As every hockey fan knows, August is perhaps the worst month of the year. Usually by the time August rolls around teams have already signed all of their players, restricted free-agent defensemen notwithstanding evidently, as well as have made any trades they plan on making. So at this point all there is for hockey fans to do is wait for September to arrive so that we can all watch our favorite teams go to camp, and hope whatever moves our teams have made were the correct ones in order to move toward a Stanley Cup victory.
Well in this seemingly dead period in the league I have decided to propose a few trades for the Flyers to try to round out their roster. As I was coming up with these trades I set some rules for myself; as in I won't use the same player for multiple trades.
Now I admittedly am not an expert on the values that all specific teams would place on their respective players, but I tried my best to come up with some feasible trades. You may disagree, and that's fine, feel free to tell me that you think a trade in lopsided; or if you like any of the trades, thanks, feel free to comment on that as well.
So without any further adieu, let's get started...
Edmonton receives: D - Matt Carle
Philadelphia receives: C - Sam Gagner
Matt Carle: Carle is a solid puck-moving defenseman who plays on the Flyers first pairing alongside Chris Pronger. He is more of an offensive defenseman, though he is no slouch on the defensive end, and he has scored 40 points twice and 35 points once in five full seasons. He also put to rest any comments about his inability to play at a high level with Pronger, as his statistics improved in the 20+ games in which he was paired with Andrej Meszaros while Pronger was injured.
Sam Gagner: Gagner, who was the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, is a playmaking center who has yet to live up to his draft position. He has yet to break the 50 point mark in a season, in fact his highest point total remains his rookie year in which he posted 49 points (13 G, 36 A). Although his point production has remained in the 40s through the first four seasons of his career, he has consistently improved on the defensive end of the ice and is no longer considered to be a liability without the puck. There are some who believe that Gagner's game would be better suited as a playmaking winger due to his lack of size (5'11" 190 pounds).
Edmonton's perspective: The Oilers are loaded with young and talented forwards in their system, and if that talent grows together could make the Oilers a legitimate playoff team by 2014. With guys like Shawn Horcoff, Gilbert Brule and 2011 first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins the Oilers seem to have a logjam of centers, of which Sam Gagner could find himself on the outside looking in.
Though as talented as the Oilers appear to be up front, the exact opposite is true about their blue-line. With the exception of Ryan Whitney, and possibly Theo Peckham, the Oilers seem to have a team full of third pairing defenders.
If this trade were completed I would imagine that the Oilers would put Matt Carle on their second defensive pairing, possibly alongside Theo Peckham.
Philadelphia's perspective: The Flyers appear to be a well put together team, a little young and unproven up front, but extremely talented nonetheless.
But where the Flyers' strength lies is in the fact that the team boasts five top-4 defenseman, potentially six with rising star Erik Gustafsson. Though in the NHL these days the salary cap is always looming large and with James van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek, Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle all entering the final year of their contracts something has to give. And with the depth on the blue-line it will likely mean either Coburn or Carle will be forced out.
If this trade were completed I could see the Flyers attempting to move Sam Gagner to the wing on Danny Briere's line, as I believe that Gagner could replicate the style of play of Ville Leino, at a much cheaper price.
Phoenix receives: G - Sergei Bobrovsky
Philadelphia receives: D - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Sergei Bobrovsky: Bobrovsky was signed out of Russia's KHL by the Flyers prior to the 2010-11 season. He was expected to play a season or two in the AHL and then move up to the NHL to be the Flyers' goaltender of the future. But an injury to Michael Leighton and an amazing camp by Bobrovsky earned him not only a spot on the roster, but the job of opening night starter. He started out the season exceptionally well before ultimately wearing down over the long season due to the fact that he had never played more than 35 games in a season in the KHL. Still he finished the season with good numbers (28-13-8, 2.59 GAA, .915 SV %). Bob has shown the tools necessary to potentially become a legitimate No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson: OEL, the sixth pick in the 2009 NHL draft, is considered one of the smoothest skating defenders in the league. He played in 48 games with Phoenix last season, his first, posting 11 points (1 G, 10 A) giving just a hint at the talent he possesses. He currently measures in at 6'2" 190 pounds, the height is there though he needs to put on some weight to stop some of the bigger forwards in the league.
