Flyers trades

Flyers trade Radko Gudas to Capitals for Matt Niskanen

Flyers trade Radko Gudas to Capitals for Matt Niskanen

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher has already shown that he's a man of action.

Early Friday morning, he made his second trade in a matter of two weeks, sending defensemen Radko Gudas to the Capitals for defenseman Matt Niskanen.

Fletcher acquired soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Kevin Hayes last week (see story).

Gudas spent the past four seasons with the Flyers while Niskanen has been with Washington since the 2014-15 season. In 2019-20, the 29-year-old Gudas will be entering the final year of a four-year, $13.4 million contract signed under former general manager Ron Hextall. According to a report by The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, the Flyers will retain 30 percent of Gudas' $3.35 million cap hit in 2019-20.

This season, Gudas won the Barry Ashbee Trophy for most outstanding Flyers defenseman as Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov endured down seasons. Gudas was a plus-6 and played smarter than he had in years past. He was suspended four times by the NHL's Department of Player Safety during his time with the Flyers.

Niskanen, 32, brings experience and a winning pedigree. He has averaged 22:31 ice time over the past six seasons in which he's compiled a plus-91 mark (see story). He is signed through the 2020-21 season with a cap hit of $5.75 million.

“We're very happy to have Matt join the Flyers," Fletcher said Friday in a release by the team. “He is a veteran right-shot defenseman who has a track record of success as a Stanley Cup champion. Having played heavy minutes in all situations throughout his career, Matt will be a steadying influence to our talented and young group of defensemen.”

Originally the 28th overall pick in the 2005 NHL draft by the Stars, Niskanen is a veteran of 12 seasons with the Stars, Penguins and Capitals. He played in 80 games last season and was a minus-3 with eight goals and 17 assists.

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Flyers trade options: Jacob Trouba, Jared Spurgeon are intriguing defensemen

Flyers trade options: Jacob Trouba, Jared Spurgeon are intriguing defensemen

Chuck Fletcher won't close any doors in his first offseason as Flyers general manager.

"We're going to be active in trying to improve our team," the GM said two days after the Flyers' season ended in April. "How that translates this summer, we'll find out.

"I think we need to add a couple more proven players — I think we could add in any area. Clearly we need to find a goaltender to play with Carter [Hart]. Certainly a veteran defenseman could help. I think some help up front, as well. I think we score, but maybe finding another experienced guy that can help with that mindset — playing the right way, that could contribute both ways."

It's no secret the Flyers will look to utilize free agency in gearing up for a bounce-back year in 2019-20. It's also no secret the trade route is an avenue for Fletcher, especially with the June 21-22 NHL draft ahead. He has already taken advantage by trading a fifth-round pick to acquire soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Kevin Hayes (see story)

With a strong prospect pool, greater cap space and now nine selections in the draft, the ability to explore trades is evident.

The Flyers hold the 11th overall pick in the draft (see five targets). According to a report by Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fletcher has listened to trade offers for the pick.

This week, we're looking at some possible targets for the Flyers, with some help from TSN's trade bait board by Frank Seravalli. To be clear, the Flyers have not been linked to these players; we're simply looking at potential fits.

Jacob Trouba, D, Jets

The 25-year-old defenseman coming off a career season is one of the hotter names on the trade market. According to Seravalli, the Jets have "engaged in dialogue with multiple interested parties" about Trouba, who is set to become a restricted free agent. The 2012 first-round pick is a do-it-all, top-pair guy that scored 50 points (eight goals, 42 assists) this season.

In an excellent piece, which highlights the Flyers as a team that should pursue the Jets' blueliner, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun writes how Trouba wants to be paid like a No. 1 defenseman.

That's where it gets tricky. Trouba will garner a raise from his $5.5 million and Winnipeg will demand a nice package in return for him. A younger player and the No. 11 overall pick, possibly? Maybe a prospect or pick and Shayne Gostisbehere, who is under contract through 2022-23 and cheaper? There's no doubt the Flyers have the essentials for the trade scenario.

Not sure it's the wisest move, though, given the team already has a lot to like on the blue line and can add to the position in different ways.

