Five Questions: What should fans expect to happen at the trade deadline?

Flyers Faithful asked Bill Meltzer from HockeyBuzz, NHL.com, and PhiladelphiaFlyers.com, Joshua Janet from GCobb, Michael DeNicola from Orange and Black Pack, and our very own Bob H five questions about the second half of the season. We are very grateful that they took the time to share their opinions and predictions with us. Each day of this week, we will run the answers to one of those questions. Today’s question is:

What should fans expect to happen at the trade deadline? What do you think should happen at the deadline?

Bill Meltzer: I think the Flyers will look to add a veteran top six defenseman and/or veteran two-way forward as a rental at the deadline. What I do not expect is a blockbuster move for someone such as Shea Weber or Ryan Suter, at least not in-season. The Summer may be a different story. The problem in trading even for a defenseman such as Tim Gleason or Francois Beauchemin — is that the prices get inflated because several other teams also have interest in these players and the “seller teams” are sometimes able to bump up the draft pick or prospect compensation as the market becomes established.

Joshua Janet: There is too much chatter regarding the need for another defenseman to not expect Paul Holmgren to pull the trigger at some point before the deadline. Whether it’s a stopgap solution like Anton Babchuk or a long-term blue-liner like Ryan Suter is anybody’s guess, but it would be worth it to the team to bring in veteran support in the event of future injuries.  My only concern is that the organization retain as many of its early draft picks as possible to not mortgage the future.

I’d also like to see Holmgren bring in veteran offense to complement Danny Briere if the team can afford it. Guys like Vinny Prospal and Mike Knuble have cap-friendly contracts that expire at the end of this season and could be worth a second look.

Michael DeNicola: There’s been tons of talk about acquiring Shea Weber (D) from Nashville. As much as I absolutely love Shea, that possibility is slim to none. He’s currently a $7.5-Million cap hit which the Flyers are helpless to afford unless we give up more than what Weber’s worth. Not to mention Holmgren’s got five big salaries locked up with either a no-trade or no-movement clause, so that thins out our trade bait even further. I’d be more comfortable dealing for a defender like Shea’s counterpart, Ryan Suter (D) from the Predators, but only if he agrees to re-sign here in Philadelphia. He’s on the last year of his contract, and something’s got to give if we were to deal a forward or two with remaining years on their contract(s).

Another name around the rumormill is Carolina’s defenseman Tim Gleason. Tim’s a relatively young skater at 28-years old, and also on the final year of his contract. Again, if he agrees to re-sign with Philadelphia once the 2011-12 season closes, he could very well be a good, physical piece of our defensive puzzle.

At this point our biggest trading fodder would be James van Riemsdyk. With his fresh 6-year / $25-Million (Modified NTC) contract starting next season, James brings with him size and speed which could help any team’s first or second line. At the age of 22, you know he’s got a long career in front of him. In fact, there were rumors circulating that JVR could be sent to Toronto for Luke Schenn (D) in return. My co-writer Tim March wrapped his thoughts around the speculation, and figured it to be a positive move. Toronto’s GM Brian Burke loves van Riemsdyk, and JVR being an American only makes the deal that much more attractive to Brian.

Bob Herpen: If you’re around the game and around the league and this franchise long enough, the real answer to this question is: a sigh, followed by bowing your head and running your hands through your hair followed by a resigned “I dunno” that trails off. You never quite know what to expect and what the party line will be so your mind has to be open to all possibilities.

The acquisition of Shea Weber should not be one of them. The Flyers pride themselves on stealing what they think is good talent by not giving up what they think is equal or fair value and Nashville simply ain’t going down that easy no matter what their previous trade connections are with Philly. So yes, a second-tier talent that can be bought without ripping the guts from your cap space is reasonable, though I don’t buy that Tim Gleason is really an answer. My feeling is it will be someone over 30 who has enough left in the tank, has shown flashes of brilliance but is financially feasible because his team wants to/needs to unload him.

Other than that, I’d like to see a two-way third-line forward or someone else of scoring ilk, in the Dale Hawerchuk or Bill Guerin vein who will provide points and valuable guidance.