The NHL offseason takes a little while to get revved up, but teams are stepping up to the starting line this week.
The first big deal of the offseason occurred on Monday when the Chicago Blackhawks traded legendary defenseman and three-time Stanley Cup winner Duncan Keith to the Edmonton Oilers. This trade could have an impact on the Flyers' offseason plans, not because of Keith directly, but rather because of what opportunities may be in play for Chicago after unloading the veteran Keith and acquiring young defenseman Caleb Jones, younger brother of Seth Jones, as part of the trade.
Since both the Flyers and Blue Jackets’ seasons ended, there have been several reports of trade talks between the two teams regarding Seth Jones. The Flyers' top priority is likely a No. 1 defenseman. It would appear Chicago is now in search of a No. 1 on the blue line, as well, and with the Blackhawks having younger brother Caleb now in their system, this could make Chicago an attractive destination for the elder Jones.
The offseason has been a quiet one and the Keith trade may be the move that gets the ball rolling, especially given where we are on the NHL calendar.
“We have all the events that may involve player movement really happening literally within a 10- or 12-day period,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said at a press conference Tuesday. “Once you get past the first day of free agency, the amount of players that are available and the amount of cap space available will be much more limited. So I guess there’s pressure in the sense that if you have moves you want to make, this is when you have to try to make them.”
Fletcher acknowledged that a lot of conversations in this flat-cap climate across the league have been dollar-for-dollar discussions, and that there aren’t a lot of teams able to take on a lot of money, which makes things more complicated.
With the expansion draft and free agency looming, Fletcher predicted that the majority of player movement will take place over the next two weeks. Buckle up.