The Philadelphia Flyers became the first team in the NHL to lose to the San Jose Sharks, dropping a 2-1 decision Tuesday night at the SAP Center. The Flyers fell to 5-7-1, and their rebuild will have a few more bumps and bruises ahead, including yet another late fall slump.
But they are not alone.
Although the Sharks are in the Western Conference (and NHL) basement at 1-10-1, the Edmonton Oilers are spiraling themselves with a record of 2-8-1. For a team labeled as Stanley Cup favorites all summer, their championship aspirations have quickly been put on hold. Suffice to say, disappointment is an understatement. In a corresponding move, the team put embattled goaltender Jack Campbell on waivers with the intention of being assigned to the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL. Unsurprisingly, the 31-year-old cleared waivers today, but the Oilers are clearly in desperation mode early on.
Back in October, Flyers general manager Danny Briere appeared on TSN1200 and revealed that he would be willing to take on salary from other teams – at the right price.
“I’ve talked to many teams, and I’ve let them know there’s a possibility for us to help them (clear salaries) if they’re able to help us on the back end with some younger guys,” Briere stated.
The Flyers still have Ryan Ellis on their books. Though his career is likely over due to injury, he has not yet been placed on LTIR as the team wishes to continue to accrue cap space through the trade deadline. However, Rasmus Ristolainen is on LTIR at the moment in correspondence with his preseason injury. By PuckPedia’s calculations, the Flyers have $3.95 million in cap space currently, and that’s with both Cal Petersen and Felix Sandstrom on the NHL roster.
“Teams are very well aware of the position that we’re in, and hopefully, we can work together to make something happen. The future will tell,” he finished.
Under Briere’s auspice, the Flyers have already completed one such deal that reflects this ideology. When Ivan Provorov was sent to the Columbus Blue Jackets by way of the Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia reeled in Sean Walker, Helge Grans, two 2024 second-round picks, and a first-round pick that became Oliver Bonk. This was effectively the cost of business for the Kings needing to move on from Petersen, and Petersen needing a fresh start.
The logic behind a trade
Campbell, like Petersen, has a history of being a solid starter at the NHL level. However, it hasn’t been flowers and sunshine in Edmonton; the former Toronto Maple Leafs standout is 22-13-4 with a .886 save percentage as an Oiler. Campbell needs a change of scenery, and with the Oilers approaching full-blown panic mode, lightning could strike twice in Philadelphia.
The Flyers had previously been willing to lend an ear to calls on Carter Hart, but nothing came to fruition. Instead, the 24-year-old has enjoyed a fine start to his 2023-24 campaign. The play behind him? That’s been less than fine, to this point.
Per MoneyPuck, backup Sam Ersson is currently third-worst in the NHL with a Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAA) of -6.4. The only two worse than him are the Minnesota Wild’s Filip Gustavsson (-6.7) and the Oilers’ Stuart Skinner (-6.4). For further context, Campbell sits at -3.8 and Hart is at -0.3.
Effectively, Philadelphia’s goal is to acquire a heap of futures, while also getting a marginal improvement behind Hart.
For starters, Edmonton has possession of their first-round picks in both 2024 and 2025. The Oilers are without their 2025 second-round pick, but they do have their 2024 second-round pick. In addition, prospects like Dylan Holloway and Raphael Lavoie figure to come up in conversation as well. As a left wing, the former would make a nice addition to this right wing-laden Flyers team.
Briere and co. will rightfully command a king’s random to weaponize their salary cap once more. Ultimately, the Flyers have something that contenders don’t: cap space. The NHL is a business, and help does not come cheap these days.