Flyers’ Low-Risk, High Reward Trade Targets

The Philadelphia Flyers are a team that is going to make moves at the deadline. With players at each position rumoured to be on the move, they will have holes to fill before next season. A perfect time to start is the trade deadline when a few teams are looking to trade some players who are having a tough time finding room in the lineup. There are three in particular whose names have been coming up and we will take a look at how the Flyers could target them to help with retooling for next season.

Max Comtois

On The Jeff Marek Show, Marek said, “Anaheim’s left side is hard to crack. He (Max Comtois) has had a tough season getting in the lineup right now between hand surgery, COVID, and all the scratches.

The Anahiem Ducks have Adam Henrique, who’s a good player and is consistent as always. Sonny Milano is having a career year playing with Trevor Zegras, Sam Steel has been playing good hockey this season and Nicolas Deslauriers could be the toughest player in the NHL as Marek brings up. That kind of toughness combined with decent offensive output for a fourth-line player is hard to come by. He’s played all but three games this season. Additionally, he is on the second unit of a penalty kill that is top-10 in the league.

Henrique is signed for two more years, Milano and Steel are restricted free agents (RFA), and Deslauriers is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) but you’d think the Ducks are looking to re-sign him after what he’s provided for them this year.

Comtois said between periods in an interview, “obviously I don’t play a lot this year.” Last year, he was the leading scorer for the Ducks, putting up 16 goals and 33 points, which both led the team in 55 games. Henrique had the second-highest goal output with 12 and Rickard Rakell trailed Comtois in points with 28. This season, he has just two goals and seven points in 32 games.

Max Comtois Anaheim Ducks
Max Comtois, Anaheim Ducks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Here you see how key consistency is. Being out of the lineup early in the season with his hand injury and right when he came back being sidelined again with COVID messed up any chance of him getting back up to speed. This caused him to be scratched because at this time Anaheim was rolling and winning games and couldn’t have a player not contributing in the lineup to slow that down.

The Flyers have just one exclusive left wing in their lineup, the rest of the players are versatile and can play the other wing or centre, so Comtois would have an easier time finding room in the lineup in Philadelphia.

Owen Tippett

On Friday night, in the American Hockey League (AHL), the Philadelphia Flyers’ affiliate and the Florida Panthers’ affiliate faced off. This game between the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Charlotte Checkers had all the big names that will be in charge of making trade and roster decisions for the Flyers at the game. Present at the game was Chuck Fletcher, Danny Briere, Dean Lombardi, and Bill Barber. The belief from Marek and the consensus is that they were all at the game to get a good look at Owen Tippett.

Owen Tippett Florida Panthers
Owen Tippett, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Just like I brought above with Comtois finding it hard to get into games this season, Tippett is another player that has found it very difficult to crack the deep Panthers lineup. Claude Giroux’s name has been linked to the Panthers since it is an all-in year for them. So logically with the lack of space and what would have to be sent back to the Flyers, Tippett would be included in that potential deal.

Related: Flyers News & Rumors: Giroux Asking Price, Ellis Injury & More

Marek stated, “we know the Panthers have put his name out there and made him available.” Tippett is an RFA after this season and it made sense to have him playing in the AHL to get the minutes and puck touches young players need while in development. Another thing that allows the Panthers to use him as a trade chip is they also have Aleksi Heponiemi, Serron Noel, and Grigori Denisenko in the minors and almost ready for NHL time. Tippett has just about aged out of the AHL and should be able to find time in the NHL but is stuck on a deep team. With seven of their top nine forwards all signed past this season, it will continue to be difficult to get time if the Panthers were to keep him.

Elliotte Friedman brings up the point that Florida doesn’t have their first-round pick this year but it definitely wouldn’t be a deal-breaker considering the Flyers want to be competitive next year and Tippett is ready to play in the NHL. Friedman says “it obviously has to be Tippett-plus” meaning more to the deal in a Giroux trade than just Tippett. Possibly a future first-round pick or another prospect who’s close to being NHL-ready.

Pavel Zacha

Pavel Zacha is one of the longest-tenured players on the New Jersey Devils and his name has been popping up recently in trade talks. The Devils aren’t in competition this year for the playoffs and may look to sell a few players or make moves to set themselves up for next year.

Zacha is a former sixth overall pick in 2015 and finally showed signs of breaking out last season when he led the team in points with 35 and tied for the team lead in goals with 17. He has still not produced to the level that most fans had hoped when he was drafted that high, especially if you look at the talent around him from that draft.

Pavel Zacha New Jersey Devils
Pavel Zacha, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

His performance has somewhat carried over and he had a hot start to this season, trailing off a bit since. Zacha is an RFA and is able to play centre or the wing, the same positions as what the Flyers are expected to lose in Giroux at the deadline. Frank Seravalli has brought up Zacha’s name as a trade possibility and ranks him 10th on his trade bait board. The Devils have limited space on their roster and even more so when you look at their prospect pool and see Alexander Holtz and Nolan Foote who are close to being NHL-ready.

For the Flyers, all of these players were either high picks or have already made an impact in the NHL. There doesn’t appear to be much room for them in their organization which makes them the odd men out and perfect for the Flyers to take advantage of and use to retool their roster to be competitive for a number of years.

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