NHL trade deadline 2024: Why Flyers should sell some of their attractive assets despite overachieving season

Written by on March 4, 2024

The Philadelphia Flyers thrived at times under the leadership of head coach Alain Vigneault, but ultimately never produced the deep Stanley Cup runs the team was hoping for. Vigneault was fired in December 2021, but the franchise’s struggles continued. 

General manager Chuck Fletcher had made a bevy of big signings that hamstrung the franchise, including signing forward Kevin Hayes to a seven-year, $50 million contract in 2019 and trading for defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. Fletcher also signed Ristolainen to a five-year, $25 contract, and Ristolainen has produced a fairly underwhelming tenure during his time in Philadelphia.

The Flyers fired Fletcher from his post in March 2023, and that was the beginning of the franchise’s resurgence. Philadelphia brought in former players Keith Jones as the president of hockey operations and Danny Briere as the new general manager, and Briere has since made some very bold and productive moves. 

In June 2023, the Flyers traded defenseman Ivan Provorov to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of a three-team deal that netted the franchise defenseman Sean Walker, goaltender Cal Petersen, defenseman Helge Grans, a 2023 first-round pick (No. 22 overall) and a conditional 2024 or 2025 second-round pick.

In January 2024, Briere made the boldest move of his tenure when he traded former No. 5 pick Cutter Gauthier to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Jamie Drysdale. The Flyers were under the impression that Gauthier didn’t want to play in Philadelphia, so they traded his rights for a proven commodity in Drysdale.

The Flyers were expected to be embarking on another rebuilding year in 2023-24. Instead, the franchise has overachieved in a big way as it’s currently entrenched as the No. 3 seed in the Metropolitan Division as the Stanley Cup Playoffs creep closer.

That certainly makes the trade deadline a lot trickier than Philadelphia may have imagined. The Flyers figure to be postseason bound based on their current position, and that would lead some to believe the team should be looking to buy at the trade deadline. However, considering they have a very young and promising roster, it makes a ton of sense for Briere and company to unload a few veterans to obtain more assets for the future.

Here’s a look at some of the Flyers that could be on the move prior to the trade deadline.

Sean Walker

The most likely name to be on the move could be defenseman Sean Walker. The veteran blue-liner was acquired by the Flyers in a three-team trade involving defenseman Ivan Provorov last summer, and it would make a ton of sense for Walker to be dealt ahead of the trade deadline.

Walker is currently second on the team in points (22) among defensemen, behind only Travis Sanheim. The 29-year-old has a very attractive cap hit at just $2.65 million, so contending teams shouldn’t have too much trouble absorbing his salary in a potential deal. Walker may not be an elite option, but he’s a tremendous fit in a team’s top two defensive pairings on the blue line. While he’s not a dynamic offensive player, Walker still can jump into the play and put the puck into the net when he needs to. 

Since Walker is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, It certainly behooves Philadelphia to get some value in return for Walker if they don’t intend on re-signing him. It’s possible the Flyers could land a first-round pick in exchange for his services, so Walker is the most likely Philadelphia player to be dealt.

Scott Laughton

It’s unlikely the Flyers will ship many of their forwards out of town at the deadline. However, one that could fetch a solid return is Scott Laughton.

This is a situation where Philadelphia could take advantage of a market that doesn’t feature a ton of intriguing options at the center position following the trades of Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan. Laughton is a very attractive option for a contending team that may be looking for a third- or fourth-line veteran presence. Laughton is currently in the third year of a five-year contract extension he signed back in 2021. That means that an acquiring team would have two more full seasons of control when it comes to Laughton, plus his $3 million cap hit isn’t going to hinder any team’s payroll too much.

Laughton obviously isn’t a lethal scoring option, but is a very physical forward that will provides a ton of grit. The 29-year-old did score a career-best 18 goals a season ago, so the scoring numbers can be there at times. Considering the Flyers have significant depth at the forward position, it wouldn’t be shocking if they moved Laughton for a solid return.

Nick Seeler

The Flyers could be very active when it comes to their blue line leading up to the trade deadline, and that includes potentially dealing defenseman Nick Seeler. 

Much like Walker, Seeler will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so it’s possible the Flyers elect to ship him out of town. According to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, the two sides were negotiating on a potential contract extension, but those talks weren’t “received overly well” from Philadelphia’s standpoint. The Flyers are likely looking for an average-annual-value in the $2.5-3 million range, while Seeler is reportedly looking for more on an annual basis.

Seeler currently has 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in 60 games this season. The veteran defenseman really found a home in Philadelphia after previously spending time with the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild. Seeler is a rugged blue-liner that isn’t afraid to dish out a thunderous check or lay down to block a shot. If the Flyers don’t make any headway on a potential contract extension, it’s likely the Flyers would attempt to trade Seeler to avoid being left empty-handed if Seeler signed elsewhere in the offseason.

The post NHL trade deadline 2024: Why Flyers should sell some of their attractive assets despite overachieving season first appeared on CBS Sports.


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