Why Erik Karlsson to the Flyers could make sense

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Why Erik Karlsson to the Flyers could make sense

The Ottawa Senators are just a dumpster fire and will continue to be one until owner Eugene Melnyk sells the club.

Senators fans deserve better than the dysfunction taking place in Canada's capital city. If you need to catch up, start here.

All caught up? Good. Erik Karlsson's time as a Senator appears to be limited by hours and perhaps days. If you're a Sens fan, that's a painful sentence to read. I'm sorry.

There are two reports that matter. The first from NBC Sports' Kathryn Tappen.

And the second from the New York Post's Larry Brooks.

Now before we move forward, the Flyers have not been linked to Karlsson in the ridiculous amount of trade speculation that has spun around the internet since last season began.

But many did not foresee Flyers general manager Ron Hextall coming out swinging in free agency by signing James van Riemsdyk. Hextall announced that his process is ramping up.

As's Joey Alfieri writes, "Philadelphia has plenty of quality prospects at their disposal and the roster is young enough that they can afford to move some of them away."

With that, let's take a closer look at why Karlsson to the Flyers isn't as crazy as it sounds but remains improbable.

Why it makes sense

For starters, players like Karlsson don't become available very often and this summer, two superstars have been or are available. The first star was John Tavares, who was an unrestricted free agent before he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Tavares handpicked the six teams he was interested in: the Islanders, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Sharks, Bruins and Stars. The Flyers were not on the list, but it wasn't because they didn't want to be.

Hextall made that clear last Friday, saying "we would have liked to have been in there." It's Hextall's duty as general manager to explore all options. Of course, he called Tavares. And he'll likely ping Senators GM Pierre Dorion about Karlsson.

Even with signing JVR, the Flyers still have money to spend. Hextall said Sunday that he doesn't envision signing a center and will continue to monitor the market for a defenseman but doesn't want to go term on the players who are available.

Look at the free-agent crop and you can't blame Hextall for not wanting to overpay for mediocre defensemen who will only block Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers and Samuel Morin.

Karlsson is a totally different animal. He's an elite defenseman, a five-time NHL All-Star and a two-time James Norris Memorial Trophy winner. He's averaged 0.83 points per game throughout his career, ninth-most ever by defensemen. The next closest active player is P.K. Subban, who averages 0.65 points per game. Karlsson is pretty, pretty, pretty good at hockey.

Last season, Karlsson registered 53 assists and 62 points in 71 games for an 0.87 points-per-game clip on an atrocious Sens team. At 28 years old and even with some serious injuries in his career, he hasn't shown any signs of losing his offensive gifts.

For the Flyers, it's worth poking around. Karlsson carries a $6.5 million cap hit for 2018-19. For argument's sake, let's say the Flyers acquire Karlsson, they'd have about $8.2 million in cap space without taking into account players going the other way.

The point is, they have money to spend and fitting Karlsson in would not be a problem. As for Karlsson's extension, because any acquiring team would want to sign him first, that's a bridge to cross down the road.

Ivan Provorov has a major extension coming his way and Travis Konecny has a raise on the way too. Nolan Patrick's entry-level contract isn't that far away from expiring. But that's why the Flyers have people in charge of the cap.

They have money to spend and adding Karlsson into the mix, without subtracting too much from the current roster, would elevate the Flyers into a Stanley Cup contender now.

Why it probably won't happen

Trading for Karlsson would require a king's ransom and while Hextall did show he's willing and capable of striking big in free agency, trading away top prospects is a different story.

Hextall has built up one of the strongest farm systems in the league and has enough assets to start selling off. It's also why it would make sense for the Flyers to be in on Karlsson. They have the prospect pool to land Karlsson in a trade.

But Hextall builds through drafting and developing. Signing van Riemsdyk doesn't change Hextall's philosophy. Rather, it just affirms that he's willing to go big-game hunting when he deems it to make sense.

If — and this is a big if — the Flyers could negotiate an extension with Karlsson, then we have to consider the asking price. We don't know what Dorion is seeking for Karlsson, but you'd have to think it begins with at least one young, impact NHL player, a high-end prospect and significant draft picks. You'd think a competent organization would ask for, say, Konecny and either Sanheim or Shayne Gostisbehere plus a prospect and at least one first-round pick for Karlsson.

Ottawa isn't exactly competent, but the price would be a lot. Would Hextall be willing to give up Konecny, Sanheim or Gostisbehere plus a prospect and picks for Karlsson? That remains to be seen. I'd steer clear from that bet.

