Flyers

With deadline nearing, who is the Flyers' next trade chip?

With deadline nearing, who is the Flyers' next trade chip?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Boruk and Jordan Hall.

The question: Who is the Flyers' next trade chip?

Boruk

So far, general manager Chuck Fletcher has been the butcher with a meat cleaver, trimming the fat from the Flyers' roster by parting away with players who don't seem to fit into the GM's future plans. Fletcher has found takers for Jordan Weal, Taylor Leier, Dale Weise and Christian Folin — a quartet of players who had fallen out of favor within the organization.

Aside from the obvious decision surrounding Wayne Simmonds — and I believe he will be moved before the Feb. 25 trade deadline — there are some other interesting names that could surface and be on the move, as well.

I’ve touched on impending free agent Michael Raffl, a relatively inexpensive depth forward who plays big and provides an extra body on the penalty kill. With a cap hit of $2.35 million, most teams won’t have to negotiate their way around the salary cap to fit Raffl onto their roster.

But if there’s a potential trade to be made within the next week, there are some decisions looming around the goaltending position. Teams know that with Brian Elliott close to returning, the Flyers will be looking to place Mike McKenna on waivers. McKenna has been claimed once (by the Flyers) and the guy he replaced, Calvin Pickard, was claimed by Arizona. 

For teams desperate for goalie depth, then I wouldn’t be surprised if another team took a proactive move and offered up a seventh-rounder rather than crossing its fingers, hoping a goalie might fall to it through the waiver process.

With the Stars losing Ben Bishop a week ago and the Coyotes playing without Antti Raanta for much of this season, there are two potential playoff teams who could be looking for experience and depth at the goaltending position, as well. One reason to play Elliott once he’s completed his conditioning stint with the Phantoms is to see if there’s a market for the 33-year-old goalie with 45 postseason games under his belt. 

Playoff experience is valuable and difficult to find and if there’s a team willing to take a chance on Elliott’s recent injury history, then a late-round pick is not much to give up for a veteran goalie capable of winning a few postseason games.  

Hall

Part of me believes we could see another defenseman on the move, which would open up a spot in the lineup for prospect Philippe Myers (see story).

Radko Gudas comes to mind because he's played extremely well this season and would be a nice bottom-pair addition for a contending team looking for depth, physicality and reliability on the back end. The 28-year-old can become an unrestricted free agent after 2019-20 and his contract is reasonable ($3.35 million cap hit, $2.5 million base salary next season).

However, Raffl is such an intriguing piece for buying teams when considering the factors, which makes him the next most likely trade chip.

The 30-year-old is a power forward with an excellent hockey IQ, a player who utilizes his size for great puck possession, kills penalties, can play up and down the lineup and has 19 games of postseason experience. Add the fact that he's an impending UFA with a cap hit of just $2.35 million, and it simply makes sense for suitors and Fletcher, who is eyeing next season just as much as this one.

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Future Flyers Report: Could prospect Connor Bunnaman be headed back to NHL soon?

Future Flyers Report: Could prospect Connor Bunnaman be headed back to NHL soon?

It’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

• The Flyers' depth at forward is being seriously tested.

The team is without Travis Konecny (concussion, out indefinitely), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger, out approximately four weeks) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder, out indefinitely).

Going into their three-game road trip, the Flyers have only 12 healthy forwards. In his fifth stint with the big club since the beginning of 2018-19, Mikhail Vorobyev is centering the Flyers' fourth line. The 22-year-old is in audition mode yet again with the Flyers and will have to be noticeable in limited minutes to stick.

How Vorobyev performs moving forward and the Flyers' depth concerns could open the door for Connor Bunnaman. The 21-year-old forward made the Flyers' season-opening roster. He's healthy again with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley after missing nearly a full month because of a lower-body injury.

Bunnaman brings size and positional versatility as the 6-foot-3, 214-pounder can player either center or winger. This past week, Bunnaman scored a goal and had eight shots in three games.

