With the holiday roster freeze six days away, expect the speculation game to heat up. The trade deadline is still 10 weeks away, but business is starting to shake out. We’ve seen a couple of minor trades this week and some player movement on the waiver wire.
Since Chuck Fletcher took over as the Flyers’ general manager last week, he’s engaged with half of the league, a source told NBC Sports Philadelphia. Fletcher will be busy over the course of the next two months as he looks to upgrade his roster. He reportedly wants to add a veteran defenseman, a top-nine forward and upgrade goaltending.
The Flyers are not the only team seeking change. Another team that had lofty expectations entering the season is the Blues, who have already fired their head coach Mike Yeo and replaced him with former Flyers coach Craig Berube on an interim basis.
According to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, Blues GM Doug Armstrong wants to “rattle the cage,” is in “listening mode” and is “open-minded in terms of what comes next.” The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford told 101 ESPN Radio St. Louis on Wednesday that Armstrong “is in a situation where all bets are off” and, well …
The scuttle-buck that I’ve heard is that a couple general managers around the league have said that they’re hearing the big names are on the block. Everything’s open. Even Vladimir Tarasenko. A GM said, ‘I heard Vladdy’s available.’
Even Tarasenko? Rutherford added that he could see a scenario this season in which the Blues move one of their big names. “I really do think that’s a possibility,” he said. It’s important to note the Flyers and Blues have not been directly linked in trade rumors. With that, let’s take a look at which Blues could interest the Flyers.
This is a no-brainer. If Tarasenko could be had, it’s safe to say every team in the league would call Armstrong to gauge interest. He’s 27, has four years left on his contract that carries a reasonable $7.5 million cap hit, and is one of the league’s premier goal-scorers.
Tarasenko has toppled the 30-goal mark the past four seasons and since 2013-14, has the sixth-most goals (179) and second-most even-strength goals (134) in the league. This season, he has nine goals in 29 games and is on pace for a 25-goal campaign.
Players like Tarasenko don’t become available very often, especially when we consider his contract. He has a no-trade clause, but that doesn’t kick in until next season. Fletcher has a bevy of assets at his disposal, from NHL players to prospects to draft picks — the Flyers have nine selections in 2019. The Blues may want to “rattle the cage,” but moving Tarasenko in-season seems like a panic move. The Flyers have plenty of pieces in the cupboard to acquire a player like Tarasenko but it seems unlikely.
Nick Kypreos reported Saturday on Sportsnet that while the Blues aren’t shopping their captain, Pietrangelo isn’t entirely untouchable. If the Flyers are seeking a veteran defenseman, they likely won’t find a better one available than Pietrangelo. There’s a caveat, though, as he’s currently on long-term injured reserve with a hand injury.
Pietrangelo has a no-trade clause with one more season left on his contract after this season with a $6.5 million cap hit. He’s one of the top two-way defensemen in the league and has been for a while. Since 2011-12, he’s ninth in the NHL among blueliners with 322 points and 10th in assists (250). He has 11 points in 24 games this season.
There’s a lot to like about Pietrangelo. He’s a right-handed shot, can play in all situations and a leader. Pairing him with Ivan Provorov would be a solid fit. As would be the case with Tarasenko, the price tag would be high, but it’s one the Flyers would be wise to consider.
Fletcher has cap space and the assets to make a deal happen. The NTC comes into play. First, is Pietrangelo willing to waive it? And second, would he do so to come to Philly? He’s eligible for an extension this summer and this would be a long-term move rather than a short-term fix.
The asking price would be high and likely cost the Flyers something like three prospects and a first-round pick. You’d think St. Louis would ask for a Morgan Frost-level prospect. It might even cost a young NHL player too. Carter Hart is off the table, but looking at the Blues’ goalie situation, Felix Sandstrom could potentially be part of a package.
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