The Philadelphia Flyers are evaluating their roster and could trade a few assets before the 2022 trade deadline. They have an opportunity to bring in some young NHL-ready talent to help the team on cheaper deals.
The Flyers haven’t hit on as many draft picks as they might have liked, but they could use their position as sellers to build a skilled young group with a lot of potential. The New York Rangers be shopping around aggressively before the deadline, and the Flyers have players that could be of interest to them.
Related: 3 Flyers to Keep an Eye on in the Second Half of 2021-22
The Rangers have built up one of the most impressive prospect pools in the NHL in recent years. But with limited spots in the lineup, some young players will not get their proper opportunity and lose value if they sit in the minors or at the bottom of the lineup for too long.
With an abundance of talent in the organization and little room for them in the NHL, the Rangers can use some of these players as trade bait to bring in what they need to become true Stanley Cup contenders. Here are some young players the Flyers should be interested in if they can strike up a deal with the Rangers.
Some players take longer to develop than others, but it doesn’t help if they are rushed to the NHL. Some of the best talents have taken even a year in the American Hockey League (AHL) before making the transition. The Rangers have two such players, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko, who were drafted first and second overall, respectively, to high expectations that they could jump straight into the NHL.
There have been rumblings that the Rangers should trade Lafreniere, but that’s highly unlikely. Kakko, on the other hand, is tracking a bit slower than Lafreniere, and he is due for a contract extension after this season. If the Rangers decide to keep just one and use the other as trade bait, I don’t think there’s a question that Kakko would be on the table.
Kakko is a less physical player and less of a pure goal scorer right now but has added an element to his game that makes him better away from the puck and in his own end, as well as having a better playmaking ability. He has gone from nearly no shorthanded time in his first two seasons to over 24 minutes this season. It’s not a ton, but he is slowly rounding out his game and improving his plus/minus. He has been given a lot less time on the power play, but that too has to do with the high-end talent among the top Rangers forwards. He can and has played in the top-six this season, and the Flyers could really hit on acquiring his services if he is to break out within the next couple of seasons.
It’s still uncertain what the Rangers will do with Vitali Kravtsov once the KHL’s (Kontinental Hockey League) season is over. After the Olympics, they will head straight into the playoffs and the rest of the regular season will be canceled. That will put pressure on the Rangers to act on Kravtsov’s success this season to raise his stock.
It seems there isn’t much room for Kravtsov and not much willingness to resolve the issue. It might be better to give him a fresh start on a different team where he will be an NHL regular immediately. Kravtsov has top-six potential and has put up six goals and 13 points in 19 games this season. If the Flyers can inquire about him, they won’t be disappointed with how he’s progressing with his confidence regained.
Kravtsov is a former ninth-overall pick, and the Rangers shouldn’t have rushed him into the NHL, which created a disconnect when they realized he wasn’t ready. I think he is ready now and will be a welcomed addition to the Flyers as they retool their roster with younger players.
Filip Chytil has taken a step back this season, which the Rangers didn’t anticipate. They likely expected him to grow into their second-line center if Ryan Strome leaves. Instead, Barclay Goodrow was signed and took over third-line center duties while Chytil was pushed to the wing. It’s given him more versatility and experience playing on the wing, but he is playing the fewest minutes per game of his career and performed much better at center.
In this down season, when he’s averaging 0.29 points per game (after finishing last season with 0.52 points per game average), it wouldn’t be hard for the Flyers to take Chytil off the Rangers’ hands. New York has Morgan Barron, who is expected to be ready by next season, and other young talent filling spots in their lineup, so there won’t be much room for Chytil to move up, and his production might continue to diminish in a lesser role.
On the Flyers, he could become the third-line center and even see time in the top-six if players go down with an injury, which seems to be a theme this season. There, he would be given room to succeed with a reasonable cap hit of $2.3 million this season and next in a role he is comfortable in.
Despite Nils Lundkvist being a solid young defenceman who still needs time to adjust to the NHL, the Rangers don’t seem keen on waiting for him to develop. The 21-year old appeared in 25 games this season in his first taste of NHL action. Unfortunately, he didn’t receive enough playing time to be able to adjust properly to the speed of the NHL as a defenceman, averaging under 14 minutes a night.
In 25 games, Lundkvist played over three times as much on the man advantage than he did shorthanded. He is an offensively-gifted defenceman who, if there was space on the Rangers and fewer high-end prospects to be given a chance, Lundkvist would still be with the team.
On the Flyers, he would be a young defenceman who pushes for more time on the power play and adds offense from the backend. In his young career, 58.6 percent of his zone starts have been in the offensive zone. The Rangers saw his potential and were trying to tap into it. It will take longer than 25 games, but it should come sooner than later, and he will only get better with more NHL experience. The Flyers will have more than enough room, as right now they have Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Ryan Ellis (with all his injury problems), and I expect Cam York to make up part of their defensive unit next season.
Lundkvist is in the first year of his entry-level deal, so the Flyers would be getting a player with enough time to watch him develop before he is due for a new contract. With Braden Schneider, Zac Jones, K’Andre Miller, Ryan Lindgren, and Adam Fox all 23 years or younger, the Rangers would be wise to move Lundkvist if he is the odd man out before his value declines by staying in the minors too long.
Don’t expect the Flyers to grab more than two of these players, but the Rangers have more than enough to offer if they want to try and trade for one of the upcoming free agents as a rental or even someone on a long-term deal.