Buy, Sell, or Tweak. The Flyers at the Deadline

With year 1 of the rebuild going better than expected the Flyers found themselves in a predicament at the NHL trade deadline. That was reached at 3 PM EST on March 8, 2024. Do they sell and continue to amass assets for the future, do they buy and go “all in” on a Stanley Cup run in 2024, or do they tweak and continue to steadily improve the team? The Flyers answered all these questions on March 8th.

Now in context teams across the NHL could freely trade with each other from July 1, 2023, but for purposes of this article, we will focus on the moves the Flyers made before the March 8th trade deadline. Names like Scott Laughton, Nick Seeler, and Sean Walker have been rumored for months to be the pieces the teams around the NHL were focused on.  Let’s see how they did.

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Sell

Two days before Friday’s 3 p.m. ET NHL trade deadline, the Flyers moved Sean Walker and a 2026 fifth-round pick to the Avalanche in exchange for a conditional 2025 first-rounder and Ryan Johansen.

Per national reports, the Flyers placed the 31-year-old Johansen on waivers Wednesday. He cleared waivers unclaimed and was assigned to the LV Phantoms. Walker, a 29-year-old right-handed defenseman, was having a career year for the rebuilding Flyers. He’s on an expiring contract and was among the club’s top trade chips.

Walker surprised just about everyone in Philadelphia. He arrived last summer in the three-team Ivan Provorov trade, a move made by the Kings very much to clear the salary cap. Flyers head coach John Tortorella had to do his homework on Walker, reaching out to then-Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan for a scouting report.

With the Flyers, Walker has had a career resurgence after suffering a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee not even two and a half years ago. Playing mostly alongside Nick Seeler on the Flyers’ second defensive pair, Walker put up six goals, 16 assists, and a plus-9 rating over 63 games.

Buy

Simply put, the Flyers needed more depth in defense. They are currently without Jamie Drysdale, Nick Seeler, Risto, and traded Sean Walker, and traded to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday. They’ve had to call up Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms as reinforcements. But neither of those defensemen has much NHL experience. Erik Johnson, the first overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, has plenty of it. In his career, he’s played 970 games, collecting 340 points (91 goals, 249 assists) in that span.

 At 35 years old, he’s no spring chicken. But the Flyers defense will benefit immensely from his leadership and experience. It’s not exactly a long-term investment. But it could do wonders in teaching the already-promising young defensemen the Flyers do have. And at the expense of only a 4th round pick in this year’s draft, it’s not an unfair exchange by any means.

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Tweak

It’s always a bit of a disappointment to see a younger player depart the organization, especially in Wade Allison’s case. Where he did get his share of NHL looks, but couldn’t stay healthy enough to fully prove himself at the top level. Ever since getting drafted in 2016, he spent most of his time in the organization in the AHL. He has not played any NHL minutes so far in the 2023-24 season.

 In return, the Flyers get a boost for their offense, trading for the Nashville Predators’ Denis Gurianov—a player of the same age and position as Allison. It adds more depth to their forward lines and brings plenty of his own experience at just 26 years old. He’s played 294 NHL games, recording 113 points (52 goals, 61 assists), including 14 games played this season with one goal and one assist to his name.

Danny Briere stated that Gurianov will be getting his opportunity for the Flyers right away, adding even more options for head coach John Tortorella as he continues to try and find four solid, consistent forward line combinations.

So, to answer what the Flyers should do at the deadline, buy, sell, or tweak. The answer is D for all the above.

Matt Bednarczyk
Matt Bednarczyk

Matt Bednarczyk is your host of Talking Philly Sports With Matty B. He is a proud retired US Army Sergeant First Class, he is also a combat veteran with over 80 months served in Afganistan, and Iraq . Huge Hockey Fan. Matt is a lifelong 4 for 4 Philly sports fan. Born and raised on the Mayfair and Tacony neighborhood lines of Northeast Philly. He brings over 40 years of Philadelphia Sports passion and provides a realistic look at our Major Sports Teams and the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Look for his show live on Edge of Philly Sports.

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