly don’t expect the Flyers to be involved in any blockbuster moves this season.