The trade deadline is Wednesday, April 3.
It seems pretty obvious right now that the Flyers aren’t going to be buyers.
When was the last time you saw general manager Paul Holmgren sit back idly when his chief nemesis, Pittsburgh’s Ray Shero, actively went out and loaded up the Penguins?
Pittsburgh picked up two forwards in Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla and stay-at-home defenseman Douglas Murray over the past week.
Murray is the exact counterpart to the Flyers’ Nick Grossmann – two Swedes without Swedish names who block shots, hit and are solid guys in front of the net.
It’s logical that Holmgren wanted to see what the Flyers did this week during the homestand before making a decision about what to do next week.
He said Saturday any moves won’t be for “rental purposes” but looking toward next season. As it should be.
No one watching this Flyers team in March could possibly draw a conclusion that this is a club making a playoff run.
Now just because the Flyers won’t be buyers, doesn’t mean they will be sellers.
They may sit pat and realize the bulk of the work to reshape this club has to come during the offseason, not now. Which is what club chairman Ed Snider said on Saturday.
Put it this way, had the Flyers wanted to sell off assets, two players who would have been gone by now would have been Danny Briere and Max Talbot.
Boston had serious interest in Briere and would have gone into next week with the same interest in acquiring him had the Flyers' forward not incurred a concussion. And losing out on Iginla? Yeah, Briere was a perfect fit for Boston.
At this point, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli simply can’t make a deal for a player whose concussion symptoms could linger for a long time. So, one of the NHL very best playoff scorers will remain a Flyer.
And while Briere has said he wouldn’t waive his no-movement clause, it’s very likely that if the Flyers were going to do this and told him he was a candidate for an amnesty buyout this summer when the club remakes the roster, Briere would have moved.
As for Talbot … Shero never quite understood why Talbot left Pittsburgh and didn’t give the Penguins a chance to get an offer ready two summers ago.
Talbot had a tremendous, career-year last season as a Flyer, but like so many other players on this club, saw his season fall apart after the lockout.
It’s hard to find any veteran forward on this club and say he’s been very good this year outside of young Jakub Voracek, though Wayne Simmonds gets an honorable mention.
Now here’s the rub. It’s painfully obvious to the naked eye that the Flyers' defense is a mess.
Had Holmgren managed to get Shea Weber or Ryan Suter last summer, you have to think the entire fortunes of the blue line would have changed dramatically and the Flyers' goals against all-around would have come down.
That’s not to say this team would be No. 1 in the Eastern Conference, but either of those players would have made enough difference to keep the Flyers in a playoff spot.
Scotty Bowman put it bluntly a few weeks ago in Tampa Bay when he was scouting the Flyers.
“It’s so hard to find good, young defenseman, guys who can make a difference,” he said. “They’re hard to come by, hard to trade for. No one wants to give them up. And when they get them, they keep them.”
The only way, he said, for the Flyers to get a young, impact defenseman is if they are willing to part with a top young player.
The Flyers went into season feeling that Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier were their No. 1 and 2 untouchables.
Giroux, the captain, will remain untouchable, regardless of how things shake out between now and the summer.
However, don’t be surprised if the Flyers rethink their position of Couturier. Forget his sophomore slump.
Other GMs will peg this Flyers team as an “aberration,” and not the usual standard. They will assess there are issues that have affected this team’s collective desire to compete and win.
Couturier remains a player coveted by any GM in the NHL. Which is why Couturier likely has to be part of any trade to upgrade the Flyers' defense.
As bad as this Flyers team has been this season, there’s no excuse for it not having a playoff spot.
Going into the season, the Flyers were no worse than the third best team in the Atlantic Division behind Pittsburgh and the Rangers.
It's ironic that even the Rangers have collapsed, in part, because they severely underestimated what the losses of grit and glue guys like Brandon Dubinsky, Brandon Prust and Artem Anisimov.
Likewise, the Flyers found out how much a guy like Jaromir Jagr meant to their team, as well.
The point is, don’t look for the NHL trade deadline to solve any of the Flyers' problems and make things right. Ain’t gonna happen.
The real work comes this summer.
The trade deadline is Wednesday, April 3.