As we reach Part II of assigning value to the Flyers assets on the roster, things begin to get much more convoluted and less black and white.
Last week I went into great detail breaking down the core pieces of the roster, but now it gets much more difficult. At this point, much of this becomes up for debate because certain teams always covet certain players over others, similar to how the Flyers seemed to have covet Luke Schenn before finally pulling the trigger to acquire him earlier this summer. That being said, there are still a lot of different factors that go into assessing the value of a player, so lets push forward and wrap up the rest.
While continuing down the line, we start to get to the players that can be sacrificed without affecting the roster too drastically for the long-term, but I still caution any move involving a player of this caliber unless there is something significant coming back the other way. You’ve gotta give to get, and these are the types of guys that could go the other way if the Flyers are looking to get some value in return at a different position on the depth chart.
I’ve always had a sweet spot for Voracek, and I personally believe his combination of size and hockey sense is one that always warrants a spot in your upper echelon of roster forwards. Having only recently turned 23, Voracek already boasts over 300 NHL games on his resume and still seems to be only scratching the surface of his offensive potential. A partnership with Claude Giroux appears to be in the cards next season, giving Jake every opportunity to take the next step in his game. It’s easy to see a guy with this much talent earning every cent of that new four-year, $17 million contract. You thought Scott Hartnell looked good with Giroux? Wait until he’s partnered with someone who can skate!
Simmonds falls into a similar category as Jake, but what he lacks in skill (not much), he makes up for in grit. At an equally young age (24), Simmonds has amassed a similar amount of games played while piling up even more goals than the former #7 overall pick, though you wouldn’t know it if you watched them play side by side. While scoring always helps, Simmonds true value lies in his ability to contribute on the scoreboard while also causing havoc for his opponents, providing a balance of offense and grit that many teams are forced to subsidize with two players (one with talent, one with grit).
He will never be a pure playmaker, but when playing his best Simmer can contribute in a number of ways that help the team immensely. If he can standardize the level he exhibited in Game 1 vs. Pittburgh when he amassed seven hits while continuing to improve on the defensive side of the puck, Simmonds can make himself untouchable on the roster due to his wide ranging skill-set.
With each passing season, it becomes more clear that Coburn will never be the ace of any teams blue line; but that doesn’t mean his all around contribution isn’t important to the team. A smooth skater and puck handler, Coburn has taken on many different roles for this team and will continue to do so going forward. Also the longest tenured Flyer, Coburn’s stability on the blue line will be a welcome sight next season. He’s no Shea Weber, but he’s not going anywhere. In order for Coburn to take his game to the next level, he needs to be able to contribute more offensively while also providing a slightly more physical edge to his game. Also, if he can use his size more effectively in his own zone, it might make opponents think twice about trying to take him outside.
I struggled to include Read in this section for the same reasons he remained undrafted, but did so at my behest because it appears I value him a bit less than others. The 25-year-old had an incredible rookie season, and if he can continue at that pace his contributions versus his cap him make him a tremendous asset for any cap-strapped playoff club over the length of his rookie contract. The big question with Read revolves around how he will follow up last years performance. If he takes his game to a new level or at the very least maintains it, he stands as one of the younger Flyers players and teeters on the bubble of the core, but any form of regression could quickly make him the type of asset the Flyers look to move before he comes back down to earth.
This is a big season for Read to show he’s an undrafted success story, and hopefully not why he went undrafted. In addition to his team-friendly cap hit for his age, Read’s calling card is his versatility. Usually finding success throughout the season in any role he faced, knowing Read can be successful in a wide range of scenarios is tremendously helpful for Peter Laviolette.
At this point, you get to the guys that sometimes have more emotional value to a franchise than they might have elsewhere, effecting the way they are perceived as assets. For example, Hartnell is currently a god among those who call the Orange and Black their team, but does he hold the same value outside of the organization given his lack of a track record and somewhat inflated cap hit?
A lot of teams might struggle to find a spot for him in their top three and on the first power-play unit, much like the Flyers have done with tremendous success. With an expiring contract, #19 was set to draw supreme interest as a rental. Instead, he’s been locked up to a quite similar contract that takes him well into his thirties, pretty much killing any trade value he may have had to a team close to the cap. The contract isn’t atrocious, especially when you consider his meager raise over the drastic increase in cap space, but it isn’t one that makes him a target of supreme interest. For now, the Flyers are fine with this situation, and they will be until Hartnell plays his way off the top line (or someone plays their way onto it).
