5 Potential Trade Destinations for Flyers Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere
The Philadelphia Flyers made a surprising move Tuesday when they placed Shayne Gostisbehere on waivers. After going unclaimed by the 30 other NHL teams, Sportsnet reported the 27-year-old defenseman became eligible to be assigned to the Flyers' taxi squad. He can be moved between the roster and taxi squad without waivers for 30 days or until he plays 10 more games.
Gostisbehere was an invaluable member of the Flyers defense earlier in this career. A skilled puck-moving blueliner, he was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2015-16 following a 17-goal, 46-point performance. Two years later, he tallied a career-best 65 points.
Since then, however, Gostisbehere's production has declined. He followed a 37-point effort in 2018-19 with a career-low 12 points in 42 games last season as he struggled through injuries. While his offensive output improved this season with 11 points in 25 games, he was scratched from three games in March.
The change in Gostisbehere's status could turn him into a trade candidate. On Wednesday, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jordan Hall reported that Gostisbehere's name has surfaced in trade rumors over the past two trade deadlines and offseasons. He speculated Gostisbehere could come up again in the rumor mill as the April 12 trade deadline approaches.
Perhaps general manager Chuck Fletcher will attempt to use Gostisbehere as trade bait for a netminder. On Tuesday, TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported management had discussed adding a goaltender to allow the struggling Carter Hart time to reset.
Teams might covet Gostisbehere's offensive skills, but his contract could be a sticking point. He's signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $4.5 million. That could be difficult to move with the salary cap expected to remain at $81.5 million for next season.
Nevertheless, there could be a team willing to consider Gostisbehere. Here are five possible destinations.
The offseason departures of Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara left the Boston Bruins depleted of experience and skill on the left side of their blue line. Gostisbehere could help them address those issues over the remainder of this season and perhaps the foreseeable future.
On March 27, The Athletic's Fluto Shinzawa reported Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was seeking a right winger and help on defense. Boston believes more offense will come if it has cleaner breakouts from its zone. Shinzawa suggested Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm would fit that profile.
Ekholm, however, might not be available with the Predators surging into playoff contention in the Central Division. Sweeney could be forced to consider other blue-line options such as Gostisbehere. He could offer a draft pick or perhaps a depth forward such as Anders Bjork whom the Flyers could put toward acquiring a goalie.
Gostisbehere's $4.5 million salary-cap hit, however, will be a stumbling block. The Bruins have $8.4 million in trade deadline cap space, but some of that will be needed to acquire a scoring winger. If Sweeney stuck to just Gostisbehere, he could insist the Flyers pick up part of the tab.
Mired at the bottom of the league, the Buffalo Sabres appear to be in sell mode at the trade deadline. They have already made one significant move, shipping Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens. General manager Kevyn Adams could also attempt to move pending unrestricted free agents such as left winger Taylor Hall and defenseman Brandon Montour.
While Adams could stage a trade deadline fire sale, he might also have an eye on the future. The Sabres could seek a replacement for Montour with some term on his contract. Acquiring Gostisbehere would alleviate the need for Adams to seek Montour's replacement via this summer's trade or free-agent market.
While the Sabres have $2 million in trade deadline cap space, they can free up more by moving Hall and Montour for draft picks and prospects. Adams could also try to convince the Flyers to pick up part of Gostisbehere's cap hit.
Adams could also use the one or two draft picks he gets for Hall and/or Montour before deadline day toward an offer for Gostisbehere. If the Flyers seek a short-term goalie option, he could also suggest pending unrestricted free agent Carter Hutton, though the Flyers might prefer Linus Ullmark.
The Florida Panthers blue line suffered a serious blow when Aaron Ekblad was sidelined Sunday for 12 weeks with a fractured left leg. That could put general manager Bill Zito in the market for a defenseman.
Gostisbehere won't replace Ekblad's big minutes and all-around skills. His speed and puck-moving abilities, however, could help to offset the loss of Ekblad's offense.
On Monday, Florida Hockey Now's George Richards reported Zito was in the market for a top-four defenseman prior to Ekblad's injury. The following day, TSN's Frank Seravalli wondered if Zito would put in a waiver claim for Gostisbehere.
The Panthers have $14.5 million in trade deadline cap space, but Zito could be unwilling to fully take on Gostisbehere's $4.5 million cap hit. Perhaps he would have more interest if the Flyers agreed to pick up part of it. With the Panthers having signed promising goalie Spencer Knight, the Flyers could attempt to swap Gostisbehere (and retain some salary) for netminder Chris Driedger.
The Canadiens need an experienced left-side defenseman who skates well, moves the puck quickly out of their zone and can join the rush. Gostisbehere could address those needs.
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has a reputation for making bold moves. He acquired goaltender Jake Allen, defenseman Joel Edmundson and forwards Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli and Corey Perry through trades and free agency this offseason. On March 26, he traded two draft picks to the Sabres for veteran center Eric Staal.
Bergevin carries considerable depth in draft picks with nine in the second through fifth rounds of this year's draft. The Canadiens could dangle one or two of those to the Flyers, who in turn could use them as trade bait to acquire a goaltender or address other needs.
Gostisbehere's $4.5 million annual average salary, however, is a problem. The Canadiens possess only $447,912 in trade deadline cap space. Even if Philadelphia picked up half of Gostisbehere's salary, Montreal couldn't afford him unless Bergevin shipped the Flyers another player or made a separate cost-cutting deal.
Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff made the biggest trade of the year. On Jan. 23, he shipped Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Pierre-Luc Dubois and a draft pick.
On March 15, Sportsnet's Ken Wiebe reported Cheveldayoff remained open to making a move before the trade deadline. Perhaps the Jets GM has an eye on Gostisbehere.
Bolstering Winnipeg's blue-line depth could be Cheveldayoff's priority. Wiebe noted the Jets have been linked to defensemen such as Mattias Ekholm of the Predators and David Savard of the Columbus Blue Jackets. A skilled puck-mover such as Gostisbehere could also be a tempting target.
The Jets can exceed the cap ceiling by $3.5 million with Bryan Little on long-term injured reserve. Still, the Flyers would probably have to pick up part of Gostisbehere's cap hit to make the dollars fit. Cheveldayoff could also prefer a rental player such as Savard over a player with term such as Gostisbehere to avoid conflict with his protection list for this summer's expansion draft.
Salary information via CapFriendly.