Five Questions: Will the Flyers trade for the rights to any free agents?

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Flyers Faithful is pleased to have Adam Kimelman of NHL.comMarc Siciliano of Kukla’s CornerDan MacNeal of Crimespree HockeyJames Minger of Flyers-Philia, and Flyers Faithful’s own Kevin Christmann participate in the current iteration of Five Questions. This is the second of a five-part series focusing on Free Agency that will run all week.

With there already being several trades throughout the league for an impending free agent’s rights, and it being a common occurrence since the lockout, do you expect we will continue to see that? Do you see the Flyers as considering that option as they have in the past? If so, for whom?

Adam Kimelman: I don’t see it happening with Suter or Parise, but I think there could be some movement. I think if there’s a player the Flyers have targeted for after July 1, we know Paul Holmgren isn’t afraid to be aggressive and pursue that player prior to him hitting the open market.

Marc Siciliano: Given the current structure of the CBA, I believe we will continue to see teams trading away an impending FA’s right this year, and if the Flyers believe their guy is one of these impending FA’s you can bet they’ll be right in the thick of it once again. The question then becomes: which one of these FA’s could be a target?

With a well-tenured history of mutually beneficent transactions with Nashville, smart money would have been on the Flyers trying to acquire Ryan Suter’s rights; but it has recently been said that he is strictly considering west coast options, thus leaving him out of the picture.

Because of this, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear if the Flyers were trying to acquire an exclusive negotiating window with the highly sought after blue chip defensive prospect Justin Schultz (soon-to-be formally) of Anaheim. While signing Schultz would be a huge boost to the defensive depth of the club, keep in mind the cost of making such a deal could be far too great to make such a speculative trade worth it. Not only will there surely be a bidding war for his rights, he could still opt to test free agency and gauge all of his options. Still, it appears he has interest in the Flyers, and if they were to confirm that interest is enough to likely sign a deal you have to imagine they would give it a shot.

There is one last scenario that might intrigue the Flyers front office as much as it entices myself, though I will be the first to admit it is the longest of long shots.

Given their aforementioned relationship with Nashville and their tendency to take risks on skilled players, it wouldn’t seem outlandish to try and pry the rights of Alexander Radulov from the Predators. They’ve already announced they will be severing ties with the player, and since he is so close to signing in the KHL anyways he could be had for almost nothing.

With Radulov, the Flyers would suddenly possess a guy with that pure offensive skill they lack on the wing. Through all his hardships, this is still a man that put up 58 points as a 21 year old in his second season in the NHL, doing so with 2nd line minutes and a primary partnership with Jason Arnott. Imagine this guy with his offensive talent level and now more size and experience flanking Giroux?

/commence jaw dropping offensive dominance.

Players with his skill level don’t come around often – especially at almost zero cost. Radulov represents a very enticing high risk, high reward scenario that if successful could put the Flyers over the edge offensively. Who knows, maybe Bryz can use his personality to earn his contract in other ways.

Dan MacNeal: If the Flyers want somebody that they are unsure they can get on July 1, they might pull the trigger as they have done in the past.  I can’t begin to guess who they’d target, perhaps a defenseman they covet.  I’m sure they’re considering the option but my gut feeling says that they won’t do that this season, although you never know with Paul Holmgren.

James Minger: I don’t know if the Flyers invented this move when they traded for Timonen’s rights, but they sure as hell utilize this tactic better than anybody. Quite honestly, why not? Trading for a pending free agent’s negotiating rights is a win-win move for everybody. Obviously, if the team that holds the player’s rights could get a deal done, they would. By trading away that player’s rights, at least the former team doesn’t walk away with nothing. As for the acquiring team, this move almost always works out (the only exception being the Flyers acquiring Dan Hamuis of course).

Seeing as this seems to be one of Paul Holmgren’s favorite maneuvers, do I think he’s trying to get the inside track on anybody this year? No. Now I can understand why people would suggest trying to make such a deal with his old trade buddy, Nashville GM, David Poile but I just don’t see that as being a viable option. It is all over the twitters that Ryan Suter doesn’t want to play for an east coast team – let alone the Flyers – and Shea Weber is a RFA, not a UFA; which means that Poile has no need to panic if he can’t get Weber to sign after July 1st. Once free agency starts, and another team makes Weber an offer, there are few scenarios I can see where Poile doesn’t immediately match that offer. At this point, Poile is just trying to retain Weber in the most amicable way possible.

(Note: James provided his answer prior to Jackman re-signing. He then amended his answer to Stoll…who then re-signed as well.)

That being said, there is a pending UFA defenseman worth trading something minimal for his obtain his rights. That would be, Barret Jackman. Jackman has expressed interest in wanting to stay with the Blues and is due for a pay raise in the $4M per/yr range. The Blues would love to retain him but the only players they have signed through the 2013- 2014 season are David Backes, and Roman Polak. So, to pay Alex Pietrangelo, T.J. Oshie, newcomer Vladamir Tarasenko, and the rest of the team, there may not be enough to go around to pay Jackman. This would be great for the Flyers because Jackman pretty much plays the same way as Nicklas Grossman, and we all know how that trade worked out.

Aside from Suter and Parise, there aren’t any pending UFA’s that I think warrant trading for their signing rights.  I think that most, to all of this year’s remaining UFA class will hit the open market without necessitating a trade for their rights.  However, I would give up a 6th round, and a conditional 5th round pick for Jarret Stoll.  Stoll is the stabilizing third line center that playoff teams need to make deep runs in the playoffs – if that wasn’t obvious by now.  Although, I expect Stoll to go for a very similar deal that Darren Helm just signed.  Something in the neighborhood of $4M/year, for 4-5 years.  Basically, pricing himself out of the Flyers interest.

Kevin Christmann: I predicted a tame draft from the Flyers in staying put at 20, and I’m going to say their Free Agency approach will be tame as well. I don’t expect them to make a splash for Free Agent rights like they have in the past, and if they do, I don’t think it’s going to be for one of the major players. If anything, it might be something minor like solidifying the backup goaltender.

Last week Dave Isaac tweeted “Homer says the only reason to trade for players rights is only to save money and it usually doesn’t work. He’s got $51M reasons to say that.” I think Homer has done it enough to realize it at this point.