NHL Trade Deadline Primer for the Philadelphia Flyers

Michael Pizzutillo@@Mike_PizzutilloCorrespondent IIIMarch 27, 2013

NHL Trade Deadline Primer for the Philadelphia Flyers

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    As the NHL trade deadline is a little over a week away, the Philadelphia Flyers find themselves in an interesting position.

    Buy, sell or neither?

    The team's inconsistent play and lack of leadership throughout the season proves Philly has gaping holes on its roster and are far from an elite hockey club.

    With the entire league scrambling to make the next big move, here is the Philadelphia Flyers' trade deadline primer for next week's action.

Free Agents

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    Unrestricted Free Agents

    Simon Gagne - Gagne proved he still has plenty of gas left in his tank, yet he was a short-term fix and not a long-term solution. The team may look to move him at the deadline to any buyers searching for postseason experience.

    Ruslan Fedontenko - Rusty has been a disappointment this season, providing little on offense for the Flyers. He's still a weapon on special teams, and many teams could benefit from his services. With 108 playoff games under his belt, Philly could package him to a bubble team looking for a rental player to help chase a championship.

    Jody Shelley - The hard-nosed forward was placed on the IR earlier this year and will not be moving at the deadline. Philly will likely let him walk after the season, as well.

    Mike Knuble - One of the nicest players in the NHL has probably seen his final days in a Flyers' uniform. Knuble's been a healthy scratch late in the season and will likely draw little-to-no interest at the deadline.

    Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher - Both backup goalies will be free agents and have contributed very little to the Flyers. GM Paul Holmgren will face a decision to keep one or let both walk. Neither should draw interest from teams around the league on April 3.

    Kurtis Foster - Foster never developed into a regular player for the Flyers, but the big defenseman has managed five points in 14 games for the team. The Flyers lack depth on defense, therefore might re-sign the blueliner for the right price. He should also be a non-factor come the deadline.

    Matt Walker - Matt Walker has been sidelined with a concussion the entire season and will not be considered a factor for the trade deadline.

    Restricted Free Agents

    Harry Zolniercyzk - The young forward has played sparingly this season with glimpses of hope. The Flyers are very deep at forward, and Zolniercyzk could be packaged to a team looking to rebuild for the future. If he survives the deadline, the Flyers will likely re-sign the talented player.

    Zac Rinaldo - Rinaldo is the definition of a Broad Street Bully. He has played disciplined hockey all season and blossomed into an excellent role player. The Flyers will likely be holding onto him.

    Key Non-Roster Free Agents

    Erik Gustafsson, Eric Wellwood, Brandon Manning

    Flyers' general manager Paul Holmgren will try to sign all three of these players, especially Gustafsson and Manning for needed-defensive depth. Additionally, Wellwood could be trade bait for the Flyers, but the team will most likely look to invest in him for the future. 

Should Remain in Philly

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    The following players are most likely to survive the trade deadline and remain in Philadelphia:

    Claude Giroux - The Flyers captain is signed through the 2013-2014, and despite a down season for the super star (28 points in 31 games), G will remain the man in Philly. Re-signing him will be a priority.

    Jakub Voracek - Voracek proved to be an essential player with the Flyers this season and elevated his play to the next level. Philly has him locked through the 2015-2016 season.

    Ilya Bryzgalov - Bryz has played well this season despite constant criticism and little reserve help. His high salary and reputation will send all buyers running at the trade deadline. It's time the Flyers build a defense to support their high-profile netminder.

    Schenn Bros. (Brayden and Luke) - The Flyers will likely invest in both brothers for the future, although signing B. Schenn and Giroux after the 2013-2014 season will not be an easy task. For now, the brothers remain in Philadelphia.

    Kimmo Timonen - Timonen, 38, signed a monster one-year extension to remain in Philadelphia and retire a Flyer. The team did overpay for his services, but desperate times call for desperate measures. No other team will pick up his tab.

    Scott Hartnell - Hartnell has not played the same since his injury early in the season. Despite his recent demotion, the star veteran will remain a Flyer.

    Wayne Simmonds - Simmonds' play cooled down in the month of March after his red-hot February. The hard-nosed forward figures to be an integral part of the Flyers' future.

    Sean Couturier - It's very apparent that Sean Couturier is knee-deep into a sophomore slump. With only seven points in 29 games, the defensive center has struggled to develop into a two-way player. Yet, the Flyers believe in his potential and will likely evaluate him for, at least, another season. 

Potential Movers

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    If the Flyers were to make a move by the trade deadline, here are a couple players who could be moving zip codes:

    Matt Read - Matt Read's return from a severe upper body injury may have turned some heads throughout the league or enough to peak interest at the deadline. Read's contract also ends after the 2013-2014 season—the same as Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Tye McGinn and Andrej Meszaros.

