Things are getting spicy around the NHL. The trade market is about to “explode” and we got another trade on Thursday with Ryan Graves being dealt from the Colorado Avalanche to the New Jersey Devils. Activity is already picking up and it should continue to do so over the next few weeks. However, there will be five days of zero activity between Saturday’s NHL roster freeze at 3 p.m. ET and Wednesday’s Expansion Draft. The Philadelphia Flyers have yet to make a move this offseason, but will Chuck Fletcher strike before Saturday afternoon?
Unfortunately, probably not. Despite fans clamoring for a move, it just doesn’t make sense right now. The Flyers have a “pretty straightforward” protection list for the Seattle Expansion Draft, Fletcher said Tuesday, and they won’t want to change things if they don’t have to.
The calm before the storm
Chuck Fletcher doesn’t foresee any action in the next few days.
“From our standpoint, we certainly aren’t going to be making a trade today or tomorrow, unless something unexpected breaks right now,” said on Tuesday. While we’re a few days past “today or tomorrow,” the point remains. While there may be “a lot” of chatter, the Flyers would need to move things around –– or have a deal they can’t pass up come their way.
Saturday’s roster freeze marks the last step before the Expansion Draft. Teams have to submit their protection lists for the Expansion Draft. The Flyers will certainly be going with the 7-3-1 option, protecting seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. The only way they should make a trade while having their list all but finalized is if it doesn’t impact their protected players. I don’t see that happening.
However, just because the Flyers aren’t likely to make a move in the next day doesn’t mean they won’t be active next week.
Fletcher focused on the next two weeks
The Expansion Draft will kick off a flurry of activity around the NHL and the Flyers should be included in that.
“It’s an exciting time, in a sense that with the Seattle Expansion Draft, with the flat cap, you might see maybe a few more trades, a few more hockey trades throughout the week,” Fletcher said on Tuesday.
“There’s going to be hopefully some exciting additions to our club over the next couple months,” Fletcher continued. “And probably a few moves around the league that you normally wouldn’t see because of expansion and because of the flat cap.”
We’ve already seen a move or two that we wouldn’t normally see. The Avalanche were unlikely to protect Ryan Graves, so they traded him for assets rather than likely losing him for nothing to Seattle. The Duncan Keith trade is another move that was impacted by the flat cap and Expansion Draft. Those types of moves might continue, as Fletcher said.
Fletcher is fully focused on making the Flyers better this offseason, just like any other offseason.
“This summer to me is similar to every summer, every offseason,” he said. “The goal is to try to be as competitive as we can next year and yet, we want to make sure we keep a large quantity of future assets that can continue to help us get better as we move forward. We’re looking at everything.”
“We have a lot of work ahead of us”
You may not see breaking Flyers news this weekend but be prepared for it over the next two weeks. The Expansion Draft offers tons of possibilities for teams looking to shed salary, such as someone like James van Riemsdyk or Jakub Voracek.
After Wednesday, teams won’t have to worry about protection lists and will be able to freely shift their roster around. The Flyers are going to need more than a small shift to become a contender next season.
“We’re going to continue to try to make moves and make us better,” Fletcher concluded. “We know we have a lot of work ahead of us. And we’ll do the best we can.”
Photo: Heather Barry Images