Contrary to my personal belief just this morning, the Flyers were active during today’s NHL trade deadline day. However, was it the kind of action I or many other Flyers fans envisioned? I would say most likely not.
To be honest, I do not know if today’s moves taken by GM Chuck Fletcher can be classified as either a “buying” or “selling” type of transaction. That’s been the discussion over the past few of weeks as the Flyers have struggled against everyone in the Eastern Division—should they be looking to buy or sell at the deadline?
I would argue neither really happened, and that is exactly what a good size of the fanbase feared would be the case. Contracts for players such as the likes of Jake Voracek and James van Riemsdyk are still sitting on the books, with plenty of fans disappointed with their lack of being traded. Could the lingering stench of mediocrity that’s stuck to this team (minus last season) for most of the past decade be rearing its ugly head again here?
Let us start with the biggest move Fletcher made today: Resigning Scott Laughton to a five-year $3 million per year contract extension.
When I initially saw that Laughton had resigned, I was not surprised to see him stay. The reports had trended from “there is plenty of interest around the NHL for Laughton” to “the consensus league-wide seems to be Scott will resign with Philly.”
I was quite surprised to see that his extension was for five years, though. The initial reaction I saw on social media was negative to say the least, with many preferring for him to have be traded. My opinion of the deal is pretty neutral, if there had been a scenario where he could have been packaged in a deal for, say Nashville‘s Ryan Ellis or another quality defenseman I would have been all for it. Securing a quality NHL player for his prime at essentially a hometown discount is not the worst thing to happen to the Flyers. It also basically guarantees Laughton will be protected in the upcoming expansion draft, which could make things more interesting this summer.
Besides the resigning of Laughton, two players were traded away earlier this afternoon.
Defenseman Erik Gustafsson was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for a 7th round pick in this years NHL Entry Draft. Philadelphia is retaining 50% of Gustaffsson’s salary, which is no big deal as his contract expires after this season. I think everyone can agree that he just did not work out, his defense was not good and it is a shame that more was not done in the previous offseason to shore up this blue line. It is also a shame that the Flyers could only get a 7th round pick for him.
Longtime Flyer Michael Raffl was traded to the rival Washington Capitals, this time for a 5th round pick in this year’s draft (25% salary retention). His deal expires at the end of this season as well, and it made sense for the Raffl and the Flyers to part ways. There will be a lot of young players trying to fight for those bottom-six minutes next season. He was a solid depth piece for years and was beloved in the locker room, who knows maybe he makes a cup run with Washington this year.
I can understand the frustration if you happen to be a Flyer fan who wanted the team to start “cleaning house” so to speak, yet at the same time this team is only four points behind the Boston Bruins. If they don’t blow the game against the Sabres yesterday, the deficit is only two points. I suppose at this point your best chance is to hope Fletcher makes some moves in the summer, whether those moves are a “buying” or “selling” mentality.
This team has been so frustrating, and still is not definitively out of the playoff hunt. With no defensive reinforcements arriving at today’s deadline, it will be interesting to see if this group can pull together and turn things around.
They face off against Raffl and his new team in the Capitals tomorrow night, puck drops at 7:00 PM.