With a record of just 18-30-11 and in last place in the Metropolitan Division, the Flyers have acknowledged something needs to change. But with the trade deadline approaching on Monday, to this point all they’ve done is assure at least one part of the lineup will stay the same.
On March 10, the Flyers announced they signed defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to a five-year contract extension. Other than captain Claude Giroux, Ristolainen, who was acquired last summer from Buffalo for the giant haul of a 2021 first-round pick, 2023 second-round pick, and defenseman Robert Hägg, was the Flyers’ biggest question mark since he would have become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Getting key players Ryan Ellis and Sean Couturier back from injury should make a difference next season, but as the Flyers look to “aggressively retool” as GM Chuck Fletcher said on Jan. 26, who else can they move? Here’s what to expect before Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline.
The trump card
Claude Giroux, F
Giroux’s $8.275 million average annual value takes up 10.2% of the team’s salary-cap space and he is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
While the in-demand Giroux has a no-move clause, he can choose to waive it. Doing so before the trade deadline would allow the Flyers to trade him in return for something as opposed to losing him in free agency. The Flyers would get back picks and/or prospects to build around while a move would also free up money for the team to potentially make a run at a marquee free agent like South Jersey’s Johnny Gaudreau this summer.
Giroux, 34, could also be “loaned” to a Stanley Cup contender before signing back with the Flyers after the season. This would require a lot of things to go right, but would mean the Flyers would see a return for him.
The starting price for Giroux, who is one of if not the biggest name available, would likely be a first-round pick and prospects. For context, this week the Colorado Avalanche acquired UFA defenseman Josh Manson, a player nowhere near as good as Giroux, for a high-level prospect (Drew Helleson) and a second-rounder.
Recent reports have mentioned the Avalanche and Florida Panthers as potential suitors, while the St. Louis Blues have also been credited with interest in recent weeks.
The Flyers signed a number of one-year contracts with older players this past summer, adding leadership and experience, something they felt was lacking in recent seasons. Other than defenseman Justin Braun, who was on a two-year contract, those players have endured tough seasons. The market for these players may not be high, but the Flyers should look to trade them for something, as these players aren’t part of the long-term solution.
Justin Braun, D:
Braun will be a free agent at the end of the season, which means the Flyers run the risk of losing him for nothing if they don’t trade or re-sign him now.
At 34, Braun is an older defenseman, but there hasn’t been a drop-off in his play. “There’s nothing that jumps out at you, like flash,” said Dan Rosen, a senior writer for NHL.com. “He’s steady.”
“Any contending team is looking for a veteran, experienced defenseman who can come in and make a seamless transition into whatever system you play,” Rosen said. In Rosen’s opinion, Florida has the perfect spot for him on its third pair.
Braun’s performance this season means the Flyers could likely recoup a mid-round draft pick, Rosen said.
Keith Yandle, D:
Like Braun, Yandle is someone the Flyers could try to get something for. However, he has a no-move clause, so he’d have to agree to a trade.
Unlike Braun, Yandle has not had a good season. He has struggled defensively, is a league-worst minus-33, and the power play hasn’t been good enough for him to highlight his best attributes.
Teams may still want Yandle based on his reputation as a power-play quarterback. These teams would likely have a deep enough defense that they wouldn’t mind taking on a specialist primarily for the power play.
“If their second power-play unit is struggling and they want to just bolster that and they have a spot open in their top six, that’s Keith Yandle,” Rosen said.
“You’re probably only going to get something in the neighborhood of a fifth-round pick, a sixth-round pick, maybe a prospect, maybe get a fourth-round pick,” Rosen said. “I don’t know. It’s not going to be anything huge, but again, what’s the point of keeping him?”
Derick Brassard, F:
At the start of the season, Brassard, 34, looked to be a bargain find for the Flyers, especially given his production while filling in at second-line center with Kevin Hayes out.
Brassard has struggled with a hip injury though, and has played just 28 of a possible 59 games. While he’s back in the lineup, teams may worry about his health.
“I think Brassard’s value to a team can be significant,” Rosen said. Brassard can play pretty much any forward role and could bolster a contender’s bottom six. “You’re not looking for Derick Brassard to make an impact now. You’re looking for him to be a role player in the playoffs.”
Having played for nine franchises, Brassard knows the deal when it comes to free agency and trades. He was able to find a role with the New York Islanders in the playoffs last year, so he has shown he can make an impact quickly.
The return would likely be similar to Yandle’s, maybe a little better.
Martin Jones, G:
The Flyers signed Jones with the hope that his former coach Kim Dillabaugh would help him get back on track.
