NHL trade deadline

As Jeff Carter's Kings make trip to Philly, is the former Flyer a trade deadline target?

As Jeff Carter's Kings make trip to Philly, is the former Flyer a trade deadline target?

Jeff Carter was back in Philadelphia Saturday night as his Kings played the Flyers.

After the Feb. 24 trade deadline, could he be somewhere else other than Los Angeles?

It's not outside the realm of possibility.

The Kings entered Saturday's action in the basement of the Western Conference and may be a team looking to sell some veteran parts to a contender.

Carter is 35 years old but under contract for next season and 2021-22 with a cap hit of $5,272,727, according to CapFriendly.com. The center brings a lot of pedigree as a two-time Stanley Cup champion and a four-time 30-plus goal-scorer. He can still score the puck a bit as he's projected to finish with 23 goals this season.

If Los Angeles wants to retool and shifts its focus to the future, Carter has the potential to earn it a decent return if contending teams are interested in his services.

Has he ever thought about playing in Philly again?

“I don’t want to leave L.A., I can tell you that right now," he said to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Taryn Hatcher on Saturday night's edition of Flyers Pregame Live. "But I loved playing in Philly, I had some great years here, I have a lot of friends and family. Whatever happens, happens.

"It’s been a long time since I played here but I still enjoy coming back, a lot friends here, my wife’s from here, so some family and stuff like that. Always enjoy coming back and seeing everybody.”

While the Flyers are a team that could be looking for depth and scoring down the middle, they're not exactly in position to trade for a player with the contract like Carter's deal. They would have to include players from their roster in the exchange or make other moves. Subtracting, or doing so significantly, is probably not their plan right now.

"It’s hard to trade a fourth-round pick for a $4 million player," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Tuesday (see story). "With our group right now, I don’t know that’s what we’re looking to do. If we can improve our team, we will."

But you never know. Carter certainly knows anything can happen in this business.

"I love playing in L.A. and being a part of this team," he said. "We’ll see where it goes.”

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The fine balance of Flyers' process will have great say in NHL trade deadline motives

The fine balance of Flyers' process will have great say in NHL trade deadline motives

VOORHEES, N.J. — As Chuck Fletcher watched Philippe Myers push the puck up ice and Travis Sanheim finish with the game-tying third-period goal Monday night, the Flyers’ general manager remembered a key aspect to the organization’s process.

In Fletcher’s first full season as GM, the Flyers have improved and are vying for a return to the playoffs. They entered Tuesday four points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division and holding the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.

They are also very young. They’ve played 11 rookies so far and have given numerous auditions to prospects in hopes of solidifying their bottom six.

Nothing has been set in stone as their depth at forward and down the middle remains up in the air, particularly with the absences of Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder).

All of which will make the Feb. 24 trade deadline an interesting time for Fletcher in his decisions to either add to the club or trust its younger internal options.

Fletcher got a tip when he saw the 23-year-old Sanheim and 22-year-old Myers deliver a huge goal in the Flyers’ 6-5 shootout win over the Bruins.

“You go back to that 4-on-4 sequence where you have got a couple young defensemen who have had some ups and downs this year,” Fletcher said Tuesday at Flyers Skate Zone. “Sanheim throws the puck to Myers. They are both jumping up there, leading the rush. Myers throws it back to Sanheim. Sanheim goes on a third effort and scores a goal. You kind of get reminded a little bit of the need to be patient with young players.

“That was a tremendous goal. Those are great players on the ice for the Bruins. We’ve got a lot of these kids to grow, so I don’t know that we’re looking to bump too many guys out of key spots right now. Certainly if we can increase our depth, find another guy to help in certain situations, I think we’d be very open to that.”

Cap-wise, the Flyers are not in a favorable position to make a huge acquisition at the trade deadline unless it likely involves current players on the roster, not just draft picks or prospects. The Flyers have only $579,444 in cap space, per CapFriendly.com.

“A lot of teams are up against it,” Fletcher said of the cap. “You have to maybe look at including players in the deal. It’s hard to trade a fourth-round pick for a $4 million player. With our group right now, I don’t know that’s what we’re looking to do. If we can improve our team, we will.

“We're a decent offensive team but the main reason why we're trending better this year is our defensive play."

A couple of in-house players who could once again force the Flyers’ hand — or at least make looking outside not as appealing — are Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost, two of the organization’s top prospects coming into the 2019-20 season.

The 19-year-old Farabee has been with the Flyers for 37 games and plays the right way with an advanced hockey IQ. Currently seeing lesser minutes, Farabee has three goals and 12 points. The 2018 first-round pick is regarded as a point-producing winger. If he can provide a lift in secondary scoring, the Flyers can feel more comfortable pushing forward without external help.

“We've been talking to teams all year to see if that's a way we can improve, that makes sense,” Fletcher said. “But clearly, I think over time, the young guys will get better. I mean, Joel Farabee's got three goals this year. My guess is he won't have three goals this time next year.

