Flyers

Should the Flyers trade Wayne Simmonds?

Should the Flyers trade Wayne Simmonds?

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

The question: Should the Flyers trade Wayne Simmonds?

Boruk

Before I proceed with whether the Flyers should sign or trade Simmonds, the first underlying issue that needs to be identified is whether the Flyers value Simmonds as part of the leadership core with his character and style of play to make a multi-year commitment.

There are a handful of championship-caliber teams that desperately need Simmonds' toughness and grit, not to mention how he plays around the net. However, Simmonds has been part of the Flyers' cog for eight seasons now and it's worth taking a hard look at the construction of this team and whether it has the right blend of talent and leadership. 

With Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and now James van Riemsdyk all under contract for several more seasons, I contend that the Flyers can't bring this core group back next season. It's not working. They haven't advanced in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2012, and those key players I mentioned aren't getting any younger. This isn't like the San Jose Sharks in 2016 when they finally had a breakthrough, reaching the Cup Final after so many years of coming up short.

Simmonds brings a unique skill set that is increasingly becoming rarer to find in this league, but I also realize he's a defensive liability with a minus-50 rating since 2016. He's not the most defensively responsible forward on the team and the Flyers don't have very many two-way players at the forward position.

If I'm general manager Chuck Fletcher, I simply can't go longer than a three-year extension with Simmonds. Part of the issue over the past seven to 10 years has been locking up players with long-term contracts and then paying the price for that extended term down the road. If Simmonds doesn't accept a short-term offer, then trading him before the deadline would only make logical sense.

Hall

It just makes the most sense.

The Flyers need to trade Simmonds and for a few reasons.

Firstly, Simmonds is incredibly valuable and has all the characteristics contending teams covet over the stretch run into the playoffs.

Here is what TSN's Bob McKenzie said on NBCSN this week:

The expectation is there's going to be a lot of teams that call because there are not many guys that can stand in front of the net on a power play like Wayne Simmonds, that have the speed and the character and the tenacity and the size and the strength — all those things that go together with the skill set that he's got where he could be very much in demand.

Secondly, the Flyers need to start retooling. It's past the midway point of the season and the Flyers entered Thursday at the direct bottom of the 31-team NHL standings.

Simmonds, who has been an absolute bargain for the Flyers, will be in for a possible five-year deal while turning 31 years old in August. The Flyers already have veterans locked up to longer deals worth more money, so here's the best chance to restructure the look of the roster a bit and bring back assets in a year that is lost.

And I expect it to happen by the Feb. 25 deadline.

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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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Flyers weekly observations: Scott Laughton's importance, high praise for Ivan Provorov

Flyers weekly observations: Scott Laughton's importance, high praise for Ivan Provorov

While the Flyers lost their winning streak and point streak, they still put together a productive 2-1-0 week.

Alain Vigneault's team is 7-1-1 over its last nine games, a stretch in which the Flyers have allowed 2.11 goals per game. Since Nov. 1, the Flyers are 12-3-4 and tied with the Capitals for most points in the NHL at 28, continuing to make strides under the new coaching staff.

We'll get into that and more with our weekly observations:

• Scott Laughton's performance in Saturday's emotion-filled 4-3 win over the Senators served as a microcosm of his importance to the Flyers.

The team-first attitude, the hard skating, the physicality, the forechecking, the penalty killing and the secondary scoring.

He is not undervalued by the Flyers.

If I look at today’s game where it got heated, he’s one of the guys I thought that responded the best. He responded in a physical nature when the opportunity was there, but when he needed to make plays with the puck or defend, he did that — he did both of those things.

As a coach, it’s really easy to trust a player when he’s doing the right things and playing the right way on the ice.

- Vigneault

And check out these marks: the Flyers are 7-0-0 when Laughton records a point and 6-1-1 since his return following a 13-game absence because of a broken finger.

• In 30 games, Ivan Provorov has already matched his goal total from last season (seven) and set career highs on the power play (four goals, six assists).

He's projected to pass his numbers from a breakout 2017-18 season in which he scored 17 goals and 41 points. The 22-year-old's rebound from his letdown 2018-19 campaign might be the most impactful development to the Flyers' overall rebound so far in 2019-20.

Before the Coyotes' 3-1 win Thursday over the Flyers, Arizona head coach Rick Tocchet extolled Provorov.

"I think he's one of the best young defensemen in the league," Tocchet said, via Coyotes public relations.

"He plays with an edge in a sense that he doesn’t play safe. He’s up the ice, he makes plays, he’s not scared the way he plays. Not so much scared physically, just the way he plays, he’s trying to win the game. As a young guy, he wants to be in those spots. When I watch him, he wants the puck. I love young kids like that, they’re not scared.”

When asked if Provorov reminded him of anyone, Tocchet said "a little bit of Phil Housley," who is a Hall of Fame blueliner and now an assistant coach with Arizona.

• Carter Hart owns 10 wins and a 2.39 goals-against average.

By Dec. 8 of last season, Brian Elliott, Calvin Pickard, Anthony Stolarz, Michal Neuvirth and Alex Lyon had combined for 12 wins and a 3.30 goals-against average.

As much as some people want to knock the previous coaching staff, the Flyers were a mess in net at this point last season and things predictably unraveled. Really, from the outset of 2018-19, things were problematic between the pipes for the Flyers.

• One of the biggest signs of growth with the 2019-20 Flyers has been goal prevention. They've allowed 80 goals through 30 games. In 30 games last season, the Flyers gave up 111. That's 31 more goals.

A lot goes into that — goaltending and offseason acquisitions to name a few. But Vigneault's system has turned the Flyers into a more structured team.

Much more often compared to 2018-19, the Flyers, even if they're struggling to score, look like they're controlling games instead of letting the opposition do the honors. Through 30 games last season, the Flyers had 11 losses by three goals or more. This season, they have only four such defeats.

 

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