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NHL Trade Talk: Friedman ‘not convinced’ Flyers will land Mattias Ekholm



Mattias Ekholm

The Philadelphia Flyers have been linked to Mattias Ekholm for a little while now. There is no doubt that the Flyers could use a guy like Ekholm to shore up their defense. Unfortunately for them, a lot of contending teams have the same need as the trade deadline nears.

Ekholm is going to be one of the most sought-after players leading up to the trade deadline. The Flyers will undoubtedly like to acquire him, but they’ll need to stay in the playoff race to make it worth it.

In Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 31 Thoughts column on Tuesday, he reported some interesting news about Ekholm:

“3. As things stood Tuesday morning, it sounds like Ekholm is the belle of the trading ball. We’re a month away from the deadline, but the poker game is underway with the Predators demanding a high price. Boston and Winnipeg are there. I always assume there are others. I’m not convinced Philadelphia is going to do it — not certain they feel this is the year to pay the cost. (Of course, whenever I say that to people, they reply, “Come on, these are the Flyers you’re talking about.” Maybe the Chuck Fletcher/Dean Lombardi Flyers are different.)”

Mattias Ekholm to Flyers losing steam?

While it’s disappointing to see that Friedman isn’t convinced that the Flyers are “going to do it,” there are a few factors to remember here.

First of all, this is just one report, albeit one from a well-connected NHL insider. Many people around the Flyers –– media and fans alike –– are also not convinced that they’re going to do it. The price may be too high for the Flyers given their expansion draft situation.

Secondly, given the Flyers’ recent play, Friedman (and others) may not view them as buyers –– or at least not among the likes of the Bruins or Jets, which is understandable. This could easily change if the Flyers can turn things around before the deadline.

Mind you, the deadline is still almost four weeks away. The Flyers have plenty of time to get back on track, including several games against non-playoff teams. Starting with Monday night’s win against the Rangers, the Flyers play the Rangers, Devils, or Sabres in eight of their 16 games from March 15th to April 11th. They also play the islanders five times. Those matchups against the Isles will go a long way in deciding whether or not this team can climb back into the playoff race.

So, although Friedman isn’t convinced that the Flyers will land Ekholm right now, things can easily change over the course of a week or two. Even if the Flyers don’t land Ekholm, they could look at other defensemen such as a pure rental in David Savard or Alex Goligoski.

It’s also worth remembering that the Predators reportedly are still scouting the Phantoms and have discussed preliminary names with the Flyers.

Flyers kicked tires on Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Sportsnet’s NHL insider also dropped an interesting nugget about the Flyers’ defensive pursuits in the offseason. Fletcher has received criticism for not replacing Matt Niskanen. Apparently, he at least made one attempt at a high-end replacement.

Friedman writes:

“26. Months-old rumour I heard this week: Philadelphia poked around Oliver Ekman-Larsson last summer, but a move obviously didn’t happen, as his choices were Boston and Vancouver.”

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is certainly a name, but he’s not as good as he once was. On top of that, he carries an $8.25 million cap hit through the 2026-27 season. The Flyers don’t need anyone locked up for that long, let alone a 29-year-old defenseman.

Photo: Michael MillerCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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