This article originally appeared on PhillyFanComplex.com
With the news the Flyers created around $2 million in cap space by waiving the heavily-tattooed healthy scratch Riley Cote and placing the equally-tattooed injury-prone Ray Emery on long-term injured reserve, it is expected the team will make a move before Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline.
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren seems to be on a constant search for defensemen, either of the bruising or puck-moving variety, but the biggest need this team has is consistent goal scoring.
It’s not for a lack of talent the Flyers cannot score goals on a regular basis—the team had six 30-goal scorers last season, and though they lost two of them in the offseason, there is no reason Danny Briere, Claude Giroux, and James van Riemsdyk could not pick up the slack left from Joffrey Lupul and Mike Knuble’s departure.
Of course, the team’s offense was counting on the four remaining 30-goal scorers to repeat their production. Simon Gagne will be extremely lucky to get to 15 goals this season, and Scott Hartnell would be hard-pressed to reach 20. Mike Richards and Briere have outside chances to reach 30 goals, and Jeff Carter will likely pass 30, but it seems to be a rather hollow number, considering his streakiness.
The biggest loss this team experienced in the offseason was the departure of Mike Knuble, which has seriously affected the production of both Gagne and Richards.
Holmgren easily could have re-signed Knuble, but felt the money was more wisely spent on Chris Pronger and retooling of the team’s bottom-six forwards. He deserves credit for bringing in Pronger, Ian Laperriere, and Blair Betts, all of whom have been key players this season. Now, he must fix the top line.
Some reports out there have the team in talks to acquire Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis. The Predators acquired Denis Grebeshkov from Edmonton on Monday, supposedly setting the table to deal Hamhuis, a pending free agent. Ryan Parent is said to be drawing interest from Nashville , the team that dealt him to the Flyers three years ago as part of the Peter Forsberg trade.
Among other names mentioned by CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio are Atlanta winger Colby Armstrong and a pair of Columbus players, forward Raffi Torres and defenseman Milan Jurcina. Armstrong would seem to be a perfect fit alongside Richards and Gagne, while Torres could also be a valuable pickup. Jurcina, however, is a poor man’s Braydon Coburn—which means we’re talking Haitian poor.
Semi-surprisingly is the news the team is not expected to add a goaltender, an obvious signal Peter Laviolette is ready to ride Michael Leighton into the playoffs. If he falters, they can hope Emery is healthy—or pray for Brian Boucher circa 2001. Or, simply bow out in the first round again.
Only 42 hours remain until the deadline, with the Flyers playing one game before deciding what their team will look like for the rest of the season. Tuesday night in Tampa will not decide their fate, but what they do leading up to Wednesday at 3 p.m. very well could.