The Flyers may want to have him play more games with the Phantoms before calling him up. However, they may need him soon. Bunnaman has Raffl-like potential and ability.

On Sept. 26, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher spoke highly of the 2016 fourth-round pick who scored 19 goals in 62 games with Lehigh Valley last season and two goals this preseason.

He’s been the best player in training camp. He was outstanding in the practices. ... By best player, I mean in terms of expectations. He’s come in and blown them away.

He honestly seems twice as fast this year to last year. I know we make a habit of saying players are quicker and faster but this guy is legitimately much faster than last year and he scored 19 goals last year, had a heck of a year in the American League.

There’s no reason to doubt that he can play some games for us this year.

The Phantoms play Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Flyers play Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Keep an eye on Bunnaman and the big club's bottom-six depth.

Quick hits

• Noah Cates is continuing to turn heads.

As a sophomore, the 2017 fifth-round pick leads defending national champion Minnesota Duluth with nine goals and is a point-per-game player (16 points in 16 contests).

The 20-year-old winger is coming off a four-point weekend (three goals, one assist) in the Bulldogs' two-game sweep of Omaha.

The Flyers couldn't stop bragging about Cates this summer and are probably bragging some more to each other this week.

"I just need to play the way I can play, especially these next couple years with my development," Cates said in June. "They're on board with that, they're happy with where I'm at, but I've got to keep making strides."

He's doing just that.

• Cam York, the Flyers' 2019 first-round pick, recorded a goal and an assist in Michigan's 4-1 win over Penn State last Friday.

The mobile and skilled puck-moving defenseman owns nine points (four goals, five assists) in 14 games as a freshman.

• Egor Zamula enjoyed a three-point weekend for the Calgary Hitmen.

The 19-year-old is third among WHL defensemen with 28 points (seven goals, 21 assists) in 28 games and has a plus-19 rating.

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Flyers' Travis Konecny out indefinitely with concussion after hit from Mark Borowiecki

Flyers' Travis Konecny out indefinitely with concussion after hit from Mark Borowiecki

VOORHEES, N.J. — Monday started with bad news for the Flyers.

Travis Konecny, their 22-year-old leading scorer, is out indefinitely with a concussion.

Konecny was leveled in open ice by Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki during the first period of the Flyers' 4-3 win Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center. He left the game and never returned.

The 2015 first-round pick is on pace to shatter his career highs. He's been arguably the Flyers’ most important piece to their turnaround through 30 games of 2019-20.

He has 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) after having 28 points through the team's first 50 games last season. The Flyers are 2-4-4 in games that he hasn't scored.

I didn’t know a ton about him. I knew he competed like hell, fiery player," Matt Niskanen, in his first year with the Flyers, said Monday. "Playing with him, that’s reinforced that thought — hungry on the puck, good quickness, really good at creating turnovers. He’s shown a pretty good scoring touch, too, so far this year. A lot of good tools and he’s been a really important player for us.

Philippe Myers left the Flyers' skill practice Monday with back spasms. With Konecny out and Myers potentially out for Wednesday's game in Colorado against the Avalanche (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN), the Flyers will most likely have only 12 healthy forwards and six healthy defensemen to open a three-game road trip.

Niskanen, who has 125 career postseason games on his résumé and a Stanley Cup title, said this can be a good challenge for the Flyers. The team is 12-3-4 and tied with the Capitals for the most points in the NHL at 28 since Nov. 1 (see weekly observations).

"Both guys have played really well for us," he said. "Hopefully they come back, we've been on a pretty good run here. But it gives somebody an opportunity and it tests us a little bit — and that's OK, early in the year, you're going to have to learn to deal with things."

As of Monday morning, the Flyers did not have plans to make a call-up. Forward Chris Stewart will enter the lineup and defenseman Robert Hagg will, as well, if Myers is unable to go in Colorado.

Head coach Alain Vigneault said it's uncertain if Konecny will or can travel with the Flyers. The team flies to Denver Tuesday afternoon.

"At this time, I would say no," Vigneault said, "but you never know how things change."

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