The trade dominoes are starting to topple around the NHL and the Flyers are expected to be in on the action as well.
"I could see us buying and selling, I guess to use those terms," Chuck Fletcher said. "But the bigger focus is, we'd like to get some pieces in here that will be a part of this for a few years."
Here are the five likely candidates Fletcher could move in order to get that accomplished.
Simmonds is arguably one of the most highly-coveted players on the trade market. Cup contending teams would love to add a 25-goal scorer who works the trenches while providing a net-front presence on the power play. Fletcher mentioned that Simmonds isn't the only priority moving forward with several key RFAs that all need new contracts.
"We have lots of holes and a certain amount of money in which to do it with the salary cap," Fletcher said Monday. "We're just trying to balance everything and make the right decision, but certainly in a few weeks I think it will be resolved one way or the other."
Possible Teams: Nashville, Winnipeg, Calgary, Toronto
(The above-mentioned teams are in win-now mode and have all been linked to Simmonds)
What happens if Simmonds isn't traded?
He'll be signed to an extension. However, I just don't see a scenario where Simmonds is unsigned or not dealt prior to the deadline, and I fully expect the latter to happen. His value will never be higher than what it is between now and Feb. 25.
Weise reported to the Phantoms this week, where he will be buried until further notice. It's an unfortunate situation for both sides, but a mistake that was made the moment the ink was dried on a four-year contract. Weise never brought that energy and physicality the Flyers were hoping for.
"Dale's not going to be a part of this going forward, so we'll try to find him another team to go to," Fletcher said. "He's obviously hungry to get playing, and to find a situation that's better for himself."
Possible Teams: Any willing trade partner
What happens if Weise isn't traded?
He'll be leveraged as part of an offseason trade. If that doesn't pan out, then Fletcher will buy out the remaining year on his contract with a reasonable cap hit spread out over two years ($1.18 million in 2019-2020 and just $583,000 in 2020-21).
Raffl's in the final year of his contract that pays him $2.35 million. Now relegated to the fourth line, he has become expendable. Trading Raffl would also open up a roster spot for someone like Nicolas Aube-Kubel, who was called up in November. If Fletcher was able to squeeze a sixth-round pick from Arizona for Jordan Weal, then certainly Raffl can command a mid-round pick.
Possible Teams: San Jose, Vegas, Colorado
The Sharks have an extra fifth-rounder in 2020 and Vegas has three fifth-round picks in 2019 at its disposal. To get out of the Western Conference can be punishing and Raffl's size and strength may be an asset worth taking a chance on.
What happens if Raffl isn't traded?
He'll simply become a free agent on July 1.
The Flyers are staring at a logjam on the blue line next season with Sam Morin and Phil Myers also NHL ready. I believe the organization values Gudas and the toughness he brings having tailored his game to the style of play we see now in the league. His contract is manageable at $3.35 million through next season. I expect Fletcher to hold onto Gudas as the Flyers make a push into February. If they can't close the gap, then Gudas could be on the move.
"We'll have to see what our health is," Fletcher said. "I don't anticipate moving players out just to play young players."
Possible Teams: Montreal, Minnesota
The Canadiens and Wild are two teams that could benefit from Gudas' rugged style of play and could use one more right-handed shot on their respective blue lines.
What happens if Gudas isn't traded?
Could still be packaged in a deal over the summer or sticks around for one more season. However, Fletcher is also looking to add a top-four defenseman over the summer and Gudas doesn't seem to fit that mold.
Personally, I don't see Ghost going anywhere before Feb. 25, but there have been quite a few rumblings in regards to the Flyers' 25-year-old defenseman. Hockey analyst Bob McKenzie mentioned Gostisbehere on TSN radio in Montreal:
"Gostisbehere is a name that's been out there, but I don't know that it's at the top of the list of things that Chuck Fletcher wants to move out of town. That's not to say that he wouldn't for the right price."
Possible Teams: Anaheim, Vancouver
The Ducks and Canucks are two teams that could use Ghost's big shot on a sluggish power play. Anaheim would love to add a veteran defenseman as they recently acquired Michael Del Zotto through a trade with the Canucks for Luke Schenn.
What happens if Gostisbehere isn't traded?
If he's not a part of the Flyers' top power-play unit moving forward, it will be interesting to see how and where Gostisbehere fits into Fletcher's plans after this season.
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