The same can be said for Briere, a guy who has been worth his weight in gold during the playoffs but has struggled with inconstant play and poor discipline at the worst times. At 34 years of age, this tiny pivot is only growing less effective, and with a $6.5 million cap hit he looks completely avoidable. Keep this in mind: Danny B’s actual salary is set to drop to a mere $3 million after this season expires, and again to $2 million in it’s final year. In the right situation, a small market team might look to acquire a contract like this to challenge the cap floor without actually having to pay an equivalent in salary, while also gaining a valuable post-season asset. The only issue here is the no-movement clause that also came with this contract, a clause that would have to be waived by the player himself before anything could happen. As far as it stands, that doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon.
Bringing up the rear are two rear guards that seem most poised to evolve from this category into legitimate trade bait: Meszaros and Grossmann. At 26 and 27 years of age respectively, the question with these two revolves around health, but they have proven to be stable contributors from the blue line and they are only just reaching the prime of their careers. Meszaros is coming off of a bad back injury and even worse Achilles tear, but seemed poised to break his rookie point total of 39 that still stands as a career high with the right combination of role and ice time. With a contact structure opposite to Briere, Mesz is set to make more than two million more over the final two years of his contract than his cap hit suggests, making it hard for teams to inherit this financial risk without much recent success, but a healthy season can turn that all around very quickly.
Grossmann sits in a similar boat, but with more of a defensive orientation to the game. He’ll never stand out for his offensive prowess, but with a clean bill of health he is an asset to any blue line for $3.5 million per. Problem is, a clean bill of health will always be tough to maintain for a man who bases his game on blocking shots and playing physical. Grossmann isn’t sexy and will never be a tremendous asset, but players like Grossmann help you win playoff games, and winning playoff games is how you win championships. A full season of Grossmann on the blue line should settle the Flyers down in their own zone significantly, as long as he doesn’t stretch his game to offset the loss of guys like Carle and Meszaros (while he recovers).
Bringing up the rear is this interesting mix of vets, particularly Timonen and Fedotenko. These are the types of vets that playoff teams look to acquire to put the finishing touches on their roster.
Talbot is in a similar boat, but with four years on his contract I’m hesitant to include him because he isn’t a rental, but Timonen and Fedotenko can be had with out mucking up your cap breakdown long term. If the Flyers find themselves out of contention, these are the types of guys they would be willing to sacrifice to receive some assets in return, particularly a healthy Timonen. It’s well documented what these guys would bring to the table, and with no significant impact on the roster long term, they are easy to jettison (though I hate to minimize Timonen’s role and tenure on this team). Simply put, you dangle a guy like Kimmo and hope that a defensive starved playoff team overpays. In an ideal world, this would be the modern day equivalent of Coburn for Alexei Zhitnik.
NOT MENTIONED / NO VALUE: Jody Shelley, Andreas Lilja, Bruno Gervais, Ilya Bryzgalov
I’m not going into much detail here, but these guys are pretty much irrelevant in trade talks. Only Bryz can work his way out if this categorization, but it would take the type of seasons that would make the Flyers hesitant to trade him anyways. He’s here to stay, but at least has the talent level to find success in the future.
PROSPECTS WITH VALUE:
Just for fun and completeness, here’s how I rank the Flyers prospects as assets. Keep in mind, the Flyers organizational depth beyond the NHL level is ‘meh’ at best with seemingly little high end upside, and much of these ratings are based on word of mouth and :
1. Kyle Wellwood (His playoff performance in the second-round loss to the Devils would warrant a Flyer in my front office alone. Blazing speed that has the ability to be a factor at NHL level)
2. Scott Laughton (Based strictly on the Flyers track record with forwards in this area of the draft)
3. Nick Cousins (Falling with his recent legal troubles)
4. Erik Gustafsson
5. Marc-Andre Bourdon
6. Shayne Gostisbehere (Ghost looked solid at Junior USNTD camp while playing with more heralded rear guards his age)
7. Harry Zolnierczyk
8. Tom Sestito
So that is how I see the Flyers roster if we were analyzing the roster as trade assets. Where do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments or on twitter!