Phoenix perspective: The Coyotes have good depth on the blue-line, headlined by All-Star Keith Yandle. Not to mention upcoming players Brandon Gormley and Chris Summers, giving them a glut of talent both now and in the future.
However Phoenix is in serious trouble between the pipes with the loss of Ilya Bryzgalov. They went out and acquired Mike Smith at the start of free agency this year, though no one can expect him to come remotely close to the production of Bryzgalov. Where Bryzgalov put up fantastic numbers for a Coyotes team that constantly struggled to score goals; Smith struggled with the contending Lightning and had to be replaced by Dwayne Roloson.
The reason Phoenix lost Bryzgalov is because they are struggling financially and couldn't afford him.
So if this trade were completed than Phoenix would get Bobrovsky to come in and immediately take over as their starting goalie, as well as give Phoenix a young inexpensive player that they would control for years to come.
Philadelphia perspective: The Flyers don't need help on the blue-line, they actually probably need to lose a defenseman. But the chance to acquire OEL may be to good to pass up.
The Flyers are also in a position where after having just given Ilya Bryzgalov a nine-year $51 million contract, that Bobrovsky would be the second highest paid back-up goalie in the league. And for a team like the Flyers who constantly spend up to the salary cap, that is just not feasible.
If this trade were completed I think the Flyers would find a spot for OEL, probably leading to a trade of one of their top five defensemen. Also with OEL still having two more years on his entry-level contact the Flyers wouldn't have to worry about resigning him until after Kimmo Timonen's $6.3 million cap hit comes off the books.
Toronto receives: C - Danny Briere, 2012 2nd round pick
Philadelphia receives: D - Luke Schenn
Danny Briere: Briere is an example of the type of player that the post-lockout NHL rules were made for. A small, quick center with great vision Briere was second on the Flyers with 68 points last season, including a career-high 34 goals. Add that to an astounding +/- rating of 20 and it's clear the diminutive center has still got plenty of gas left in the tank.
As a side note, Briere has a No Movement Clause and would have to approve any deal.
Luke Schenn: Schenn, the fifth overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, is the definition of a stay-at-home defenseman. At 6'2" 229 pounds, Schenn is an intimidating force of the Leafs' blue-line. In his three years in the NHL he has consistently ranked among the league leaders in hits and shots blocked. Though not known for his offensive abilities, Schenn has the potential for around 25-30 points a season.
Toronto perspective: The Maple Leafs are absolutely loaded on blue-line. With Dion Phaneuf, Keith Aulie, Carl Gunnarsson, Mike Komisarek, Matt Lashoff and the two newcomers Cody Franson and John-Michael Liles the Leafs have seven NHL level defensemen (not including Schenn).
However the one thing the Leafs have lacked for years now is a true first-line center. They currently have Tim Connolly, and his apparent predilection towards concussions, penciled in as their top-line center.
If this trade were completed, Briere would immediately become Toronto's top-line center.
Philadelphia perspective: The Flyers have a great set of defensemen, although Luke Schenn would probably be an upgrade over everyone of the Flyers' defensemen except for a healthy Chris Pronger and Andrej Meszaros. And just as with a potential OEL deal, the acquisition of Schenn would inevitably lead to the Flyers moving one of their current defensemen.
With the Flyers having already traded away their third and fourth leading scorers, trading Briere may be too much for their forwards to overcome. And ultimately the driving force behind moving Briere would be to clear his remaining four years at an annual cap hit of $6.5 million. With JVR, Voracek, Coburn, and Carle all in the final year of their contracts the Flyers will need to find money somewhere. Another factor with moving Briere is the fact that the within the next year or two the Flyers will need room for Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier down the middle.