Because of an injury to Ryan Ellis, defenseman Justin Braun has spent most of the season on the Philadelphia Flyers’ top pairing and has done an admirable job.
Now 35, Braun could soon be headed elsewhere because the Flyers are out of the playoff picture, and his solid play could help a contender, especially on a team looking for a veteran righthanded-shooting defenseman who can solidify the third pairing.
The trade deadline is March 21, and Braun, a prospective unrestricted free agent this summer, knows he may be playing his final weeks with the Orange and Black.
Braun acknowledged he has thought “a little bit” about being traded.
“That’s everyday life in the NHL. You never know when you’re going to get moved if you don’t have a no-move or no-trade” in your contract, Braun said after practice Sunday in Voorhees.
He does not have one of those clauses, so he is likely to be dealt.
Edmonton, St. Louis, Florida, Vegas, Colorado, Washington, and the Rangers are among the teams reportedly looking for a veteran defenseman.
“You just have to keep working every day, trying to help your team win,” said Braun, one of four Philadelphia Flyers to play in all 49 of their games this season. “That’s what I do every time I go out there.”
He blocks shots, plays solid defense, and chips in occasionally down the offensive end. It’s not noticed much by fans because the Flyers have lost 17 of their last 19 games.
Through all the losses, Braun (four goals, 13 points) has a plus-1 rating; out of the Philadelphia Flyers’ regulars who have played at least half the games, he is one of just four players who is a “plus” player.
Braun is averaging 20 minues a game.
“It’s nice to be back playing those kind of minutes, but if you’re not winning, its not really ideal, either,” he said. “… You kind of hope to be doing those minutes on a winning team.”
Braun said the Flyers, who blew late leads against quality opponents (Pittsburgh, Washington) in their last two losses, are playing for pride.
“You don’t want to embarrass yourselves, you don’t want to embarrass the organization,” he said. “You want to go out there, work hard every night. Circumstances are different for every guy. Some guys are trying to get their foot in the door. Get in the league and stay in the league. Other guys play for contracts and everything, but at the end of the night, you have to play to win. You can’t just show up and get through the games, because you don’t want to make any logo you have on your chest, especially the Flyers’ one, look bad.”
Rasmus Ristolainen, who missed the last three games because of an unspecified injury, will return to the lineup for Monday’s 3 p.m. matinee against powerful Carolina at the Wells Fargo Center. He will be paired with Travis Sanheim.
Getting him back “is huge. He brings that physical edge. He’s smart with the puck, and guys (opponents) know when he’s on the ice,” Braun said. “You have to be aware when he’s out there, and it keeps guys honest.”
Like Braun, Ristolainen could be traded, though the Flyers are trying to sign him. Ristolainen (11 points, minus-12) can also become an unrestricted free agent in July.
Flyers prospect Bobby Brink continues to lead all NCAA scorers with 49 points in 30 games for the University of Denver. The 5-foot-9, 164-pound junior right winger feasted on Western Michigan over the weekend, collecting three points (goal, two assists) Friday and two goals Saturday.
Brink, a Minnesota native, was chosen in the second round (34th overall) of the 2019 draft.
Fourth-line center Patrick Brown will also return to the lineup Monday after being sidelined by a knee injury. Brown, 29, who had four points in 20 games, hasn’t played since Jan. 8. … Carter Hart will get the start Monday. … Defenseman Kevin Connauton will come out of the lineup. … Right winger Wade Allison skated after practice and is “getting closer,” interim coach Mike Yeo said. … Yeo said he received good reports on forward Tanner Laczynski’s return to the Phantoms in a 3-2 shootout loss Saturday to Utica. “He could be a real good player for our organization.,” Yeo said. Laczynski had hip surgery and was originally expected to miss the entire season.