    It will be hard for the Flyers to re-sign every player, and currently, Read would require the most talent in return. According to CBC Sports, the Calgary Flames could potentially be interested in the young forward.

    If Philly does any business with Calgary, know that Flames assistant GM John Weisbrod has chased Read for years.

    Additionally, The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch, reported the Ottawa Senators are seeking a top-six forward, although no specific deal has been rumored with Philadelphia.

    Max Talbot - Talbot would bring any team playoff experience and locker-room chemistry. It would be tough for the Flyers to lose a player like Talbot, but Philly is desperate and may look to unload its veteran player.

    The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson, recently wrote an article suggesting the Edmonton Oilers should consider pursuing Talbot at the deadline.

    The Edmonton Oilers absolutely should go after Philadelphia Flyers forward Max Talbot. Stanley Cup pedigree and only age 29. Has some personality, plays hard, and even if he has three years left on his deal, it’s only $1.75 million a year.

    Danny Briere - Danny Briere has been linked to numerous trade rumors this season, and all have been either denied or false. With a no-movement clause in his contract, Briere is set on staying put in Philadelphia for both personal and business reasons.

    Now that the aging veteran has suffered a concussion, it will be much more difficult to move him. But if he can recover quickly, a bubble team may try and pry him away from Philly to bulk up its postseason roster. 

    Ruslan Fedotenko - As mentioned earlier, Fedotenko could help a team seeking playoff experience and special-teams play. With his contract ending after this season, it's likely the Flyers will let him walk, but any teams looking for a short-term-rental player might look his way. No trade rumors have been linked to the veteran forward.

    Simon Gagne - Much like Fedotenko, Gagne could be a rental player for bubble or playoff caliber teams. The recent Stanley Cup champion would provide veteran leadership and locker-room chemistry to many teams. It would be sad to see Gagne leave (again), but hockey is a cruel business at times.

Team Needs

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    The Philadelphia Flyers have glaring weaknesses in its lineup and need to quickly address all issues to save the direction of the franchise. With roughly $2.25 million in cap space next season, the Flyers will not have many options during the offseason—unless they buyout Briere's bloated contract.

    Shutdown Defender

    The teams number-one goal for next season is to own a shutdown blueliner. Philadelphia proved its defense is weak even with Kimmo Timonen, Luke Schenn and Andrej Meszaros in the lineup.

    If the Flyers can trade for a long-term defender by the deadline, general manager Paul Holmgren may need to pull the trigger. If not, the team must hope for a solid defender in the draft or work some magic in the offseason. Either way, this issue needs to be addressed. 

    Backup Goalie

    Goaltenders Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton have been non-existent this season. With Bryz playing in 30 of 32 games this year and running on fumes, a backup goalie must be considered.

    Both current reserve goalies will be free agents next season, and with little cap space, the team may be forced to re-sign the lesser of two evils until a suitable replacement is found for Bryzgalov.

    Offensive Sniper

    The Flyers have struggled scoring goals this season. The team is currently ranked 18th in the league for average goals per game, and with a lowly defense, it's a recipe for disaster.

    In 10 games this month, Philadelphia has only scored 20 goals—losing seven of those games in the process. With the exception of Jake Voracek, the Flyers lack a serious scoring machine.

Potential Targets (Rumors)

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    Dan Boyle, D - The latest trade rumor linked to the Flyers has been San Jose Sharks veteran defender Dan Boyle (via CSN Philly's Tim Panaccio).

    The 36-year-old player is still a major weapon on defense and would be an immediate upgrade for the team. But he won't come cheap with one year remaining on his contract and a cap hit of $6.6 million—the Flyers would have one of the highest paid and oldest blueliner duos in Boyle and Timonen.

    Boyle also has a no-trade clause in his contract, which could be an issue with the Flyers. Still, Philadelphia would like to acquire a defender for multiple seasons, and Boyle may be their guy.

    Keith Yandle, D - Yandle may be a stretch at the deadline but would be a perfect fit for the Flyers. The Phoenix Coyotes recently signed defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson through 2018-2019, possibly making Yandle expendable. Also, Phoenix will be asking for a lot in return—maybe more than Philly can offer. 

    Jay Bouwmeester, D - According to The Calgary Sun's Randy Sportak, the Flyers have interest in the Calgary Flames young defender. Bouwmeester's name has been linked to Philadelphia for a couple seasons, and with the Flames aiming to re-build for the future, the timing may now be perfect.

    He does have one year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $6.68 million, meaning he won't come cheap. Lastly, Bouwmeester has a no-trade clause, granting him final say.