Breaking Down the Biggest Philadelphia Flyers Trade Rumors
With the 2014 Winter Olympics now complete, the hockey universe can once again turn its attention back to the NHL.
When regular-season action resumes on Tuesday, 22 of the league's 30 clubs will find themselves either inside the league's top 16 or within just two points of the postseason's final two spots.
One of those teams that's been flirting with the playoff line for most of the season is the Philadelphia Flyers. A brutal start is ancient history for the Orange and Black, who will re-enter play Thursday riding a season-long four-game winning streak and now sit just one point back of the second-place New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division.
But Philadelphia is far from perfect and will be one of a host of squads looking to improve itself in advance of the trade deadline on March 5.
With that, here's a look at the biggest trade rumors currently surrounding the Flyers.
General manager Paul Holmgren and the Flyers have coveted Nashville Predators defenseman and captain Shea Weber for several years now.
Philadelphia nearly had the three-time All-Star and recent gold medal Olympian back in 2012 when the Orange and Black inked Weber to a massive 14-year, $110 million contract only to see the traditionally frugal Predators match the lucrative offer.
But it's that exorbitant agreement that has Weber once again linked with the Flyers.
CSNPhilly.com Flyers Insider Tim Panaccio recently speculated that Predators, who have stockpiled young blueliners Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Michael Del Zotto and Seth Jones, might be willing to entertain offers for their franchise defender. And if so, Philly would most certainly be interested.
The reality, however, is that this is a deal that likely won't even be considered until the NHL draft.
The Predators are currently only four points back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference and can use Weber to try and make a run this year before entertaining offers for him in advance of next season. In addition, Nashville will want assets (draft picks, prospects) in return for Weber, which can be garnered just as easily in June without sacrificing this season in the process.
Expect this rumor to persist, but don't put much stock in it for now.
Both Holmgren and assistant GM Ron Hextall attended Edmonton's game against the New Jersey Devils in advance of the Olympic break and could be possibly be interested in forwards Jordan Eberle or Ales Hemsky.
Hemsky will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end, while Eberle has five years remaining on the six-year, $36 million contract he signed in advance of this season. The Oilers have had a dreadful season and are currently in last place in the Western Conference and will likely use the next few weeks to position themselves for next year.
Edmonton expressed interest in Philadelphia defenseman Braydon Coburn last summer, and it's Coburn who would likely be desired by the Oilers in any sort of swap with the Flyers. It's unlikely a potential rising star like Eberle will be moved, but look for Hemsky and his expiring contract to find their way out of Edmonton before March 5.
Just not to Philadelphia.
The Flyers could use a roster boost for the playoff push, but Hemsky isn't the answer. Philly needs help on the back end, not another offensive-minded winger. The Orange and Black are loaded with blossoming offensive talents and shouldn't consider for one minute moving defensive assets for an offensive rental player.
On the surface, this doesn't appear to be much more than Philly simply doing its due diligence in surveying all the potential assets that could be available in the weeks to come. But it becomes increasingly more interesting when paired with a report from Sporting News in early January, which outlines how the Flyers could have had Coyotes defender Keith Yandle in the summer of 2012 in exchange for James van Riemsdyk instead of Toronto's Luke Schenn.
Could Philadelphia be looking to right a wrong from 18 months ago?
Yandle has just two years remaining on a five-year, $26.25 million contract, which carries an annual cap hit of $5.75 million. Phoenix's financial difficulties are well-documented, and it would stand to reason the Coyotes would be willing to drop the remaining nearly $12 million owed to the 27-year-old blueliner if the right package was presented.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, that package would likely involve some combination of Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton and the team's first-round pick in the 2014 NHL draft. Yandle is a solid player who is currently third on Phoenix's roster in scoring but likely isn't worth what Philadelphia would have to surrender to secure his services.
The Flyers will not only be looking to add pieces but could also be looking to move bodies in exchange for assets in advance of the trade deadline.
Andrej Meszaros is one name that could certainly be bandied about in such negotiations.
The 28-year-old blueliner is in the midst of the final year of a six-year, $24 million contract and could be a solid addition for teams looking to acquire some defensive depth.
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty noted Meszaros as a possible replacement for Dennis Seidenberg, who is lost for the season with a torn ACL/MCL in his right knee. Meszaros, who has chipped in four goals and 16 points in just 35 games this year, could help to replace some of Seidenberg's lost offense, but he would be a far cry in terms of a defensive substitute for the veteran blueliner.
Philadelphia will look to avoid moving Meszaros within the conference if at all possible, but the club will also want to claim whatever compensation it can for a player who doesn't appear to be part of the club's long-term plans.