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Friedman: Flyers and Sabres could be trade partners

With Brian Elliott out 5-6 weeks, Philadelphia could look to acquire a goalie

February 13, 2018 - 4:50 pm
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Joe DiBiase reporting
@DiBiaseWGR

 

We're less than two weeks away from the NHL Trade Deadline, which will come on Monday, February 26th. Evander Kane is still in a Buffalo Sabres uniform, and there has yet to be a major trade made around the league. Generally, this is the time of year that reports and rumors start heating up. Sportnet's Elliotte Friedman is one of many insiders fans will be following over the next few weeks. 

In his popular "31 Thoughts" piece on sportsnet.ca, Friedman had this on the Sabres and Flyers.
 

"I can’t pin it down, but a few teams suspected there was some traction between Buffalo and Philadelphia. Their two AHL teams, Lehigh Valley and Rochester, met last Saturday. It sounds like it depends on if the Flyers’ wish to buy, and they woke up Wednesday five points into the playoffs."


The Flyers are currently third in the Metropolitan Division. They're one point behind the Penguins for second, five points behind the Capitals for the division lead, and five points clear of Columbus and the Islanders for a playoff spot. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall will likely look to buy at this years' trade deadline.

Some of Philadelphia's best players are aging. Claude Giroux is 30, Jakub Voracek is 28, starting goalie Brian Elliott is 32, and Wayne Simmonds is 29. However, their supporting cast is young. In fact, the Flyers are the sixth youngest team in the NHL. It's a great opportunity for them to capitalize on the prime of their veterans' careers, while also getting production from their next wave. So if the Flyers and Sabres do end up trying to trade with each other, what could Philadelphia be interested in?


Robin Lehner:

It has been a long while since the Flyers have been steady in goal. Not to say Lehner would provide them this on an expiring deal, but he could come in and start. Brian Elliott was brought in from Calgary to be the starting goalie and has a solid 21-11 record this year, but his .908 save percentage has been below average.

Elliott will now be out for the next 5-6 weeks after undergoing core muscle surgery. If the Flyers stand pat on their goaltending situation, that would mean the often injured Michael Neuvirth will be left to carry the load for, essentially, the rest of the regular season. 

Gettting Lehner on an expiring contract would give the Flyers flexibility. If they really like how Lehner plays, they can re-sign him. Lehner is only 26-years old, and has put up the statistics of a starting goaltender since coming to Buffalo. If the Flyers don't want to keep Lehner around, they can simply let him walk and thank him for helping them down the stretch.

The price for Lehner likely wouldn't be as much as Tim Murray paid. Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth each have one more year left on their deals, and both are under a $3 million cap hit. Their inclusion in a deal could fit Buffalo as they'd be in tandem with Linus Ullmark next season. 


Evander Kane:

Kane screams like the type of player Flyers fans would love. Scorer, tough, hustle, two-way game are all things you get out of Kane.

The Flyers have a solid top-six forwards group that includes Giroux, Voracek, Sean Couturier (who has 28 goals this year), and Simmonds. Past that, there isn't a lot of consistency. Youngster, Travis Konecny is having a pretty good year with 13 goals, but he's a 20-year old.

Kane would slide right in on either their top line with Giroux and Voracek, or complement Couturier on their second line. They'll need all the firepower they can get when they're likely first round opponent will be Pittsburgh or Washington. 

In the offseason, Philadelphia will have over $17 million in cap room with no major players of their own becoming free agents. If they want to, they would be in the Evander Kane sweepstakes, especially if they traded for him at the deadline. 


What the Flyers have to offer:

Philadelphia will have two first round picks in the 2018 NHL Draft. They have their own, and a conditional first they received from St. Louis in the Brayden Schenn trade. The condition is if St. Louis' pick becomes a top-10 pick, the Blues can push the pick back to 2019. That's not going to happen with the Blues being six points clear of a playoff spot. Having an extra first round pick to dangle in front of other teams at the deadline is an advantage for Ron Hextall. The Flyers own the rest of their own picks in the 2018 draft, as well as Arizona's fifth round pick and Montreal's seventh round pick.

The prospect pool has some nice players. 2017 second overall pick Nolan Patrick is having a rough rookie year, but the Sabres are not prying him out of there. Same goes for Konecny and defenseman Ivan Provorov.

Guys not in the NHL include 2014 fifth round pick Oskar Lindblom, who's had great years in Sweden and the AHL. Goaltender Carter Hart was a second round pick in 2016. You may recognize his name from starting for Team Canada at the World Juniors in Buffalo. Philadelphia's 2016 first round pick (22nd overall) German Rubstov has been a point per-game player in the QMJHL this year. Rubstov also had four points in five games for Team Russia at the World Juniors. All three are nice prospects.

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