But the Flyers trading for Karlsson isn't that insane of a thought. Right now, though, it's just that.

More on the Flyers

Morgan Frost provides a highlight but Flyers are left looking for more answers following 4th straight loss

Morgan Frost provides a highlight but Flyers are left looking for more answers following 4th straight loss


Morgan Frost offered a snapshot of what the Flyers hope is a prosperous future for the skillful playmaker.

The present on Tuesday night did not depict as pretty of a picture.

The Flyers fell behind 4-1 during the second period, Carter Hart was yanked and a 5-2 loss to the Panthers at BB&T Center marked the final result.

Frost gave the Flyers a highlight on a night that didn't feature many for Alain Vigneault's club. The 2017 first-round pick deposited a dazzling goal in his NHL debut but the Flyers (10-7-4) dropped their fourth straight game, a losing skid that has come directly after a season-best four-game winning streak.

The Panthers (11-5-5) can score goals with the best teams in the NHL. They were also allowing 3.55 per game, fourth worst in the league, but kept the Flyers at bay.

• Hart had been so good in November. When he's not on his game, the Flyers can be exposed, which is exactly what happened against Florida.

The 21-year-old goalie entered 4-1-1 with a 1.77 goals-against average and .934 save percentage this month. He wasn't good Tuesday, the Flyers didn't help him and things unraveled.

The first period set the tone when the Panthers' first goal went off Andy Andreoff's stick. Then Hart allowed Brett Connolly to score from a crazy angle off the netminder's back.

Hart had allowed only one first-period goal over his previous five starts. Florida got him twice in the opening frame and ended his night midway through the second period with its fourth goal.

• The Flyers have now allowed more goals (61) than they've scored (60). During the four-game losing streak, they've scored 1.75 goals per game.

Vigneault continues to plead for more from his veterans. They simply have not answered his call and the Flyers are more than a quarter way into the season. The Flyers' record is very indicative of what they've received from their big boys.

Kevin Hayes recorded his first point in 10 games with a first-period assist on Travis Sanheim's goal. He played 19:01 minutes, four-plus at shorthanded. James van Riemsdyk went scoreless and played 12:56, his second-lowest ice time of the season. Jakub Voracek went scoreless, as well, in 15:31 minutes.

That trio has combined for 30 points in 21 games. The Flyers have to find a way to spark those three, along with Claude Giroux.

• Frost was a nice positive. He played with pace, he was active and was consistently a threat. His goal was very Frost-like.

Expect Vigneault to give him another game with Giroux and Travis Konecny.

• Joel Farabee made a costly turnover that led to Aleksander Barkov's second-period goal, which put the Flyers in a 3-1 hole. The Flyers were also slow to get back on the play. Bad all the way around (see highlights).

The 19-year-old was a minus-2 with three giveaways. He's a kid and there will be growing pains. Farabee snapped his stick in frustration when he went to the bench. Now it's a matter of seeing if he can play his way out of some struggles.

• Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen were a combined minus-5. Shayne Gostisbehere played only 14:33. While the Panthers pounced on mistakes, the Flyers couldn't fend them off or get much going at 5-on-5.

The Flyers went 0 for 2 on the power play.

• The Flyers stay on the road and visit the Hurricanes Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).


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More on the Flyers

Flyers' Morgan Frost scores first career NHL goal in filthy fashion

Flyers' Morgan Frost scores first career NHL goal in filthy fashion

When he received the news on Sunday that he was being called up to the Flyers, Morgan Frost thought about the hard work it took to make the NHL.

The kid scored 106 goals and 310 points in 257 junior hockey games for the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Over his final two seasons, he erupted for 221 points (79 goals, 142 assists) in 125 games.

That's a lot of scoring, which got him noticed.

“It’s obviously cliché, but it’s every kid’s dream, you dream about it growing up," Frost said Monday of being called up to make his NHL debut. "Honestly, after I got that call, I didn’t really know what to do for like an hour. So much joy, just so many things running through your head and everything you’ve worked for. Great feeling.”

Now he has the feeling of scoring his first career NHL goal. And, boy, did he show his skill while doing it Tuesday night against the Panthers at BB&T Center.

When the 20-year-old center gets in deep, he can make these types of plays on a goalie, even Sergei Bobrovsky.

Frost will always remember that one.


Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers