After a five-day break, the Philadelphia Flyers returned to action on Sunday night and lost in overtime to the rival Pittsburgh Penguins, despite an impressive performance from starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Flyers are five points behind the New York Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and a few additions to the roster could give this team the boost it needs for a strong finish to the season.
General manager Paul Holmgren has quite a few areas of concern to address at the deadline, including depth/talent on the blue line, finding a better backup goaltender and adding a gritty forward with offensive skill to the roster.
Let's look at all the recent rumors and speculation involving the Flyers as the trade deadline approaches. Be sure to check back to this article on a daily basis for the latest news and reports.
UPDATE: Friday, March 29 at 8:55 a.m. ET
With the Flyers on a four-game losing streak, it's very unlikely that they will make a move for Dan Boyle, who would likely cost Philadelphia a couple valuable trade assets.
Making the playoffs is not a realistic goal for the Flyers this season, so there is no reason to make a bold trade for an aging veteran such as Boyle. If Boyle is moved, expect him to go to a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
---End of Update---
The Philadelphia Flyers will likely explore many options to upgrade the talent and depth on their blue line, but one player who the team should not pursue is San Jose Sharks veteran Dan Boyle.
At 36 years old, Boyle is an offensive defenseman who is still capable of putting up points and creating scoring chances on the power play, but he's not a shut-down defender. He also has a salary cap hit of $6.66 million, and his contract does not expire until after the 2013-14 season.
Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported on the Flyers' lack of interest in Boyle:
As of now, #Flyers do NOT plan to make a pitch for D-men Jay Bouwmeester orDan Boyle, I'm told.— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) March 24, 2013
If the Flyers are going to acquire a defenseman before the deadline, it should be a young player with upside or a veteran with an expiring contract.
Adding a player like Boyle with a large cap hit would be a move for the Flyers to make if they were one player away from contending for the Stanley Cup, but that isn't the situation that Philly is in right now.
UPDATE: Friday, March 29 at 9:00 a.m. ET
The rival Pittsburgh Penguins traded for Jarome Iginla on Thursday to bolster their scoring depth for the playoffs. To acquire the Calgary Flames captain, Pittsburgh had to give up two NCAA prospects and its first round pick in the upcoming NHL Draft.
The Flyers and Penguins will not play again this season unless they meet in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
---End of Update---
The Jarome Iginla chatter has gone to another level in the last few days. According to Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun, the Flyers are among the possible destinations for the Calgary Flames winger if he's traded before the deadline:
The latest rumours have Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla destined to be traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins or Boston Bruins or Los Angeles Kings or Vancouver Canucks or Philadelphia Flyers or Detroit Red Wings.
Iginla would upgrade the Flyers by giving them more scoring on the wings, additional toughness, lots of playoff experience and leadership for their top-six forward group.
However, if Iginla approves a trade to leave Calgary before the deadline, he will likely do so only if the team that he would go to has a real chance of winning a championship in 2013, because he has never won the Stanley Cup in his career. So Philadelphia is an unrealistic destination for Iginla because the Flyers will not challenge for the Stanley Cup this season.
Iginla could be an option for the Flyers during the offseason if he reaches the free-agent market, but a midseason deal for the Flames forward seems very unlikely for the Broad Street club.
UPDATE: Friday, March 29 at 9:08 am. ET
Max Talbot might be a coveted player at the trade deadline, but according to Renaud Lavoie of RDS, the Flyers don't seem willing to give up the veteran forward:
And lots of interest for Max Talbot. Flyers answer is: "not available". #RDS— Renaud Lavoie (@RenLavoieRDS) March 28, 2013
If the Flyers feel like they are close to being competitive, there's no reasons to trade Talbot because he's a valuable depth forward who thrives in the team's physical style of play.
---End of Update---
If the Flyers choose not to make a major deal to boost their chances of earning a playoff spot and becomes sellers at the trade deadline, could Maxime Talbot be moved to a contending team?
Andy Strickland of TrueHockey.com recently reported on Talbot's situation in Philly:
The Flyers are willing to part with Max Talbot and a number of teams are apparently kicking tires here. Several sources suggest St. Louis is one of them.
Talbot is a proven playoff performer who can play center or wing. When acquiring a player like this you don’t wonder if he can fill a role because he’s already done it.
He has three years left on his deal after this year with his salary going down each season. Talbot brings a $1.750 cap hit.
Talbot is a great locker room guy and would be a great addition to any team that expects to contend for the Stanley Cup this season and in the near future. He has struggled offensively this year, with four goals through 31 games after scoring a career-high 19 goals last season, but he is a valuable part of the Flyers' depth and penalty kill.
Talbot is also responsible defensively and energizes his teammates with big hits and the intensity he plays with on each shift.
As a player who impacts the game in so many ways and also has a very manageable salary cap hit, Talbot could be a coveted player on the trade market if Holmgren decides to move him before the deadline.
One team that needs a gritty depth forward like Talbot is the Montreal Canadiens. They need another physical forward for the playoffs and have lots of defensive depth to offer the Flyers in a possible deal.
UPDATE: Friday, March 29 at 9:10 a.m. ET
There have been no new reports on Matt Read for a few weeks now, so it doesn't seem likely that he will be moved before the April 3 trade deadline. Unless a team is willing to make an offer that Philadelphia is unable to refuse, expect Read to remain with the Flyers for the rest of the season.
The 27-year-old forward has struggled to produce offensively over the last month with zero goals scored since February 18.
---End of Update---
Matt Read is one of several talented young forwards the Flyers will have to re-sign over the next two summers.
Unlike Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn, Read is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after next season if he's not signed to a contract extension before then.
Earlier this month, CBC's Elliotte Friedman shared the following information on Read:
Boy, do teams love what Matt Read is doing right now, coming back to help the Flyers even though he is clearly in pain. Talk about gaining respect. If Philly does any business with Calgary, know that Flames assistant GM John Weisbrod has chased Read for years.
If the Flyers show interest in Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who has one more year remaining on his contract with a $6.68 million salary cap hit, it wouldn't be surprising if Read was part of a potential deal between the two teams.
Bouwmeester, 29, is a top-tier offensive defenseman who doesn't turn the puck over very often. He would also upgrade the Flyers' power play with his playmaking skills and give Kimmo Timonen a better partner for Philly's top defensive pairing.
The Flyers don't have a lot of cap room for next season. and a number of the team's best young players, including Giroux, will be due for huge raises soon. If re-signing Read would hurt Holmgren's cap flexibility over the next few seasons, he could dangle him in the trade market for help on the blue line.
As a hard-working forward who can score goals, play well defensively and contribute on special teams, Read should have plenty of value if he's put on the trading block.
Of the four young forwards that are eligible for free agency in the summer of 2014, re-signing Giroux (RFA), Schenn (RFA) and Sean Couturier (RFA) should be accomplished before Read gets a new deal.