If you’ve spent enough time over the past week cruising Philadelphia Flyers message boards or viewing the reader’s comments at the bottom of news stories covering the Brendan Shanahan rumors, you've probably come away with the assumption that the Flyers fan base is divided.
For those fans who like the idea of Shanahan pulling an orange and black sweater over his head, the discussion usually centers around the Hall of Fame bound left wing’s scoring touch (still present at age 39), along with his three Stanley Cup rings, and the addition of his leadership qualities in the locker room of a team adrift in the standings this year.
For fans opposed to the thought of Shanahan possibly ending his career as a Philadelphia Flyer, many point to the fact that the Flyers have other more pressing areas of concern—namely a shaky blue line that has struggled in its own end this season.
Other fans lament the brief and fruitless Philadelphia tenures of Hall of Fame players at the end of their career such as Paul Coffey and Adam Oats (both of which were trades— Shanahan is currently an unrestricted free agent), and wonder what the point is?
Others worry that Shanahan would take away opportunities for younger, up-and-coming players such as Andreas Nodl or Claude Giroux.
While I can see the merits of each argument, it’s my opinion that the Flyers would do well to pounce on Shanahan. Listed below are four reasons why Flyers fans should feel the same way.
He’s Still Got It
Brendan Shanahan has scored less than 20 goals just once in his twenty-year career. That season was his 1987-1988 rookie campaign with the New Jersey Devils, where he scored seven goals.
Even at the age of 39, Shanahan finished the 2007-2008 season with the New York Rangers with 23 goals and another 23 assists.
To those who would point out that the Flyers don’t need more goals but more defense, my reply is as follows—six of Philadelphia’s nine losses were either by one goal or in overtime. Sounds like the Flyers need just a few more goals to get them over the hump.
Bang for the Buck
Shanahan is thought to be looking for a salary in excess of $1 million—which is a bargain for a player who has potted 20 or more goals in 19 consecutive seasons. The closest 20-goal scorer with salary in that neighborhood on the Flyers roster is Joffery Lupul at $2.3 million.
With the Flyers' cap room set at a little over $800,000, does anyone really think the Flyers will address their blue line without moving significant roster players? At the price, Shanahan is a steal.
Buy Low. Sell High
Alright, worst case scenario time; Shanahan’s presence on the ice does little to reverse the fortunes of the Flyers this season, and as the trade dead line approaches, Philadelphia’s playoff hopes look all but out of reach.
The Flyers would certainly have some Eastern teams banging on their door for the rental services of one Brendan Shanahan.
For an investment somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million, the Flyers could possibly seek a high pick or prospects in return for a player who costs them nothing more than the money they paid him (which at that point would be pro-rated, as the Flyers would not be on the hook for remaining salary).
That Eighth Playoff Slot
The Flyers are in a dogfight in the Atlantic Division. Do fans really want the teams the Flyers will be fighting tooth and nail with for that eighth and final playoff slot in the East to get even better—when Shanny can be had for a song? Think about what's being left on the table in that scenario.
Shanahan is said to be giving Philadelphia serious consideration. If his salary demands are indeed reasonable, and the Flyers do not need to do anything other than open their wallets to get him, Brendan Shanahan can help this team.
Whether the Flyers make the playoffs or not.