“He's obviously going to get better and better. … So young guys tend to take those steps. Will it be this year? I don't know, I think it's going to be a little bit of both.

“The thing with Joel is his game is so much more advanced than the other kids away from the puck and defensively. He's one of our best forwards in terms of puck management and game management.”

Frost gave the Flyers an offensive jolt in November and is now back with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley for further development and to regain some confidence. After scoring two goals and three points in his first two NHL games, the 20-year-old center had four points (all assists) over his final 16 games.

The 2017 first-round pick’s ability to make plays down the middle can potentially help the Flyers both offensively and with lineup flexibility.

“If he's the best player and deserves to be here, he'll be here,” Fletcher said. “We have been trying to balance that long-term development versus short-term help for the Flyers and there's been a lot of juggling.

“Hopefully over the next couple weeks he continues to grow, build that and feel good about his game. You love bringing kids up when they feel good about their game, when they're in a good spot.”

With the deadline nearing, the Flyers won’t lose focus on development, but they will have to find out if their kids are enough to make the present about the playoffs again.

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Flyers trade Wayne Simmonds to Predators before deadline

Flyers trade Wayne Simmonds to Predators before deadline

Updated: 5:28 p.m.

VOORHEES, N.J. — Next stop for the "Wayne Train" is Nashville, Tennessee.

Just before Monday's 3 p.m. deadline, the Flyers traded one of the organization’s most beloved players to Music City in exchange for right winger Ryan Hartman and a fourth-round pick in 2020, which could be a third-round selection if the Predators win a playoff round.

The move marks the end of an era.

"I was extremely on edge, obviously, not knowing where the day would go or how it would unfold,” Simmonds told TSN. “I went to the rink this morning for practice and then I was told I wouldn’t be practicing. I got a chance to say bye to the boys for a last time. It happened at the last minute of the deadline and I’m kind of overwhelmed right now."

Acquired from the Los Angeles Kings on June 23, 2011, along with Brayden Schenn and a second-round pick for Mike Richards and Rob Bordson, Simmonds turned out to be the best part of that package.

Even if the Flyers had just received Simmonds (which would have seemed ludicrous back then) and nothing else, the Flyers still would have overwhelmingly got the better part of that trade with L.A. 

And it didn’t take long for Flyers nation to become completely enamored with the skinny 6-foot-2 kid from Scarborough, Ontario.

He had a 28-goal season in his first full year in Philadelphia to go along with 114 penalty minutes. He brought goals and grit every season as if he was time capsuled from the 1970s to play for this city in front of these fans.  

What Chase Utley personified to the Phillies, what Brian Dawkins meant to the Eagles is exactly how you would characterize Simmonds within the Flyers' organization over the past eight years.

“He's been an ultimate warrior, he's been the best teammate all these years,” Claude Giroux said Saturday after their last game together. “We've all been here for a while now, we understand the business of it, but it doesn't mean we have to like it. There are not enough good words I can say about Wayne Simmonds."

Speaking with raw emotion following Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win, Jakub Voracek referred to him as his “best friend.” The rest of the league wasn’t as fortunate. Just ask Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who was rocked by Simmonds into the glass at Lincoln Financial Field and never returned — diagnosed with a concussion.

That check and the ensuing melee that resulted in the loss of defenseman Kris Letang changed the entire complexion of the game. The Penguins may have thought it was a borderline dirty hit, but it was vintage Simmonds and the league obviously agreed. 

Somehow, Simmonds engaged in 41 fights during his time with the Flyers and spent 784 minutes in the penalty box, and yet not once was he forced to miss a single game as the result of a suspension.

“It’s part of the game. I’m not a dirty player. I’ve never been suspended in my life. I don’t pick people’s heads. I don’t do any of that stuff," Simmonds said proudly said after Saturday’s game. "I play the game honest and hard, and I can sleep at night."

There are a handful of goalies around the league who have endured some sleepless nights staring at the back of No. 17.

Even though he was affectionately known as the "Wayne Train" throughout his Flyers career, Simmonds was more of a snow plow on a cold February morning in front of the opposition’s net. He would remove and clear out whatever stood in his way in order to score a goal, especially on the power play.

Since 2011, only Washington’s Alex Ovechkin has ripped off more power-play goals than Simmonds. 

But if you ask him, here’s how Simmonds probably wants to be remembered.

Just last season, he suffered a tear in his pelvic area before training camp, which eventually led to him pulling his groin. He fractured his ankle in the line of fire of a slap shot, and then tore ligaments in the right thumb of his shooting hand. On top of all of that, he lost six teeth after taking a stick to the face while enduring some of the most excruciating mouth pain one person could possibly imagine.

Wayne Simmonds gave the city of Philadelphia everything he had playing the game of hockey.

And whatever he’s got left, whatever muscles and tendons are still attached, is what he’ll give to the fans of Nashville. 

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