Grading trade deadline deals in Flyers' division

Grading trade deadline deals in Flyers' division

The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang have concluded, but the final 19 games of the NHL’s regular season are shaping up like the final few laps of a short track speed skating race in which the competition is jockeying for positions before the final sprint to the finish.

Now that the eight teams in the Metropolitan Division have made their moves, let’s grade their deadline deals.

Added: Goalie Petr Mrazek; defenseman Johnny Oduya

Lost: Defenseman Mark Alt

Ron Hextall acted swiftly and decisively in acquiring Mrazek from the Red Wings following the injury to Michal Neuvirth. It was essential for the Flyers to upgrade the position after losing their top two goaltenders. I’m not sure the Flyers get much of an upgrade with 36-year-old Oduya over the 26-year-old Alt, but he certainly adds playoff experience with 106 postseason games played. It will be interesting to see if Oduya assumes Alt’s role or takes playing time away from Brandon Manning. Regardless, it’s a slight upgrade.

Grade: B+

Added: Forwards Derick Brassard, Josh Jooris, Tobias Lindberg, Vincent Dunn; 2018 third-round pick

Lost: Forwards Ryan Reaves, Greg McKegg; defenseman Ian Cole; 2018 first-round pick, 2019 third-round pick

Brassard slots in perfectly onto the Penguins' third line. He plays a solid two-way game and can bring some scoring punch to Pittsburgh’s bottom six. Reaves played really well in two games against the Flyers. It will be interesting to see if the Pens miss Reaves' physical presence. Eventually, giving up first-round picks has to catch up to Pittsburgh management. At 27, Jooris has been a journeyman. GM Jim Rutherford typically goes big and bold on this day, but did neither.

Grade: B 

Added: Defensemen Michal Kempny, Jakub Jerabek

Lost: 2018 third-round pick, 2019 fifth-round pick

Kempny moves into the Capitals' everyday lineup while Jerabek adds depth in the system, but is not expected to contribute right away. Washington simply didn’t have the cap space to make a major move without unloading salary at the same time.

Grade: C 

Blue Jackets
Added: Forwards Thomas Vanek, Mark Letestu; defenseman Ian Cole

Lost: Forwards Jussi Jokinen, Tyler Motte, Nick Moutrey; 2018 fourth-round pick, 2020 third-round pick

As the second wild-card team right now, the Blue Jackets are looking to make that playoff push by adding scoring winger Vanek coupled with veteran depth and leadership. Ranked 29th in goals scored, the Blue Jackets were desperate to add offense. Solid penalty killer Letestu rejoins the Jackets after leaving in 2015. Cole was a player I thought the Flyers might pursue to provide some depth in the event of injury. Columbus now has a rather solid three defensive pairs moving forward and didn’t give up a draft pick in the top two rounds.

Grade: A-

Added: Forwards Michael Grabner, Patrick Maroon

Lost: Defensemen Igor Rykov; 2018 second-round pick, 2018 third-round pick

The Devils want to play with pace and they added one of the fastest players in the league in Grabner, who scored 25 goals this season prior to the trade. Grabner can also chip in on the penalty kill. The second-round pick seems to be a steal considering what Vegas forked over for Detroit’s Tomas Tatar. New Jersey also added size with Maroon, who played sporadically with Edmonton this season. The Devils needed depth at the forward position and they got it.

Grade: A

Added: Forwards Vladimir Namestnikov, Brett Howden, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey; defensemen Libor Hajek, Ryan Lindgren, Rob O’Gara; 2018 first-round pick, two 2018 second-round picks, 2018 third-round pick, 2019 seventh-round pick

Lost: Forwards J.T. Miller, Michael Grabner, Rick Nash; defensemen Ryan McDonagh, Nick Holden

A mass Manhattan exodus as the Rangers' rebuild is now in full swing. They could have as many as eight picks in the first three rounds of the 2018 draft. They traded the captain McDonagh and received the Lightning’s top two selections (Howden, Hajek) from the 2016 draft, plus a first-rounder. It’s a good return but will this put the Rangers back on track in four to five years? Difficult to say. McDonagh is the toughest loss. If you’re grading purely on the return, the Rangers did well.

Grade: A-

Added: Forward Chris Wagner; defenseman Brandon Davidson 

Lost: Foward Jason Chimera; 2019 third-round pick

The Islanders gave up a third-rounder for a defenseman who was placed on waivers earlier in the season. Wagner isn’t much of an upgrade over Chimera, if any, but he’s younger and cheaper. For a team that has surrendered more goals than any other team in the league, the Islanders did very little to improve in that area.

Grade: C- 

Added: Forward Greg McKegg

Lost: Forward Josh Jooris

A week ago, the Hurricanes were still pushing for a wild-card spot, but since then, they've faded fast, having lost five straight. Carolina GM Ron Francis had some pieces that he could have moved whether that was Justin Faulk, Justin Williams or even goaltender Cam Ward, who’s in the final year of a contract. Ward would have been a good fit with the Islanders.

