Leafs should probably be shopping the Flyers

Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
1 year ago
Part of me wonders if the Leafs having their pro and amateur scouting meetings in Philadelphia was a coincidence. Maybe it was just the first weekend after Christmas and the World Juniors and the earliest available date before the start of trade season (most likely) or maybe there was someone specific the Leafs wanted to see (Travis Konecny, hello) but the Leafs would have had a lot of eyes on the Flyers and now the Flyers seem to be very much open for business.
That is very much the Flyers throwing in the towel for the season, it’s not necessarily saying the Flyers are rebuilding/retooling/reimaging/re-whatever, but with James van Riemsdyk and Justin Braun as their only notable UFAs heading into the trade deadline it will be interesting to see how much they will be tearing down their team when they carry a $74.6M cap commitment into next season.
The Flyers certainly have a few players that aren’t worth the trouble. Bringing in Ivan Provorov or Tony DeAngelo into Toronto is inviting the circus to town, so let’s immediately rule them out. Carter Hart isn’t a need for the Leafs despite the recent success with reclamation project goaltenders, they are completely full up. And I think his time in Philadelphia has really just provided the evidence that Rasmus Ristolainen really was that bad in Buffalo and it wasn’t just an analytics thing. If a GM is going to make a bad decision for their blueline they are better off with Erik Gudbranson in Columbus because they’d at least save a bit of money.
There really are a lot of reasons the Flyers are this bad, but there are a few players worth talking about if they were to become available too. The Flyers have some decent options to explore that may or may not be available and we’ll start with the most popular option to consider and that’s Travis Konecny.
In the event that Travis Konecny is available, this is 100% a player the Leafs should have interest in. He’s on a reason cap hit with term, he’s the same age as most of the Leafs core, he brings that physical/agitating style of hockey that the Leafs could use more of in their top six. In short, he’s the perfect target and one that you pay almost any price to get.
That said, Konecny wasn’t so great before Tortorella showed up and has thrived under him. Are the two now somewhat intertwined were Konecny needs a coach like Tortorella to get the best out of him and is Konecny a player that Tortorella will fight tooth and nail to keep? That seems like the biggest barrier here and while the Flyers could use the cap space it’s hard to imagine there’s a better use of $5.5M on their roster than Konecny, so I’m hesitant to believe this dream scenario can happen.
Kevin Hayes is the more expensive and older alternative to Konecny and that should potentially make him more available as anything other than an immediate turnaround in the roster means Hayes will age himself out of being part of the solution in Phildelphia. That said, those last couple of years of his contract are a buyer beware situation for most teams as well. There’s also the fact that there is nothing resembling defense in Hayes’ game and despite his size, he is not the physical presence that Konecny is either. What he is though is a player who can line up on either the wing or at center and maybe he’s a cost controlled alternative to re-signing William Nylander, who is the better player, but certainly be more expensive.
Scott Laughton is having a career year and the Flyers might be wise to case in here. Laughton will set career highs in every offensive category this season and for the record that means surpassing 13 goals and 32 points in a year, while carrying a $3M AAV cap hit. I might like Laughton and his strong physical game, but he doesn’t represent a significant upgrade production wise over Kerfoot or Engvall and while at times he has looked capable in his own zone, his numbers don’t support him having success in that role. Laughton would lead the Leafs in hits and has been playing just under 19 minutes a night. He’s also back to being primarily utilized as a center providing a team like the Leafs with a safety net in that regards.
The priority for the Flyers when it comes to moving a blueliner is probably Ivan Provorov. That being said, the one that teams actually want is likely Travis Sanheim. Like most of the Flyers, Sanheim is experiencing a down year, but away from the Flyers he should improve and be at least a reliable 3D on most teams. Sanheim would be similar to TJ Brodie and could make sense a possible successor to his role. While his cap hit would be hard to fit in, he is one of the defensemen that could significantly move the bar if added to a strong roster. He just won’t be a cheap addition.
When it comes to looking at cheaper options, Nick Seeler would be an interesting way to go, and the fact that he is decent bottom pairing/7D add with the cost control for next season of a $775k cap hit, there will be interest here too.
Finally, it goes without saying that Morgan Frost, as the non-DeAngelo Soo Greyhound option, is a possible target for Kyle Dubas too.
To summarize, the Flyers have some interesting options and a GM (Chuck Fletcher) with a history of poor judgment calls. Even if it isn’t the Leafs dealing with Philly, they certainly seem like a team poised to make the trade deadline fun.

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