Philadelphia Flyers' Biggest Needs Ahead of the Trade Deadline

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IFebruary 25, 2014

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 8: Trevor Daley #6 of the Dallas Stars handles the puck against the Phoenix Coyotes at the American Airlines Center on February 8, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
Glenn James/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers have a lot of talent on their roster, but there is plenty of room to improve as well. With the trade deadline approaching, general manager Paul Holmgren will have to assess what their biggest needs are.

The Flyers have a lot of things going on right now in terms of contracts, salary and team need. There are lots of potential moving parts, and the Flyers could be both buyers and sellers at the deadline.

The most pressing and obvious need is that of a legitimate first-pairing defenseman. Right now, the Flyers don't have any true top guys.

Braydon Coburn can log a lot of minutes and is a big, strong veteran presence out there, but he isn't much offensively and isn't dynamic at all.

Mark Streit and Kimmo Timonen are both veterans who are offensively gifted, but Timonen is slowing down quickly and Streit can be a liability in his own end.

Andrej Meszaros is actually probably the closest thing the Flyers have a to a legitimate two-way talent right now, but he isn't complete or consistent enough in either end to carry the load.

While fans will clamor for a big name like Keith Yandle or even Shea Weber, per CSNPhilly's Tim Panaccio (h/t Post-to-Post's Lyle Richardson), they are just unreasonable targets at this stage.

The Flyers would have to grossly overpay for a guy like that, and frankly, they actually might not need them. Philadelphia has a lot of talent waiting in the wings.

Samuel Morin and Robert Hagg were drafted last June to be the future of the blue line, and Morin came close to making the team as a rookie. He's got a legitimate shot to be in orange and black next year.

Shayne Gostisbehere has also been generating a lot of buzz in his junior season at Union College. The stud offensive defenseman could end up being convinced to leave school early next season.

So the Flyers actually don't necessarily need to overpay for a top-pairing guy. They very well could have one (or two or three) who are just a couple years away from being there.

That being said, there are still plenty of names that could make sense for the Flyers at the deadline to fill some needs on defense.

Their biggest need is a talented puck-moving defenseman who can get the puck up the ice and generate some offense. Dustin Byfuglien was mentioned by Eklund over at HockeyBuzz, and is an ideal offensive defenseman candidate.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 06:  Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Winnipeg Jets controls the puck in the first period during an NHL game against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on February 6, 2014 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI vi
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Winnipeg Jet would make a lot of sense, even though he's signed through the 2015-16 season at $5.25 million a year. That's a pretty hefty contract for a guy who's already 28 years old.

The Flyers also need a solid 30-and-under veteran who could be a good third or fourth defenseman and log consistent minutes, but who is not inept offensively like Nicklas Grossmann or Luke Schenn.

Trevor Daley was another name thrown out by Eklund, and who fits that bill nicely. At $3.3 million per year through 2016-17, he'd be a reasonable, albeit very unexciting, acquisition.

Finally, Andrew MacDonald of the Islanders could be a really interesting target. He's at the end of a very modest $550,000 per-year contract and the New York Post's Brett Cyrgalis reported that MacDonald turned down a big four-year, $16 million deal.

With John Tavares out for the season, the Islanders will be sellers, and will be likely looking to move MacDonald before his contract is up. A late-blooming workhorse of a player, the 27-year-old would be an ideal acquisition for Philadelphia.

The Flyers don't have any other pressing acquisition needs other than upgrading their defense. They do have a "need" in a sense, however, to figure out what the market is for some of their forwards.

Scott Hartnell is playing a lot better and could potentially be on the block this offseason. The Flyers also may try to move one of their talented young centers.

The fact of the matter is that there just isn't enough room for Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton and Nick Cousins on the roster for next season.

Couturier is safe. He's been one of the Flyers' best players this year. But don't be surprised if one of those other names is floated out there ahead of the deadline to see what the return could be.

If the Flyers are going to make a splash this offseason, Schenn or Laughton will likely have to be a part of it. They need to figure out what those players' futures are in the next couple weeks.