Flyers Should Remove Themselves From DeBrincat Sweepstakes

I originally wrote that the Philadelphia Flyers should be willing to pay the price to acquire Alex DeBrincat after Pierre LeBrun revealed the package the Chicago Blackhawks were looking for in return. This included a young player, high draft pick, and top prospect (from ‘Barry Trotz’s next move coming soon, Jeff Petry trade in the works: LeBrun rumblings,’ The Athletic, 6/17/22).

My initial breakdown of a trade involving the Flyers included Travis Konecny, Morgan Frost, or Owen Tippett as the young player. I listed the high pick as the Flyers’ fifth overall selection in the 2022 Draft as it carries a ton of value and a prospect like Tyson Foerster, Wade Allison, Elliot Desnoyers, or Egor Zamula.

Alex DeBrincat Chicago Blackhawks
Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Anthony Di Marco reported that a Flyers’ package for DeBrincat would likely include the fifth overall pick as expected, a Foerster-type prospect, again, there’s no problem in that, and one of Joel Farabee or Cam York. It’s the young player that would be going back where the big issue lies. Di Marco also mentioned, as I have, that interest has definitely gone down if that’s what DeBrincat costs.

What Should Be the Deal Breaker for the Flyers

The deal-breaker here is the young player in Farabee or York. They are two of the centerpieces the Flyers must build around whether they turn things around or plan to rebuild in the near future. I also listed both of them as the only untouchables on the team, along with Bobby Brink, who is on the fence.

Even though the Flyers would be giving up a future star in the fifth-overall pick and a likely top-six forward/top-four defenseman in the deal, it’s too much to also ask for Farabee, who is signed at $5 million AAV (average annual value) for six more seasons and York who is still on his entry-level deal.

Farabee is only 22 years old and hasn’t had a star player to play alongside; DeBrincat is two and a half years older and has played with Patrick Kane his entire career. With another high-level talent beside him, Farabee easily has the potential to put up the numbers that DeBrincat has. Farabee has proven he can score and has really only experienced NHL hockey since the pandemic started.

Joel Farabee Philadelphia Flyers
Joel Farabee, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Meanwhile, York has already shown stellar growth and the potential to be the number one defenseman on the Flyers very soon. I understand why the Blackhawks would want a young and talented defenseman after giving up Adam Boqvist in the trade for Seth Jones, but they shouldn’t be getting York.

Uncertain Future Ahead for Flyers

The Flyers are in limbo, as they have a ton of money tied up but haven’t made the playoffs in two years and finished near the very bottom of the standings. Last season was hard to judge, considering a number of key players missed significant time, but the health concerns continue beyond just last season. Ryan Ellis doesn’t normally stay healthy, Farabee will miss time to begin 2022-23, and Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes will hope to stay healthy to keep the center depth stronger than it was.

Related: Flyers Free Agent Predictions for 2022 Offseason

The Metropolitan Division is getting older and weaker, but the Flyers must also get a lot better, which they should under new head coach John Tortorella. We may not see a huge uptick in offensive production, but there will be improvements with healthy players and more young talent adjusting to the NHL. One thing that will change is the team’s defensive play, and the Flyers will hopefully win games by shutting teams down. They have the goaltender and good top-five defensemen if healthy and in a new system, a lot of things should go right.

So, if the Flyers lose a player like Ellis to injury again, they would have three top-four defensemen left if York is dealt. While the goal is to add much more offensive production upfront, they should not take baby steps by sending away one of the Flyers’ best young offensive producers in Farabee in the same deal.

Just like the Blackhawks, the Flyers could find themselves needing a rebuild or another re-tooling of sorts after this season, so acquiring DeBrincat with one year left on his deal before a large pay raise would be the wrong move. In acquiring him, a team should be certain they can use him in his prime and on a great deal. This would likely narrow the options down to contenders, assuming they have the assets.

Price May Be High Now for DeBrincat but Could Fall

The price is very high for DeBrincat right now, and understandably so. Chicago has the best player on the trading block and are looking to fast-track their rebuild. He will cost a lot of money on his next deal and will be deep into his prime by the time the organization gets out of their rebuild. Though they can afford to keep him around, given his talent, he may stunt their ability to get very high picks/prospects in return and in the coming seasons. To guarantee a high pick in this league, the team has to sell everything, as the Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes have done.

Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks
Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

I say the price could fall considering the Blackhawks have one full season and still have the rights to DeBrincat after the season, so they are in no rush to move him immediately. They set their price and it should remain that high for at least this offseason. But the longer they wait, that’s time away from a potential trade partner to utilize him on their roster and thus the price will fall. If the Blackhawks wait until next offseason to trade DeBrincat and his production goes down, it may also affect his price a small amount while another team would also just be paying for his rights at that point and will have to negotiate a deal themselves.

It is not the right price for the Flyers to risk giving up a good chunk of their future for a player they may have for just one season. Though if the price of DeBrincat falls and the Flyers are in a good spot, we could revisit this conversation.

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