The NHL trade deadline is in just four days and we got our first major deal on Wednesday night. The Philadelphia Flyers weren’t involved, but it was a trade between two rivals in the East Division.
The New York Islanders acquired Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils. In exchange, the Islanders sent a few pieces to the Devils. The Devils got the Islanders 2021 first-round pick, a conditional fourth-round pick in 2022, and. two AHLers.
This was the first major trade of deadline season. There were a few minor trades prior, the biggest being Eric Staal being traded from Buffalo to Montreal for two picks (third and fifth rounds).
Both Palmieri and Zajac are pending free agents, so unless the Islanders can find a way to re-sign them, it’s a rental situation for New York. The Islanders are fighting for the top spot in the East Division and this could be the push they need to get them in the Stanley Cup conversation.
What the Devils-Islanders trade means for the Flyers
First, from a still-trying-to-make-the-playoffs perspective: Fortunately for the Flyers, they only play the Islanders twice more this season –– including tonight. On the other hand, they play the Devils five more times, all in the last few weeks of the season. If the Flyers somehow keep their playoff hopes alive, the Devils won’t have two of their top forwards anymore for those games.
Now, from a trade-deadline perspective: The Flyers don’t have any direct comparisons for either Palmieri or Zajac. Both players have a solid track record and are pending free agents. However, this could spark some other teams to try to add forwards of their own.
The main name to watch for the Flyers in the trade market, if they sell, is Scott Laughton. Laughton has crept into the trade rumor mill over the past few weeks as the Flyers’ best pending free agent. He loves playing in Philadelphia, so Chuck Fletcher may have a tough decision to make.
Certainly, the Flyers won’t be able to get a first-round pick for Laughton –– if they do, Fletcher should say yes in a heartbeat. A second-round pick is a possibility, but less likely. It’ll depend on how the market shakes out and how many teams get into a bidding war as the deadline nears.
If Fletcher wants to hold onto Laughton, the Flyers also have Michael Raffl as a pending free agent. He, like Laughton, has spent his entire NHL career with the Flyers. However, it’d be a little bit easier to see him go. But at the same time, that means that the return for Raffl won’t be nearly as good.
It’s also worth noting that the Devils weren’t afraid to trade with their rival to get the return that they wanted. Perhaps Fletcher does the same if the Penguins come calling on Laughton.
Fletcher may wait to see how the Flyers play tonight and this weekend before making a final call, but this Palmieri-Zajac trade could be the first of many trades of this deadline season.
Photo: Heather Barry Images