NHL Trades: Do the Flyers Need Weber and Ryan to Compete with Nash's Rangers?

Dan KelleyCorrespondent IIJuly 24, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 19:  Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates up ice against Shea Weber #6 of the Nashville Predators during their game at Nationwide Arena on January 19, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
John Grieshop/Getty Images

Yesterday, the New York Rangers completed a deal for Columbus’ Rick Nash that may have made the Rangers the 2012-2013 Stanley Cup favorites.

For the Philadelphia Flyers to compete with New York’s stacked lineup, Paul Holmgren might need to replicate Glen Sather’s skills, and get a little help from Nashville GM David Poile along the way.

What makes the Rangers so dangerous is not simply what they acquired in Nash, who has scored 30 goals in five consecutive seasons and is capable of putting up 80 points.

The Rangers are dangerous for what they failed to give up getting him.

The team held onto key offensive pieces like Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan as well as defensive studs Michael Del Zotto and Ryan McDonagh.

Adding Nash to the mix having only given up Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round pick is about as good an outcome as the Rangers could have hoped for.

Meanwhile, the Flyers watched the Rangers stack their lineup right in the middle of Philly’s week-long wait to see if they could manage to do the same. The Flyers signed defensive powerhouse Shea Weber to a 14-year offer sheet, and Nashville has until 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night to match the offer or allow Weber to become a Flyer.

Weber would be an ideal addition for Philadelphia, who likely faces the absence of Chris Pronger (via Sporting News) in the 2012-2013 season.

Weber’s hard-hitting defensive style would be especially useful against New York, as the Rangers appear to have transitioned from a defense-first team to a well-balanced squad. If New York’s offense is going to get better (and it will with the addition of Nash and the development of Kreider and Stepan), Philly’s defense needs to improve as well.

But adding Weber alone would likely still leave Philadelphia as the third team in the presumed three-team race for the Atlantic Division crown. Pittsburgh, with a healthy Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Sidney Crosby, is already dangerous, and the Rangers just took the next step toward becoming elite by matching Pittsburgh’s offensive “big three” with Nash, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards.

Philadelphia may need to give some serious thought to establishing its own three-headed monster, headed by breakout star Claude Giroux and leading goal scorer Scott Hartnell. But with Jaromir Jagr gone, Danny Briere playing inconsistently during the regular season and Brayden Schenn still a season or two away from being an offensive stud, the Flyers may need to look elsewhere to round out their trio.

That elsewhere may be Anaheim.

The 700 Level reported that Bobby Ryan has significant interest in returning to his roots by playing for the Flyers. Ryan grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

The Flyers and Ducks were connected in trade rumors earlier this offseason, with speculation primarily centered on James van Riemsdyk and Brayden Schenn. Since then, van Riemsdyk has been traded to Toronto, and CSNPhilly’s Tim Panaccio believes Schenn and fellow sophomore center Sean Couturier will not be moved by Holmgren.

Trade talk seemed to die down for Philadelphia after van Riemsdyk and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky were traded, but it has picked up since the team made its offer for Shea Weber.

The Philadelphia Inquirer initially reported that the Flyers and Predators were discussing a side deal that would motivate the Predators to let Weber walk while still receiving players as compensation. But that reported was later retracted via Philly.com.

As of now, it appears the Weber situation is purely match vs. no match. But if the Predators do not match, the Flyers will find themselves with an overcrowded defensive corps, which opens up trade possibilities.

Weber would make the defense stable and would make young blueliners like Andrej Meszaros expendable. Likewise, the strength on the blue line makes offensive depth slightly less necessary, which could mean that players like Matt Read, Jakub Voracek or prospect Nick Cousins start to become the subject of trade chatter.

This is pure speculation, but with the Pens and Rangers both looking like offensive powerhouses this season, Philadelphia needs to find a way to ensure they can match their rivals on all levels.

Rick Nash is poised to be a scoring force for New York. To compete, Philadelphia needs not only Weber’s shut-down ability, but the offensive counter-punch that Bobby Ryan can provide.