Jones, 32, started well, but as the Flyers’ game slipped, so did his. “It’s hard because the team hasn’t been very good,” Rosen said. “You know, so how much of that is on the goaltending? How much of that is just on how the team has played?”
Whether the Flyers can trade him will depend on the goalie market, Rosen said. Moving goalies in the middle of the season can be hard because their reads have to change. There are also several other goalies out there who bring similar qualities.
Jones would go to a team that wants to “beef up” its goaltending as an insurance policy. The return would not be significant, likely a mid-to-late round pick.
The wild cards
The Flyers have said that everything’s on the table and that they’re not rebuilding. In that vein, they could test the market on some of their young guys to gauge potential returns. However, if the Flyers were to trade them, Rosen said it would probably be in the offseason.
Ivan Provorov, D:
Just two years ago, Provorov seemed poised for stardom and earned himself a six-year, $40 million deal ($6.75 million AAV). He’s signed through 2024-25.
Since then, Provorov’s struggles have mirrored the team’s, as his play has slipped significantly two seasons in a row.
The Flyers traded for Ryan Ellis to give Provorov a high-end defensive partner, but Ellis has been injured. The Flyers believe Ellis would have made a big difference and may want to keep Provorov around to see if things go better next season.
At 25, Provorov has time to get out of his current funk. Teams might think a change of scenery is enough to bring him back to top form. “He’s a young defenseman still,” Rosen said. “There’s still so much he can do in this league. And he’s already proven that he can play well in this league.”
“You’d really have to get a haul in return that addresses a lot of different needs,” Rosen said.
» READ MORE: Flyers Roundtable: Could Ivan Provorov be available?
Travis Konecny, F:
Konecny also signed a six-year contract that is up in ‘24-25 ($5.5 AAV).
Like Provorov, Konecny’s early promise has fizzled a bit over the last two years.
Recently, Konecny has been playing well, Yeo said. He’s had a ton of assists and has helped make plays happen. But Konecny is known as a shooter, and he’s struggling to score goals.
“I agree with the philosophy of the young group that the Flyers brought in a couple of years ago that they want to build around needs some tweaking,” Rosen said. If the Flyers were to “drop a grenade” in the room and decide to get rid of guys in search of something else to build around, Konecny would fit into that.
Konecny’s edge and playmaking ability could be valuable to other teams. They also might believe they can get him scoring again through a change of scenery. Once again, Rosen said this would be more likely to happen in the offseason.
Morgan Frost, F:
Frost has been hampered by injuries, so his development is not going as the Flyers planned. A first-round pick in 2017, five years later, he’s still trying to earn a regular spot on the NHL roster.
Yeo has said he believes in Frost. But he’s also said Frost is struggling with confidence. Frost has spent the year going back and forth from the AHL and NHL. The Flyers’ reasoning is that he can develop confidence better at the AHL level, although others argue that he needs to learn by playing NHL games.
“He could be an interesting trade chip for them for sure,” Rosen said. “Like, it may never work in Philadelphia for Morgan Frost. It may never work in the NHL, we don’t know, but it may never work there.
“Young player, still has a lot of upside, I would think the value for him could be pretty good,” Rosen said. “Maybe even in a bigger trade, like an offseason-type trade. We’ll see. But again, the status quo cannot remain.”
Unwieldy contracts to shed
Like other teams around the league, the Flyers need cap space. Last year, they found some relief by trading Shayne Gostisbehere, along with two picks to the Arizona Coyotes. They got nothing in return but unloaded two years of a $4.5 million AAV contract.
James van Riemsdyk, F:
Van Riemsdyk’s contract is significantly larger than Gostisbehere’s. The Flyers are paying him $7 million per year, which takes up 8.6% of the team’s cap space.
Van Riemsdyk’s contract ends after the 2022-2023 season, which means teams wouldn’t be taking on the burden for long. However, $7 million remains significant.
“He’s not delivering much on that,” Rosen said. While he adds leadership to the team, van Riemsdyk’s streaky season hasn’t been worth $7 million. “I’m not saying the player turns bad but the contract does.”
Even with his ups and downs, van Riemsdyk has a track record as a veteran that might make him desirable, especially for a young team who would also accumulate a pick in this type of deal.
“And I would entertain retaining salary if need be,” Rosen said. “Because even if you retain $2.5 to $3 million, right, you’re still cutting $4 million off the cap ... I would entertain that absolutely find a team that could use a veteran winger willing to pay that veteran winger $3.5, $4 million.”