Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman dropped his last 31 Thoughts column of the season early Saturday morning. The Philadelphia Flyers have been in the rumor mill quite a bit over the past few months and that didn’t change here.
Flyers will make “legit attempt” to move Jakub Voracek
“12. I’m going to stress that this situation has been described as “not acrimonious” to me, but Philadelphia and Jakub Voracek have discussed that it might be time for a change, as well. Voracek is expected to be left unprotected for the expansion draft (and was told so), where former Flyers coach Dave Hakstol would weigh in. Should that fail, Philly will look elsewhere. There are three years left on his contract, with cash slightly lower than his cap hit of $8.25 million. Both sides are also prepared for the possibility a trade won’t occur, so he stays put. But there will be a legit attempt to move him.”
Chuck Fletcher wants to shake things up this offseason and Jakub Voracek is the one obvious candidate to be moved. Among veterans, Claude Giroux and Kevin Hayes both have no-trade clauses, Sean Couturier is the team’s most important player, and James van Riemsdyk is in a similar boat to Voracek.
What makes Voracek so enticing to move is, as Friedman mentioned, his contract. Voracek has an $8.25 million cap hit for three more seasons while JVR has a $7 million cap hit for two more years. Both are candidates to either be selected by Seattle or moved in a trade this offseason.
Voracek, who turns 32 in August, is on the downside of his career. He’s still a consistent contributor in the top six, but his point totals have decreased over the past four seasons. He had a career-high 85 points in 82 games in the 2017-18 season, 66 points in 78 games three years ago, then 56 points in 69 games, and 43 points in 53 games over the past two seasons.
Friedman stressing that the situation is “not acrimonious” is important. Both sides are willing to work things out no matter what and Voracek seems like he’s smart enough to understand the business. If he’s back with the Flyers next season, it’s not a problem at all. If he’s moved to help clear cap space and make way for an offseason addition, that’s fine too.
At this point, Voracek is one of the Flyers that is most likely to be moved this offseason. I still view James van Riemsdyk as the most likely player to be taken by Seattle or traded to clear salary, but Voracek is right on his tail.
Flyers’ discussions for Seth Jones “appear off, for now”
“13. The Seth Jones-to-Philadelphia discussions appear off, for now. The Flyers can’t get the commitment they want from Jones. That’s his right, to wait unless he’s certain, but Philly won’t make the deal without it.”
This is a follow-up to what Friedman said about Jones on his podcast late this week. We wrote about that on Friday, and here’s a snippet from it:
Jones could be planning on testing the free-agent waters next offseason no matter what. If that’s the case, it should bring down the asking price a lot. It may also give the Flyers pause, as Friedman mentioned, because they’d ideally get their long-term solution this summer. Trading for Jones and then having him leave next offseason would put the Flyers back in the same spot that they’re in now.
If Jones isn’t willing to commit long-term to the Flyers, Fletcher may have to look elsewhere for his top-pair defenseman. Dougie Hamilton will be available in free agency and there are a handful of other defensemen available in the trade market.
Now, with confirmation that Jones won’t commit to the Flyers, Fletcher has to look elsewhere. Jones can still be on the back burner, but the Flyers can’t get caught playing the waiting game this offseason. Fletcher and the Flyers need to identify their main targets and go after them. If it’s not Jones, it has to be someone else of a similar caliber.
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