Jared Spurgeon, D, Wild

Similar to with Jason Zucker, the Flyers know Spurgeon well as Fletcher signed him in 2010. The 29-year-old is a righty shot — the Flyers have only two on the blue line (Radko Gudas, Philippe Myers) — and enjoyed a career season of 14 goals and 43 points in 2018-19. For his career, the 5-foot-9, 167-pound Spurgeon is a plus-51.

"He has the ability to play in every situation: up a goal, down a goal, both specialty teams," Fletcher said in 2015, via the Associated Press. "He just does everything right. Just a great system player."

Spurgeon, who has a modified no-movement clause, will enter 2019-20 on the final year of his contract with a cap hit a little over $5 million. The Wild missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years and draft one slot after the Flyers in the first round. Again, the Flyers have what it takes and the haul to acquire Spurgeon shouldn't be as daunting as other targets.

Contract information courtesy of CapFriendly.com.

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Flyers' trade for Kevin Hayes could be major victory for Nolan Patrick's development

Flyers' trade for Kevin Hayes could be major victory for Nolan Patrick's development

Nolan Patrick entered the 2018-19 season as a freshly-turned 20-year-old facing hefty expectations.

Fair or not, that can be life as a No. 2 overall draft pick.

Patrick was coming off a healthy summer and his first NHL season in which he turned it on down the stretch to help the Flyers clinch a playoff berth. Many pinned him as the team's No. 2 center and predicted a breakout sophomore season of production well surpassing his 30-point rookie year.

It didn't happen. From a numbers standpoint, Patrick scored 31 points and played one fewer game than he did as a rookie. His spurts of brilliance were often overshadowed by prolonged slumps in which he blended in with the rest.

"I feel like there have been points where I've played the way I can and have had a big impact on games," Patrick said in April after the Flyers' season ended. "Then there are also stretches where I haven't been good enough and I haven't been playing the way I can. I think that's just strictly a confidence thing and staying confident throughout the year."

Which brings us to Kevin Hayes. One has to wonder if Patrick's confidence and role were on the mind of general manager Chuck Fletcher when he traded for Hayes, an impending unrestricted free agent, on Monday night (see story)

"I would suggest there are 27, 28 teams that would probably like to find a No. 1 or No. 2 centerman. It's a hard thing to find," Fletcher said in April. "Certainly if you can find a top centerman, I think any team should jump on it. We'll certainly look, but Nolan has the capability of being a No. 2 centerman."

If the Flyers are able to sign Hayes, the acquisition has the makings of a springboard for Patrick's growth. Less pressure, less responsibility can help Patrick. Now, he could have more time and room to reach those capabilities.

Patrick isn't the first 20-year-old to fight confidence. His psyche, though, is crucial to his physical game. A key to this offseason was adding down the middle — not just for depth, but also for Patrick.

Interestingly, another center in the picture doesn't pigeonhole Patrick. Instead, it provides the Flyers with greater options to drive his development forward. 

They'll have better opportunities to mix and match with Patrick. He can play on the third line next to Oskar Lindblom and another offensive-minded winger, possibly a youngster or an offseason acquisition. When his offense is clicking, he can climb back to the second unit with more talent and scoring accountability. He also saw some positive results this season playing alongside Claude Giroux when the Flyers tried spreading the wealth a bit.

Having Patrick not feel the weight of being a focal point from the outset should be a focus for the Flyers. It likely played into the thought process of the Hayes trade.

"It's really tough. Eighty-two games is a lot, especially in this league," Patrick said of the NHL grind. "It's demanding on your body and your mind. I think when you have teammates like we do, it's easy to stay positive and have fun when we come to the rink.

"I try to have big summers training-wise and come in ready. I felt like I was in great shape when I got here. I think it's just a mental thing, maybe overthinking it too much."

Hayes can help the Flyers. He's 27 and scored a career-high 25 goals last season and a career-high 55 points this season, despite being traded at the Feb. 25 deadline.

Better yet, what he could do for a young Patrick would make everyone forget about a 2019 fifth-round pick lost in the process.

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