With the Philadelphia Flyers‘ losing streak hitting nine for a second time this season (10-game losing streak from Nov. 18 to Dec. 8), it looks like they have dug themselves in too deep of a hole to recover. Just like any team that is out of it by the trade deadline, the Flyers should be looking to sell off players to contenders. The most likely candidates that come up are the upcoming free agents, as most teams like to bolster their lineup with rentals.
I’ve already ran through some destinations for the bigger fish, Claude Giroux and Rasmus Ristolainen, but one player that may be the most likely candidate to move that the Flyers would be willing to sell is Derick Brassard. He was a late offseason signing for very cheap. They brought him in to fill out the bottom-six at $825,000, and he’s outperformed his contract by a mile. Teams go far in the playoffs by having these sorts of players outperform their contracts, whether it’s players on entry-level deals or older players.
With 11 points in 19 games, it would be a missed opportunity to get something back for Brassard before the deadline. Here are four likely candidates to be in the running for him to fill out their bottom six and add some veteran leadership amongst the group.
First off, let’s look at the Washington Capitals. Their fortunes have turned as of late, falling in the Metropolitan Division standings a bit. They are still a good team and should be able to ride it out all the way to the postseason, but they should be looking to upgrade.
The bottom six is one area where they will be looking to upgrade, especially with the injuries and youth they’ve had to inject into their lineup. Who knows when Anthony Mantha is going to return. Meanwhile, T.J. Oshie has been in and out of the lineup all year dealing with issues. Though not injured, Daniel Sprong also isn’t the player he was last season and he’s been very inconsistent.
Brassard would be able to fit in anywhere in the bottom six for Washington, but you’d have to assume he’d take over the fourth-line duties, as he’s an upgrade over Nic Dowd. Brassard isn’t only a centerman, but is versatile and can play the wing as well. This season he surprised and was able to fill in the top six when Kevin Hayes missed time.
Brassard would be a short-term upgrade, only giving support to a playoff run this season for the Capitals, so he wouldn’t get in the way of the development or take a rookie’s spot for too long. One or more of the rookies who have been called up this season can go back down to the American Hockey League (AHL), dominate, and get more confidence to secure a spot on the team next year and beyond. All of Brett Leason, Aliaksei Protas, and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby have played a good number of games this season, but have clearly been used in a limited role, as none of them have averaged more than 12:30 of ice time per game. The Capitals should be looking to add more experience rather than running with too many rookies, as they haven’t experienced the tougher style of game down the stretch or into playoffs.
Los Angeles Kings
With the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and Anaheim Ducks all struggling big time as of late, it has allowed the Los Angeles Kings to get themselves back in the playoff hunt, holding the second-place spot in the Pacific Division. They have a very solid top six, but the bottom half of their lineup is filled with very young players.
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Come playoff time and when games start to get much harder near the end of the season, there’s too much inexperience in the bottom six with Rasmus Kupari, Alex Turcotte, Arthur Kaliyev, Samual Fagemo, Blake Lizotte, Carl Grundstrom, Quinton Byfield, and Lias Andersson. The Kings need to add at least one veteran who’s played lots of playoff hockey and can add that leadership to the bottom six.
As I mentioned, the top six is on lock, but with the uptick in production this season, Brassard could fill in if either Anze Kopitar or Philip Danault gets knocked out of the lineup. His production would be welcomed to the bottom six, as the top six has carried most of the load.
Looking West once again, the Nashville Predators have been a surprising and dominant team this year. They’ve held it together this long and getting production from players who they really needed it from. Falling out of the race would be a major collapse. That being said, there’s a glaring hole at the fourth-line centre position.
They tried Thomas Novak out for 27 games and he put up seven points, eventually being sent down to the AHL. Now, Michael McCarron is playing fourth-line centre after being recalled. He is not a viable solution, as he’s an NHL-extra at best, playing 93 games across five seasons. Brassard would come in as the oldest player on the team by a couple of years, adding a much-needed veteran presence in the forward group.
The Predators will most likely only make a more minor move to upgrade at forward, though they have the cap space to make a big splash. Those might be saved for the back end or to bolster the backup goaltending, but don’t be surprised if this team makes moves.
The Boston Bruins don’t have the most cap space to work with and they will be looking to make a big move as their veteran core is getting older. They will also be calling around about a defenceman to upgrade. I expect them to make multiple moves, so along with needing to upgrade their second-line centre position, Brassard could be a solid addition to their bottom six who are in dire need of scoring.
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Brassard has more points per game than eight of the 12 forwards on the Bruins and has average less ice time per game than five of the eight on a Flyers team that has struggled greatly. The Bruins wouldn’t have to give up too much to acquire him, and could even possibly acquire him in a package deal along with one of the big name Flyers players that could be on the trade block. The Bruins have done well lately, but until they start to get real production from their depth, they will be outplayed and held back.
The hope is that Brassard can return from injury and get some more games in while keeping up the production he has this year to boost his trade value. The Flyers aren’t going to get a first-round pick in return for him, but he is a great piece to move and lots of teams will be interested to add what he brings to the lineup for so cheap.