This offseason could prove to be quite a busy one for the Philadelphia Flyers organization. General Manager, Ron Hextall, has spent the past few years disposing of bad contracts and filling up his team’s prospect pool. Now it is time for Hextall to bring in upgrades in the NHL talent department to make the Flyers serious contenders as soon as next season.
The two places Hextall can seek these upgrades are the free agent and trade markets. We’ve already taken some time to observe potential free agent targets for Philadelphia and discovered that the options are quite limited. The Flyers would be better off hitting the trade market and have an abundance of prospects and drafts picks to get deals done.
In this three-part series, we will go through potential players Philadelphia could pursue via trade, focussing on a specific position each time. We will start things off at the goaltender position.
Although the Flyers are looking for an improvement to their current goalie situation, the netminder they obtain must fit a particular mold. With Carter Hart in the pipeline, Philadelphia is in search of a placeholder to man the crease while he makes his way up the ranks and continues his development.
Any netminder the Flyers pursue needs to have only two to three years of term left on his contract. The cap hit won’t be an issue because Philadelphia has plenty of it. As long as the netminder is a proven upgrade, Hextall won’t mind devoting a decent amount of money between the pipes while he awaits the arrival of Hart. Additionally, any possible acquisition needs to have a decent track record of good health.
Without any further ado, here are the goalies the Flyers could pursue this summer via the trade market.
Current Cap Hit: $1,500,000
Philipp Grubauer will be a restricted free-agent for the Washington Capitals this summer so any trade would be for his rights. The Flyers would then have to sign him to a new contract. Still, Grubauer received an increase in playing time this year, even taking over the reigns as the number-one netminder over Braden Holtby for some time and beginning the postseason a the goalie in net for the Caps. Of course, that experiment was short-lived. His numbers were respectable in the regular season, going 15-10-3 with a .923 save percentage and 2.35 goals against average.
The risk with Grubauer is he is still unproven. He saw action in 35 games this year, a career-high, but would be called upon more often in Philadelphia. It is likely that he would share the crease with Brian Elliott, which could be okay if Elliott was given a lighter load than this season.
Current Cap Hit: $6,100,000
Now, this scenario is far less likely. However, if for some reason the Capitals wanted to go into next season with Grubauer as the new starting netminder of the franchise, they may look to send Holtby elsewhere. The former Vezina Trophy winner has two more years on his current contract and would be a drastic improvement in net for Philadelphia. Again, the likelihood of this happening is quite slim but crazier things have certainly happened.
Current Cap Hit: $4,350,000
The 2017-18 regular season could easily be summed up as one that Jake Allen of the St. Louis Blues would like to forget. His 27-25-3 record, save percentage of .906, and 2.75 goals against average have both the organization and the fanbase question whether he is worthy of the starting netminder position. This could make him a disposable asset. There certainly would be a risk to the Flyers bringing him in as they truly don’t know whether he would be an upgrade to their current situation. However, if the price isn’t too costly, it might be worth it.
Allen is on the books until the summer of 2021 with an annual cap hit of $4.35 million. He could share the net with Elliott this season, take over the starting duties until Hart is ready, and then serve as Hart’s backup until his contract expires. Again, this may not be the best option, but it might be one to explore at least.
Current Cap Hit: $5,291,667
How about taking a crack at the other Red Wings netminder? It’s unclear whether Detroit would be willing to deal Jimmy Howard, as they may want to have him play out the last year of his contract with them. Still, it may be worth getting a feel what it would cost to bring him to Philadelphia for a year. He would probably split time with Elliott and could be viewed as an upgrade over Michal Neuvirth.
Current Cap Hit: $625,000
Aaron Dell’s sample size is still quite small, and if the Flyers were to acquire him, it would be to back up Elliott. He had a strong year with San Jose, playing in 29 games going 15-5-4. Additionally, he recorded a .914 save percentage and 2.64 goals against average. He is on the book until the summer of 2020 and will have an increase in his cap hit to $1.9 million. The Sharks may not want to part ways with Dell and Philadelphia may be looking for someone they can confidently make their starting goalie. However, it is still an option for Hextall to ponder.