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NHL Trade Talk

Flyers Trade with Jets for Rutger McGroarty Virtually Impossible

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(Photo: AP)

On Saturday, it was revealed that top Winnipeg Jets prospect and University of Michigan ace Rutger McGroarty is trying to force his way into the NHL, which explains his decision to go back to Michigan from April. McGroarty, who would not be promised an NHL roster spot by the Jets, is close friends with former Philadelphia Flyers prospect Cutter Gauthier.

Gauthier, as you might recall, was reported to have done the same with the Flyers, and eventually ceased communication with the organization entirely before being traded to Anaheim for defenseman Jamie Drysdale and a draft pick on Jan. 8.

Gauthier has since turned pro, signing his entry-level contract on April 14 and making his NHL debut with the Ducks on April 18.

NHL insider Elliotte Friedman shared on the latest episode of his “32 Thoughts” podcast that McGroarty’s name “has come up in trade discussions” as of late as the young prospect attempts to strong-arm his way onto the Jets’ NHL roster–or another NHL roster, for that matter.

In addition, a source told the Winnipeg Free Press that McGroarty is “an NHLer. They will regret it,”. Suddenly, the Flyers aren’t the only organization facing a bit of vitriol for failing to afford their top young prospect a roster spot so early on.

McGroarty, 20, was selected in the same draft class as Gauthier, going to Winnipeg 14th overall in the 2022 NHL Draft. The Michigan star did have 52 points in only 36 NCAA games this year, so the argument that McGroarty is NHL-ready has plenty of credence.

Under normal circumstances, McGroarty would be the perfect Flyers trade target, and one the Flyers would likely have to pony up a fair amount to acquire. However, because Winnipeg’s situation with the 20-year-old is now very much out there in the public sphere–likely to force action from the Jets–the return might not be anywhere near as good as what the Flyers got in the Gauthier trade in January.

Given the volatility of the situation and McGroarty’s relationship with Gauthier, a Flyers trade with the Jets is a near impossibility at this stage. Sure, it’s disappointing that something like this will prevent the Flyers from exploring an avenue to potentially improve the team in the short and long-term, but that’s the reality of business in the NHL sometimes.

You can safely scratch McGroarty off your offseason wish list.

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