The Flyers currently have a logjam on offense and will likely look to shed both a contract and salary in the near future. As a result, Scott Hartnell’s name has once again popped up as a possible trade candidate. Should he be on the block, though?
First of all, let’s state the obvious: Nobody is untouchable and, if the return is good enough, anyone could be traded.
Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of trading Hartnell.
- Hartnell is the second-highest paid forward behind only Daniel Briere. The Flyers could alleviate a lot of cap headaches by moving him.
- Hartnell’s output does not necessarily match his cap hit. He’s a terrible skater who hasn’t come close to matching his career high 60-point season 3 years back.
- His role is redundant and can be served by Wayne Simmonds and James van Riemsdyk. Even Chris Pronger can fill some of his responsibilities on the power play.
- He is the last remaining player from the Center City crew, which almost makes it an automatic that he could be moved at some point.
- The Flyers lost a ton of goal scoring this off-season. Moving a perennial 20-plus goal scorer will hurt the team more than it will help.
- One of the big goals this offseason was to get bigger and grittier at the wings. To this end, trading Hartnell would be counterintuitive.
- Hartnell can provide veteran leadership and help mentor young guys like Wayne Simmonds.
- Hartnell’s no-trade clause and high salary would limit potential suitors as well as the return. Much like when the Flyers traded Simon Gagne, the team would probably have to take back a bad contract in the deal, which would defeat the purpose of trading him.
- Now is not the right time to trade him. Although the Flyers look good at the moment, the season is still young and there’s no guarantee these young players will continue to play at such high levels. Hartnell provides stability. If the team wants to move him, they’d be better off doing it when this year is over, when he will only have one season left on his contract.
The terrific play Sean Couturier and Matt Read is forcing the Flyers’ hand. With Blair Betts back in the fold and Brayden Schenn still waiting in the wings, something will need to happen eventually. Trading Hartnell is not the right move — not at this time, anyway.
The Flyers have other options. They could easily trade a prospect who is unlikely to make it into the NHL for future considerations. They could just as easily get rid of Johan Backlund, since the Phantoms are currently carrying three goalies. These options will help clear out a contract.
In order to clear out salary, waiving Jody Shelley seems like the logical move but I doubt it will happen. If the Flyers wanted to get rid of Shelley, they would have done so already. The team could also assign Betts to the Phantoms. Matt Walker would make a good trade candidate. Zac Rinaldo could be sent back down to the AHL after Shelley serves his suspension — which is not to say he deserves to be demoted because he has played well in his role. Pieces can be moved around.
The Flyers have plenty of options available to them if and when they decide to shed a contract and clear out cap space without moving Scott Hartnell. He should only be moved as a last resort or if they are blown away by an offer.