As the trade deadline approaches, the Philadelphia Flyers are not in good shape. Currently, the team sits in the basement of the Metropolitan Division with their playoff hopes eradicated. In this state, the Flyers are not going to be buyers. General manager Chuck Fletcher has confirmed that he is planning for an “aggressive retool”, so any trades the team makes will most likely be about selling off players to gain key assets.
Philadelphia Flyers Trades Before Deadline
After a 15-season career with the Flyers, it may finally be time for Claude Giroux to leave. The Philadelphia Flyers certainly aren’t going to win the Stanley Cup anytime soon, and Giroux deserves a chance to chase that final achievement with a better team. Such a trade would also benefit the Flyers. Giroux is one of the best players on the market and should command a hefty return package.
An ideal trade partner in this scenario would be a legitimate contender. Giroux’s contract ends after the season, so he’d appeal to teams with more of a “win now” mentality. His versatility, leadership experience, and scoring pace would give any playoff-bound team a boost.
Two teams that are likely to trade for Giroux are the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild, who have often been connected to him in recent rumours. Both have solid prospect pools from which the Flyers could obtain a notable talent to develop. As such, the return package for Giroux will likely include a highly-regarded young player or prospect and a first-round draft pick (2022 for Minnesota, 2023 for Colorado). Notably, the Avalanche do not have much cap space. There would have to be some salary retention on the Flyers’ part, which could warrant another pick being sent the Flyers’ way.
Giroux will have many suitors at the deadline. However, where he goes (or even whether or not he does go) will be up to him. The NMC on his contract ensures that he has the option to choose who he’d be willing to be traded to. Still, given the frustration of another disappointing season with the Flyers, all the signs point to Giroux finally being on his way out this year.
It may seem counterintuitive for the Flyers – a team that’s struggling mightily on defence – to relinquish a good defenceman. However, a Justin Braun trade actually does make sense. Braun is 35 years old. As the Flyers look to “retool”, he’s not the young number-one blueliner they’ll build around. What Braun is, though, is a solid defenceman who could add depth to a playoff team. By that logic, the Flyers would benefit more from trading him for future assets than from keeping him around.
One team that could be targeting Braun is the Edmonton Oilers. They reportedly had scouts at three of the last four Flyers games, and it’s no secret that the Oilers are lacking on the defensive end (as well as in the goaltending area – more on that later). Braun, who is second on the Flyers in blocks and is capable of shouldering first-pairing minutes, would be a steady, stabilizing veteran presence among Edmonton’s blueliners.
Braun would likely earn the Flyers a mid-round draft pick. The Oilers traded their 2022 third and fourth-round picks (and a fifth-round pick seems like a bit of an underwhelming return), so they would need to relinquish a 2023 pick instead. Trading Braun probably won’t warrant a hugely impactful package, but any future assets the Flyers can obtain will add depth to their prospect pipeline.
With Martin Jones, it’s another case of valuing assets over what the player provides for the team. While he’s not going to be among the best goaltenders on the market at the trade deadline, he’s a serviceable backup who could perform well behind a better team. He would also be relatively easy for most teams to accommodate since he carries only a $2 million cap hit and will be a free agent after this season.
Just as the Oilers are in need of a stronger defence, they are also in dire need of goaltending help. Jones is not guaranteed to be a better option than the netminders they already have. (Stuart Skinner has been decent, and Mike Smith is really the only one with a worse save percentage than Jones – .891 vs. .897.) Still, his experience playing on a team with a similarly-dysfunctional defence would make him a fair contender for at least the backup job.
Predators Join The Game
Another possible suitor is the Nashville Predators. Although Juuse Saros is undoubtedly their starter, he’ll need a break every now and then during the playoffs. Such a limited workload would be an ideal situation for Jones, and he has the numbers to prove that he’s better right now (on a worse team) than David Rittich, Nashville’s backup.
Jones will likely bring the Flyers something in the ballpark of a fifth-round draft pick. The Predators have the cap space and pick that would be necessary to acquire him. On the other hand, Edmonton has the pick but not the cap space. They’d have to clear room for Jones through another trade, or compensate the Flyers for salary retention – and those don’t seem like lengths they would go to for a backup goaltender. Thus, for the time being, Nashville appears to be the best landing spot if Jones gets traded.
Outlook for Philadelphia Flyers Trades
Aside from shipping out the captain, the Philadelphia Flyers trade deadline moves shouldn’t make a huge splash. Still, the assets they receive will build up their prospect depth to create a stronger future. If navigated well, this season’s trade deadline could be the start of a timely rebuild for this frustrated Flyers team.