The NHL offseason sure is long when the Flyers don’t make the playoffs. It’s been more than seven weeks since the Orange & Black last skated, and we’ve still got roughly three to go until the draft or free agency arrives. Just imagine if there was no lockout and the regular season actually ended on time.
We’ll be taking closer looks at the Flyers’ options as those days approach, but according to at least one hockey insider, business might pick up sooner than that. TSN’s Bob McKenzie floated the idea on Sunday that general manager Paul Holmgren could be a busy man this summer as Pro Hockey Talk deftly summarized.
That the franchise will be looking to make some sort of splash during the offseason barely qualifies as news, as such is typically the case around here. Specifically McKenzie mentioned two potential moves to expect from Philly’s front office, one of which would be particularly bold – not like, say, buying out Ilya Bryzgalov’s contract as one of his suggestions entailed.
Also, PHI is in market for D and may be willing to move one of their young centres - B Schenn or Couturier - for the right deal.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 8, 2013
McKenzie is not alone in his thought process. The Bullies’ biggest problems for much of last season were on the back end, where the club was ravaged by injuries and hurt by suspect play by select veterans. Even with the emergence of a few quality young players – Luke Schenn, Erik Gustafsson, and Oliver Lauridsen – you would have a difficult time convincing another person this area is anything other than a glaring weakness. There really are only two questions left to ask.
First of all, is a true number one defenseman available? That is always the unknown as they can be among the most coveted players in the league, and not all of the names that have been tossed out there are definitively ones.
The big name at the moment is Phoenix’s Keith Yandle, who Holmgren reportedly tried to deal for last offseason up until the trade deadline. Broad Street Hockey takes a more in-depth look at the possibility of a Yandle deal, but a soon-to-be-27-year-old who’s been to two All-Star games and is signed through 2016 is going to be tough to pry away, even from (perhaps especially from) a franchise with ownership issues such as the Coyotes.
Which leads us right into question two: what would the Flyers have to package to land Yandle or another D-man of his caliber? Obviously the two biggest bargaining chips are Sean Couturier or Brayden Schenn, a pair of young talents who could develop into stars, and either is likely only going to start a conversation. What else will such a package entail?
It’s easier to judge the merits of any deal after it’s done, but hypothetically speaking would you be willing to give up Couturier or Schenn plus more for Keith Yandle or another top defenseman if you were the GM?
As I’ve written before, I am partial to riding out the current youth movement, thus giving guys like Lauridsen and Gustafsson opportunities to sink or swim, and L. Schenn a chance to be the workhorse, as long as it means holding on to talents like Couturier and B. Schenn. Then again, I can’t deny what a boost it would be for the Flyers to add a stabilizing piece to the defense, and Yandle's youth and contract situation make him an enticing add.
On the off chance Homer isn’t busy making moves this summer, he’ll be working plenty of hours merely weighing the seeming myriad of options in front of him.