With the draft a little over 24 hours away, the rumor mill has begun to churn at full pace. General Managers are getting a feeling of who is available and for what price. Over the next 24 hours leading up to the draft you can fully expect the rumors to come in at an unbelievable rate. Teams will be desperately trying to get cap compliant since it will be dropping from 70.2 million to 64.3 million this year as well. This is only the beginning, but we have some interesting rumors already hitting the twittersphere.
Of course the Philadelphia Flyers are front and center when dealing with draft rumors. Paul Holmgren has a habit of making splashes at the draft, and this year seems to be no different. The Flyers, after completing a highly disappointing season, have already begun overturning their roster. With the buyouts of Daniel Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov(Bryz), the Flyers have freed around 12 million in cap space heading into the offseason. This is too much money for Mr. Holmgren to sit on his hands and not spend; the Flyers seem to be extremely active on all fronts.
First, Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com is reporting the Philadelphia Flyers have interest in St Louis Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak. Pannacio states “the Flyers have made some inquires with St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong about the availability of Jaroslav Halak, who lost the starter’s job to Brian Elliott this past season.”
Panaccio also goes on to say ““The Flyers have been told it’s going to take a very good player, but it won’t take one of their top guys, which Philadelphia was worried about,” the source said. “He could be their No. 1.”
First and foremost, the Flyers are going to be linked to most, if not all goalies who are even remotely on the market since the buyout of Bryzgalov. Halak would fill a major need, and he could provide the Flyers with a formidable one-two punch in net with Steve Mason. Halak also comes in relatively cheap on the last year of a four year 15 million dollar contract, with a cap hit of 3.75 million per year. The two goalies combined would not equal the amount of cap space Bryz took up on his “costly mistake” contract of nine years and 51 million dollars. Halak will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season though, making the trade a risky one. Is it a risk the Flyers should gamble on?
Halak battled through groin/hip issues this year while only entering 16 games for the Blues. While his goals against average was decent, he still only had a save percentage of .899 this year. The St Louis Blues also have one of the NHL’s best defensive groups and forwards in the NHL. Those stats that Halak put up in behind this group are pretty pedestrian. Halak the year before though, put up extremely impressive numbers along with his goaltender partner Brian Elloitt. The two net minders actually went on the win the William Jennings trophy for the fewest goals in 2011-2012. Halak through his career has put up a goals against average of 2.41 while having an impressive .917 save percentage with the Canadiens and Blues. One other plus for trading Halak would be his ability to take over a playoff series. Halak was one, if not, the sole reason the Canadiens made the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010 against the Philadelphia Flyers. He took over a high intensity playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, with his team prevailing in 7 games over the heavy favorite to win the cup.
Now, Tim Panaccio says it will cost the Flyers a very good player, but not one of their top guys. You have to assume the Blues aren’t asking for Sean Couturier or Brayden Schenn, but maybe the likes of Matt Read. The 26 year old Read next year will also be entering the final year of his entry level contract and will be an unrestricted free agent as well. On the surface the trade seems fair to both teams but is trading a top six winger for a goalie battling groin/hip issues a great idea. I understand Halak will be fully healthy by the start of the new season, but these type of injuries can linger, especially with goalies. I don’t see the Blues taking any other players on the Flyers roster as well, so I could see this trade stalemating for some time.
The Flyers also will do their due diligence before making a move for a goalie one will believe. With the rumors circulating about a possible Luongo buyout and other goalkeepers like Hiller and Miller being available, the Flyers won’t rush into making a deal just yet. The Flyers have always been interested in Luongo, just not with the contract he brings along with him. If the Vancouver Canucks do have to buy him out, the Flyers will be keenly interested in his services.
Today, the Philadelphia Flyers towering defenseman was also linked to trade rumors. According to Darren Dreger of TSN.ca, the Flyers are shopping him and there are teams interested in his services around the league.
— Dustin Leed (@D_LEED) June 28, 2013
The two teams mentioned specifically by name by Dreger were the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes. Both teams are looking to upgrade their top four defenseman and Coburn fits the bill. Dreger also goes on to state the Flyers could be looking for a forward in return to make up for lost offense with the departure of Briere. This is where the rumor gets tricky.
Of the two teams mentioned, the Hurricanes and Oilers both have high draft picks in the NHL draft. Could Holmgren be shooting for a high draft pick for Coburn, or looking for immediate impact? Dreger only suggested that could be the asking price. If the Flyers are looking for immediate impact forwards from the Hurricanes, they don’t seem to have many who you would think were available. Tuomo Ruutu and Jiri Tlusty seem to be the best bets, but I think Coburn holds significant more value than both of them. There have been whispers that maybe Jeff Skinner is available for the right deal, but Coburn doesn’t seem like the player they would deal him for.
The Edmonton Oilers are in the same boat as the Hurricanes, they seem to have players that are significantly worse than Coburn, or players who would hold more value than him. I don’t think any of the former first overall picks are available, but could a Coburn for Eberle deal work? I don’t think this fits as well though; Eberle could be packaged in a deal for a better defenseman with more offensive upside I think instead of Coburn.
In my honest opinion I believe the Flyers could be shopping Coburn to try and get another first round draft pick in return. The Flyers have over 33 million dollars committed to the defense. One defenseman will have to be moved this offseason. Andrej Meszaros seems like the better candidate, but with his recent injury history, it is unlikely a team takes a chance on him. The Flyers have interest in a lot of the young high end defensive prospects in this year’s draft, and Coburn might be the only player who can fetch them enough in return to get one.
Flyers having chats with: Calgary, St. Louis, Edmonton, Carolina, among others.
— Dustin Leed (@D_LEED) June 29, 2013
With the aforementioned rumors, it’s no secret the Flyers are in talks with Edmonton and Carolina according to Dustin Leed and Darren Dreger. The Flyers in talks with St Louis also makes sense because of the rumors of the Flyers interested in Halak. The interesting name on this list is Calgary, but not all that surprising. The Calgary Flames assistant General Manager has been interested in Matt Read dating back some time now. I think if the Flyers get a large enough return on the versatile forward, they could ship him out.
Saturday and Sunday are bound to be interesting days, and the next two days could significantly alter the franchise for the foreseeable future. Buckle up Flyer fans, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!