Why Flyers Should Become NHL Trade Deadline Sellers After Rangers Loss
From a mathematical standpoint, the Flyers (13-17-2, 14th in East) have not been eliminated from playoff contention, but to reach the postseason, they need to win almost all of their 16 remaining games in addition to the teams above them playing .500 hockey or worse in the final five weeks of the season.
According to Sports Club Stats, the Flyers have just a 2.7 percent chance of making the playoffs.
Even if the Flyers made a historic late-season run and earned one of the final few playoff seeds in the Eastern Conference, they would be defeated in the first round by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins or Montreal Canadiens in four or five games.
Giving up draft picks, prospects or young NHL players to make the playoffs would be a huge mistake by general manager Paul Holmgren.
It's time for Philadelphia to become sellers at the trade deadline and prepare for the lottery pick they will get in the 2013 NHL Draft, which will be a very important selection for this franchise given its lack of prospect depth and talent at the NCAA, CHL and AHL levels.
Unfortunately for Holmgren, he does not have many veterans with value that could be moved for prospects and/or draft picks.
Unless Philadelphia would entertain trading young players such as Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek or Wayne Simmonds, which seems highly unlikely, it will be difficult for Holmgren to acquire top prospects or high draft picks at this year's deadline.
However, if the Flyers are able to stockpile picks for the upcoming draft class, which is full of depth and talent in the first three rounds, moving some veterans wouldn't be a bad idea.
One player that the Flyers could dangle in the trade market is Maxime Talbot, who would be an ideal fit for a contending team that needs grit, scoring and playoff experience on its third or fourth lines. Talbot won a Stanley Cup in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Penguins and scored both goals in the team's 2-1 Game 7 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in the Cup Final.
General managers will be hesitant to take on salary beyond this season when the salary cap lowers to $64.3 million for 2013-14, but Talbot's cap hit is just $1.75 million for the next three years, which is a tremendous value for the skills he bring to the ice each game.
If the Flyers could receive a young prospect or a valuable draft pick(s) in return for Talbot, they should consider moving him before the deadline.
The Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks are three contenders that could use a player like Talbot for the playoffs, and each of these clubs has defensive depth they could offer in return.
Trying to trade veteran forward Danny Briere would also be a smart move for the Flyers, but he was just diagnosed with a concussion (via Dan Rosen of NHL.com), which will likely result in him staying in Philly for the rest of the season unless his condition improves over the next week.
Despite their lack of depth on the blue line, Braydon Coburn is another player that the Flyers should try to trade before the deadline, although it would be surprising if there was a lot of interest in him.
The 28-year-old defenseman is having a terrible season with just five points in 32 games, a plus/minus rating of minus-11 and a team-leading 31 giveaways.
A young player that the Flyers could put on the trading block is Couturier, who has gone through a disappointing sophomore season after emerging as an important player in his rookie year.
It would probably take a significant return for Philadelphia to trade the 20-year-old center, who is one of the Flyers' best young players of the future. But he's also one of the most valuable assets that Holmgren has to acquire the top-pairing defenseman his team has desperately needed since Chris Pronger was injured in October of 2011.
Should the Flyers trade Couturier for a defenseman before next season?
Without any top defensive prospects or young stars on the blue line at the NHL level, the Flyers will have to use their impressive forward depth to upgrade their blue line before next season because the upcoming free agent class (via Capgeek) does not include any elite defenseman.
Trading a few veterans for some draft picks and capitalizing on the talent in this year's draft would be a smart strategy for the Flyers, especially since there are plenty of defensemen in this class that project to be quality NHL players.
The 2013 season has been a disappointing one for the Flyers, and even though they are one of the most dedicated franchises in the league in regards to being competitive each season, the best decision for management to make is to forget about the playoffs and build for next year and beyond.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter. He was a credentialed reporter at the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and 2012 NHL playoffs in Boston.
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