Dropping the Gloves: Are the Flyers a playoff team?
We’ve said it before: You seldom see blockbuster trades at the NHL trade deadline or even the days leading up to it anymore in the NHL salary-cap world.
Those deals often come after the season leading into the NHL draft and free agency.
Yet, that kind of transaction unfolded Friday night when the St. Louis Blues rolled the dice and paid the Buffalo Sabres dearly to acquire goalie Ryan Miller and center Steve Ott.
Buffalo got Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a first-round pick in 2015 and third-rounder in 2016 in return.
That’s a very steep price for general manager Doug Armstrong to pay.
Yet it shows you how determined he and coach Ken Hitchcock are to winning a Stanley Cup and how far they have to go to match the "Big Three" in the Pacific Division -- Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose -- all of whom stand in their way to winning that Cup.
Let’s be honest. Neither Brian Elliott nor Halak have shown themselves to be the kind of goalie that can get a team into the Stanley Cup Final or win it. No Jonathan Quicks there.
I’ve always wondered what might have happened had Miller played his best years on a strong, all-around team that got progressively better over time. One that had deep playoff runs and didn’t waffle back and forth from buyer to seller every other year. A team that re-signed its key free agents.
That said, you don’t find too many trade deadline deals where a top goalie acquisition dramatically changed a club’s playoff and Cup aspirations.
Patrick Roy went from Montreal to Colorado in 1995 at the beginning of the season and the Avs won the Cup that spring, but that wasn’t a deadline deal.
Still, that’s what Armstrong is hoping Miller will do. Ott brings a certain toughness and leadership that the Blues could use, as well. Both Miller and Ott are unrestricted free agents this summer.
As St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz points out, since 2008-09, the NHL’s top two centers who lead the way in “hits” have been Ott (1,382) and the Blues very own David Backes (1,257).
I don’t see the Flyers making that kind of a bold move this week at Wednesday’s deadline. Plus, their needs are different: an impact defenseman.
They might be able to upgrade on defense, but getting a Shea Weber or Alex Pietrangelo kind of player won’t happen.
Unless Nashville decides it doesn’t want to pay out Weber’s $10 million bonus on June 30.
Still, there may be players available who could upgrade the Flyers’ blue line: Andrew MacDonald (Islanders), Tyler Myers (Buffalo) and Alex Edler (Vancouver), are three names we’ve heard.
One more thing. Rangers captain Ryan Callahan is going nowhere.
A: Put it this way. Emery overcame huge odds back in 2009-10 by rehabbing AVN disease in that right hip. It was thought by many he would never play again. He beat the odds. Had this been a recurrence of that issue, the Flyers would have had no choice but to get another goalie. I don’t think the organization feels Cal Heeter is ready to be a steady backup. Plus, during a stretch drive it’s a risky proposition for a team bent on making the playoffs.
A: That may very well be true but Ott has shown a ton of leadership in recent years and brings an edge that many feel the Blues have lacked.
A: Agreed. That’s why Armstrong was willing to give up a ton of assets.
@tpanotchCSN Just another sign Philly should sell this year. They lose any chance at rebuilding d-line without moving Schenn/ coots if not.— Kyle Pineda (@KylePineda2) March 1, 2014
A: You were referring to the Flyers maybe signing a backup goalie if Emery’s injury was serious and that wasn’t the case. The Flyers want a d-man. I know Vancouver may move Ryan Kesler, but seriously, the last thing the Flyers need is another centerman. They would love to put Vinny Lecavalier there where he belongs, but they can’t. They would be better off with a swing forward who can play either wing. Still, I feel they will focus on a d-man. You don’t move Sean Couturier unless you have a deal that brings you that coveted impact defenseman. Not sure which Schenn you refer to, but I think they would move Luke Schenn as part of that bigger package to get an impact blueliner.
@tpanotchCSN Oh my god, why not? Selling is best option in their spot.— Jack G (@Mile_High_Gibbs) March 1, 2014
A: Look at the Metro division. You can lose a few in a row and still be in the playoff hunt. You can catapult several spots with a win or two. Too many clubs in the East are still very much in the playoff hunt which means they are all “buyers.” Probably more sellers coming out of the West than the East.