If you care about the Flyers enough to be scouring the web for Philly-centric hockey news in the dog days of Summer, then you’re already well aware of the lack of available free agents that can significantly impact this team going forward. With few guys left to choose from in the open market, it would seem that any big changes to the roster will have to come via trade.
When James van Riemsdyk was traded earlier in the off-season, the public response varied immensely based on each person’s individual assessment of him as an asset to the team. Some regarded him with little value, while others still saw him as the blue chip prospect he was originally drafted as. The truth is, he realistically fell somewhere in between — but the disparity in opinion was incredible to see, and it got me thinking: when looking at each player as a particular asset to the team, what type of value does said player hold?
Rather than endlessly speculating on what player might be brought in via trade and what it would take to get him, let’s look at the players as assets and see what type of value the Flyers have to work with. We begin with Part 1: the cream of the Flyers organizational crop.
UNTOUCHABLE: Claude Giroux
The sky is the limit for this silky-smooth center, and everyone around the National Hockey League knows it. With a knack for elevating his game at crucial moments and the ability to lead the NHL playoffs in scoring well beyond elimination, I don’t think I need to elaborate any farther, but I just can’t help myself.A name many would mention in the same breath as some of the top players in the league, #28 isn’t even a top-five player on the Flyers in terms of cap hit for next season. When ignoring Chris Pronger and his respective cap hit, he falls in at #6, a hair above Luke Schenn and half-a-million less than Voracek! Factor in his pedigree of dominance (check his Junior stats, particularly the 07-08 playoffs — a 19-goal, 51 point campaign with an injured hand) and absolutely stellar PK anticipation, Giroux is almost incomparable in his skill-set.Simply put, general managers go to sleep dreaming of trading for a guy like this. At this point in his career, you can’t possibly win the trade if he is going the other way.
With Giroux off the table, the next name a GM will likely “fall back on” will almost always involve one of Sean Couturier or the Schenns. We’ve heard time and time again that these guys are the ones the Flyers would have to give up in order to make a trade for a defenseman or Bobby Ryan, but there is a reason why so many teams are making this request and the Flyers know it, or else they would have figured out a way to trade some combination of these guy(s) for Shea Weber.When looking at Couturier, there are many aspects of his game for a GM to love. It starts with his size, but it goes beyond that to the way he has prepared himself to be successful with extreme diligence and hard work. A prospect many thought “fell” to the Flyers at the #8 pick last year, his preparation led to him being used in key situations at both ends of the ice from the drop of the puck, culminating with his defensive dominance of one of the greatest players in the game today in Evgeni Malkin during the first round of the playoffs.
At a mere 19 years of age, Couturier found himself routinely lining up against some of the toughest competition in the NHL, and did so rather successfully. While his two-way play might forever be his calling card, there is the feeling that Couturier is only beginning to scratch his offensive potential given his lack of mass and experience at this level of play. All of these factors combine to essentially make Sean Couturier untouchable at this point in his career.
Along similar lines, both Luke and Brayden Schenn fall into this category when looking at them as the package of assets they have now become. It would be easy to argue against keeping Luke in this category alone, but it’s apparent the Flyers think that having both brothers in the fold will be a great way to elevate their level of play internally, using each other as motivation to achieve success – a notion I tend to believe in at the moment. If either one of these guys can become the game-changer they were billed to be, they will immediately find themselves as one of the core players on this roster going forward.
Brayden seems to be closer to achieving this status, as he has yet to find a groove early on in his pro career due to early season injuries derailing any momentum he builds in the off-season. With consistent playing time early and often, Brayden might find himself as a go-to forward for the Flyers in the near future. Luke has some more work to do before cementing his status on the Flyers blue line, but the tools are there for this bruising rear-guard to find success. While he wouldn’t warrant this status alone as he stands today, I touched on what Luke Schenn might need to do to be successful in a post a few weeks back, and still believe he has what it takes to be a Flyer for a while if he continues to work hard and learn from his mistakes
Part II will feature the rest of the roster as well as some key prospects and should be posted next week – stay tuned for the rest!
Want to discuss this topic (or anything hockey) with me? Find me on twitter @marcs797