Flyers

Johnny Gaudreau trade buzz? Flyers should only think about welcoming him for 1 game

Johnny Gaudreau trade buzz? Flyers should only think about welcoming him for 1 game

VOORHEES, N.J. — Johnny Gaudreau is coming to the Wells Fargo Center.

No, he did not get traded to the Flyers. He is playing them Saturday.

Moderate buzz has circulated on the beloved interwebs regarding the possibility of Gaudreau being dealt by the Flames. Rewind to 2018-19, the mere thought would have been chastised and deemed ludicrous.

However, Calgary is severely underperforming during 2019-20 after going 50-25-7 with 107 points last season, second best in the NHL to only the Lightning. The Flames are 10-12-3 and have lost six straight, a stretch in which they’ve scored 0.83 goals per game while allowing 3.83.

When a team isn’t in the vicinity of its high expectations, bold ideas come to mind and serious questions are asked.

Kevin Hayes, who said Gaudreau is one of his best friends after the two played together at Boston College, understands this is a part of the NHL in today’s world.

“We haven’t talked about the trade [rumors] at all,” Hayes said Friday after practice. “He’s one of the best players in the league. I’m sure if they were winning every game, there would be no trade talk at all.”

Flyers fans, undoubtedly, know well of “Johnny Hockey.” Gaudreau is from South Jersey and played at Gloucester Catholic High School. The electric 5-foot-9, 165-pound winger has blown up on the NHL stage, becoming a five-time All-Star by the age of 26. He scored a career-high 99 points (36 goals, 63 assists) last season.

Naturally, the local hockey fans will always hold out hope for Gaudreau coming home. The key word is hope. Right now, it is purely hopeful and for many reasons.

Think about the package the Flyers would have to send to the Flames. We’re talking about young, already established NHLers, top prospects and high draft picks.

The Flyers are in Year 1 under general manager Chuck Fletcher and head coach Alain Vigneault. A GM is never quick to give up on his plan or tamper with it to a great degree so early in a season, especially for one player. Fletcher and Vigneault like the club’s current state as they mold the Flyers into their own. The team’s younger cornerstones are starting to blossom, prospects are making an impact and they’re all surrounded by an experienced core. 

Whether some see it or not, there’s a lot to like.

Simply put, the Flyers are not in trade mode. Thanksgiving has yet to arrive and the Flyers are better than they were last year, having shown progress but with room for further growth. 

Can things change when the Feb. 24 trade deadline is closer? Absolutely, and that brings us to a guy like Morgan Frost. The playmaking center, along with fellow prospects like winger Joel Farabee and defenseman Philippe Myers, could have a loud say in what Fletcher and the Flyers aim to do when the trade market actually heats up. What might the Flyers need then?

Frost, a 2017 first-round pick with a bright future, has opened his NHL career by making a bang, scoring two goals and three points in two games. It has been only two games and Frost is only 20 years old. His ceiling, though, is excitingly high.

Farabee, a 2018 first-round pick, rapidly climbed to the Flyers and has shown flashes in 16 games. He’s a point-producing winger that can play all over the lineup. Finding consistency through the NHL grind at just 19 years old will be his challenge.

Myers, a 6-foot-5 blueliner with offensive skills, didn’t crack the Flyers’ season-opening roster but made his way back and has shown why in 10 games. The Flyers want to see the 22-year-old be sound and smart as best he can on a game-to-game basis.

“I’ve said this many times, talent has no age,” Vigneault said Friday. “I’m looking to have the best possible team that is going to give us the best possible chance to win. I don’t care if you’re 43 or you’re 18, whoever is ready to play and whoever is going to help us win.”

Gaudreau probably isn’t a thought right now because the Flyers believe in their kids and the process overall. Saturday is Game 23 for the Flyers. They’ll play the Flames. Gaudreau will come and go.

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Flyers vs. Sharks: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Sharks: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The Flyers are ready to audition some new faces with 20 games to go in their playoff push.

With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, the Flyers (35-20-7) host the Sharks (26-32-4) Tuesday.

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• Nate Thompson has gotten used to this. He has been traded in February 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The 35-year-old center still appreciated the phone calls from his new teammates. Thompson, who the Flyers acquired Monday in a trade with the Canadiens, said he heard from Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes last night.