Grade: D  

Breaking down why Flyers traded Cooper Marody

Michigan Athletics

Breaking down why Flyers traded Cooper Marody

The Flyers on Wednesday traded NCAA prospect Cooper Marody’s rights to the Edmonton Oilers for a 2019 third-round draft pick that originally belonged to the New Jersey Devils.

Marody enjoyed a breakout junior season at Michigan University in 2017-18. The 21-year-old led the Wolverines with 32 assists, 46 points and 1.24 points per game.

His 32 assists were tied for third-most in the nation, while his 46 points were tied for ninth most. He made the Big Ten All-Tournament team and was the Big Ten scoring champion.

Let’s make sense of why the Flyers moved Marody and why it’s a good return.

One, he was a 2015 sixth-round draft pick with little NHL upside. Essentially, this boils down to a sixth-round pick netting you a third-rounder, which has a higher probability of hitting.

Two, the Flyers’ pipeline is loaded with forwards, and the book on Marody doesn’t project him to be a top-six forward. Think of him as a solid AHL player with bottom-six NHL potential.

Three, the contract limit. The Flyers are currently at 47 contracts, three under the limit. Sure, four players are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this summer with four more hitting restricted free agency. They could easily fit Marody under the contract limit but it goes back to No. 2.

Another potential factor is the 2019 third-rounder the Flyers owe the Red Wings if they make the playoffs since Petr Mrazek has won five games already with the team. They now have a third-rounder in that draft.

Any way we slice it, the Flyers turned a sixth-rounder into a third-rounder. If Marody proves the Flyers wrong, so be it. If not, it's no big deal. The chances of winning this trade are higher than losing it.

Why Flyers should ride Alex Lyon, not Petr Mrazek

USA Today Images

Why Flyers should ride Alex Lyon, not Petr Mrazek

When the Flyers acquired Petr Mrazek from Detroit out of necessity in February, Ron Hextall explained the trade as a reward for his players’ hard work.

“We’re in a tough situation — you lose your top two goalies when you’re fighting for a playoff spot,” Hextall said then, “and our players have worked hard for a long time now. I didn’t feel like it was fair to not have a proven NHL goaltender for this team.”

One month later, Mrazek has been erratic, and the Flyers’ grip on a playoff spot is loosening. With eight games remaining, Dave Hakstol owes it to his players to ride the steadier goalie, and that's not the proven NHL goaltender.

For the second time in six days, Hakstol was forced to pull Mrazek on Tuesday night, and for the second time in six days, Alex Lyon battled in relief, giving the Flyers a chance in a game they otherwise had no business being in.

Lyon stopped 11 of 12 shots Tuesday, holding off a determined Red Wings team and allowing the Flyers to fight back from a 3-1 deficit and force overtime. They lost, 5-4, in a shootout, but the point was huge.

We’re tired of hearing that too. But at this stage, and with how the Flyers have played in March, any point is needed. The goal is the playoffs, and right now, the Flyers cannot trust Mrazek.

What we’ve seen from Mrazek in his short time here explains why the Red Wings soured on him.

Mrazek showed glimpses of his potential in his first three starts as a Flyer, but since, he’s been inconsistent and unreliable.

In his last nine games, Mrazek’s 2-5-1 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .865 save percentage. He's allowed fewer than three goals just once. There have been far too many bad goals along the way too.

Last Thursday, Mrazek was pulled after yielding his fourth goal against the Blue Jackets, a team the Flyers are jockeying with for playoff position in the Metropolitan Division.

That relief appearance earned Lyon the start Saturday in Carolina, where he was again steady. Hakstol went back to Mrazek on Sunday and then again Tuesday.

Now, it’s time to ride Lyon until the rookie shows wear on his tires and until either Brian Elliott or Michal Neuvirth is healthy enough to return, which likely will not be until closer to the final week of the season.

Lyon has not looked out of place since his second call-up of the season Feb. 11. In six games — three starts — he has a .933 save percentage.

The 25-year-old passes both the numbers and eye test, and it’s time to show faith in him.

After Tuesday’s loss, the Flyers dropped to the top wild-card spot, with Columbus leap-frogging them to third in the Metro. Both teams have eight games left. The Flyers are four points ahead of the Devils, who have one game in hand.

Then, there are the Panthers, five points behind the Flyers with three games in hand. Per Hockey-Reference, the Flyers have an 88.8 percent chance at the postseason.

We’ve seen crazier collapses happen, though. When March began, the Flyers were one point behind the first-place Capitals. They’ve picked up just eight of a possible 22 points this month.

At this point, it’s about surviving, and Lyon gives the Flyers a better shot to stay above the line than Mrazek.