It was an eventful trade deadline for the Philadelphia Flyers – although that had been predicted ever since Claude Giroux‘s name began to feature in the NHL rumour mill. As expected, the captain did get traded. (He was shipped out to the Florida Panthers, his ideal landing spot, on Saturday.) Justin Braun, a steady defenceman who was often used in a bigger role than he was suited to, was moved to the New York Rangers, while Derick Brassard headed to the Edmonton Oilers.
As far as selling goes, the Flyers were successful in moving some key pieces. But how much did those deals actually do in terms of getting them the future assets they need? And were the return packages worth losing some of the team’s best players? Let’s break down the Flyers’ trades and assess how “good” they really were.
Grading Philadelphia Flyers Trade Deadline
Claude Giroux to Florida Panthers
2024 NHL Draft first-round pick (top-10 protected)
2023 NHL Draft third-round pick
Claude Giroux (50% salary retained)
2024 NHL Draft fifth-round pick
A Confusing Trade
Ignoring all outside factors, this trade would seem…not so great. Claude Giroux on his own would command a return of at least Tippett and a first-round pick, if not more. And the salary retention justifies the extra third-round pick. But what about the other parts of the trade? Well, letting go of Rubtsov and Bunnaman isn’t a huge deal. Neither was going to be more than a bottom-six forward; more than likely, this portion was just a salary dump. However, it’s odd that the Flyers had to send a pick (albeit a lower one) to the Panthers. Overall, the deal just seems lacklustre, especially in comparison to Giroux’s considerable value and trade returns some other players brought back to their teams.
It’s also worth noting that a 2024 first-round pick is pushing the boundaries of the Flyers’ ideal timeline. With the words “aggressive retool” describing Chuck Fletcher’s current approach to fixing the team’s issues, a two- or three-year turnaround is the obvious expectation. But it will most likely take some time beyond 2024 to develop the drafted player. And if the Panthers somehow end up getting a top 10 pick that year, the Flyers will be forced to take their 2025 first-round pick instead, making the “retool” look even more like a full-on rebuild.
Giroux’s No Move Clause
There is one saving grace for this trade, though, and that’s Giroux’s No Move Clause. When players have NMCs or NTCs on their contracts, it allows them a degree of control over their own fates. For Giroux, an NMC meant that General Manager Chuck Fletcher would not have been able to move him anywhere without his consent.
As the race for his services heated up, it left only two potential suitors: the Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers. In previous weeks, Giroux expressed that the Avalanche was his first choice. With the Panthers in the running, though, reports came that he was leaning more toward them for any number of reasons – proximity to family, better weather, etc. In the end, it seemed that he favoured Florida so much that he would only waive for them, per Charlie O’Connor.
Can also confirm that Giroux was only willing to waive his NMC to go to Florida by the end of the process.
Which to be clear, was always totally his right. That’s why an agent pushes for a NMC in a deal, so that he can theoretically pick his spot. Believe Giroux did here.
— Charlie O’Connor (@charlieo_conn) March 19, 2022
It seems the Panthers knew that Giroux wouldn’t waive for Colorado (despite the Avalanche apparently offering a better package) and used it to their full advantage to lowball Chuck Fletcher. In that sort of situation, there’s not much that can be done. What the captain wants, the captain gets – and the seemingly underwhelming return can’t really be blamed on anyone. The Flyers did their best to make the most out of an unideal situation and considering that there was the looming possibility that they could have lost Giroux during the offseason for nothing, this return isn’t nearly as bad as it could’ve been.
Justin Braun to New York Rangers
2023 NHL Draft third-round pick
A Reasonable Return
The Flyers made another notable move on the day of the trade deadline, giving Justin Braun to the playoff-bound New York Rangers in exchange for a pick. It came as surprise, given that the Rangers don’t necessarily come to mind in conversations of defensively-weak teams. But a third-round pick for Braun’s services nonetheless seems reasonable.
Given the outrageous packages traded for some other defencemen around the trade deadline, there might have been hope that Braun would go for a bit of a higher price. (See the Chiarot trade, for example.) He was actually one of the better blueliners available by the time the day of the deadline rolled around, but still, a steady depth player isn’t typically going to pull in a huge haul. With many teams already having made their blockbuster moves before Monday, players traded right at the deadline probably weren’t going to command much more anyway. In this situation, the Braun return works just fine.
Brassard to Edmonton Oilers
2023 NHL Draft fourth-round pick
Another Reasonable Return
Much like with Justin Braun, shipping Derick Brassard to the Oilers is a more minor trade, but yet another reasonable one. Amongst Edmonton’s high-powered forwards, Brassard is more of a depth addition than the top-six fill-in the Flyers often used him as. Consequently, there were likely fewer teams making offers for his services. Once again comparing this to the Braun trade, it makes sense that Brassard commanded a slightly lesser return, as defencemen seemed to be more in-demand during this season’s trade deadline. Thus, a fourth-round pick in a draft that’s shaping up to be a strong one is perfectly acceptable.
Final Thoughts on Flyers Trade Deadline
Given that both these return packages are mostly draft-centric, a lot of their ultimate value will ride on how the Flyers use their new future picks. The 2023 draft is expected to be deep, so the third- and fourth-round picks could yield a diamond-in-the-rough talent. And hopefully, the Flyers will be able to add a core prospect from their 2024 (or 2025) first-round pick. As for Owen Tippett, the only player the Flyers received from their trade deadline moves, playing on a team with much less depth than the Panthers should provide a much-needed shot to become a permanent fixture in an NHL lineup. By no means will he be a replacement for Claude Giroux – in fact, no rational fan would expect that. But with his speed and shot, he could end up a top-six player for the Flyers if they develop him right.
Overall, the Flyers’ 2022 trade deadline was neither spectacular nor horrible, only really noteworthy in terms of Giroux’s departure. Nevertheless, the team did manage to load up on prospects and picks. If those pans out, they could give a significant boost to Chuck Fletcher’s so-called “retool”.
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