"That was really nice," Thompson said Tuesday after morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center. "Whenever guys reach out to you and make you feel welcomed, it’s always nice to hear."

Thompson and fellow trade acquisition Derek Grant will make their Flyers debuts tonight.

Grant, a 29-year-old center with positional versatility and defensive qualities, already has a career-high 14 goals. Coming from the Ducks, Grant can cap his best NHL season yet by helping the Flyers make the playoffs.

“It’s always fun," he said. "I didn’t know anyone really here. I met [Thompson] at the hotel this morning, so we came over together. Everyone has been great, it’s always a little easier when you can get into a game right away and get to know guys a little quicker that way.”

Right now, the Flyers will slide Thompson into their fourth-line center role and he'll help on the penalty kill. Grant will play third-line center between James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Pitlick, while also contributing to the PK.

Assistant coach Ian Laperriere and the Flyers got both players acclimated with film work before morning skate.

“All done, they got in here this morning, they sat with Lappy," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. "We’ve got a system video that we show all new players, whether they’re guys from Lehigh Valley or in this case guys from other teams, about our priorities and how we do certain things. It went extremely well, we had a team video session, they were very comfortable there.

"I expect them to be excited, motivated and expect them to help us get their first win with us.”

• The Flyers sit in third place of the Metropolitan Division, a point ahead of the Islanders and Blue Jackets, and three points up on the Hurricanes.

Tuesday marks a big night for the race as New York, Columbus and Carolina are all in action. With a victory, the Flyers can draw within one point of the second-place Penguins.

The Flyers hold an 82.3 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Hockey-Reference.com.

• The Sharks have lost four straight games and own a minus-31 goal differential on the road.

Since Jan. 8, the Flyers are 13-5-1 with an NHL-high 68 goals.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Derek Grant-Tyler Pitlick
Michael Raffl-Nate Thompson-Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Justin Braun

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

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Flyers have good laughs, good sense on Shayne Gostisbehere trade rumors

Flyers have good laughs, good sense on Shayne Gostisbehere trade rumors

When it came to Shayne Gostisbehere, Chuck Fletcher had a good sense of humor at Monday's NHL trade deadline.

The general manager also had good overall sense.

No, the Flyers weren't looking to shop the defenseman, nor should they have been as the trade market unfolded.

The Twittersphere probably suggested otherwise.

"That’s been the interesting one," Fletcher said of Gostisbehere at Flyers Skate Zone. "I’ve been here a year. I can’t say I'm always on social media but I’m amazed at how often I’m trading him."

The Flyers didn't move Gostisbehere and they weren't expected to. Is he a nice trade chip? Of course, he has shown how productive he can be when he's making plays along the blue line, he's not far removed from a career 65-point year in 2017-18, he's only 26 years old and he's under contract for the next three seasons at a comfortable $4.5 million cap hit.

But you don't just play your chips to play your chips. And Fletcher will have this chip moving forward, when it might be more playable. Gostisbehere's trade stock was far from its peak Monday. He has missed 18 of the Flyers' last 19 games because of a left knee injury and is enduring his worst NHL season as he's projected to finish with career lows in goals (seven) and points (18).

Even if the Flyers weren't opposed to moving Gostisbehere, why do it now?

"We were certainly not looking to move him," Fletcher said. "Teams have called me on him. Nothing really makes sense right now to me to move one of our seven D unless we’re getting a really great impact player back in some area. Those types of trades usually don’t happen right now."

A thought process could be that the Flyers possess young depth on defense and quality blue-line prospects in the system, like Egor Zamula, Cam York and Wyatt Kalynuk, to name a few. If the team wanted to drastically improve an area of need with a splash, shedding from defense would have been a route to pursue. It wasn't happening, or at least not now at this deadline.

After a conditioning loan to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley last weekend, Gostisbehere is back with the Flyers, who are getting healthier at a position of strength. Fletcher wasn't going to mess with that.

"I like Shayne," Fletcher said. "He’s gone through a few weeks, probably over a month now with some knee issues. He’s cleaned it up. He skated really well this weekend. Right now, we are carrying seven D. He’s one of them. He’s a guy that I think can still contribute. He can play on the power play.

"Frankly, I think Shayne can get back to where he was and help us. If he can take a step and get that confidence back offensively, that would be a big boost to our team."

And it would fuel the conversation everywhere. Especially on social media.

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