Without being a fly on the wall while NHL front offices discuss their trade blocks, there’s no accurate way to surmise what players may, or may not, be available. But that shouldn’t stop us from speculating, right?
The Philadelphia Flyers are armed with one of the deepest prospect pools in hockey but there’s simply not enough room on the NHL roster for all of them to crack the lineup, and that’s okay. Sure, some of these youngsters will find their way into an orange and black sweater, but the rest can be used as trade bait, along with draft picks, to bolster the roster with proven NHL talent.
If the Flyers can’t find what they need on the free agent market, they should turn to the trade market to try and fill their needs. Here are two potential targets.
Nazem Kadri, Center
The Flyers need to find a center who can slot comfortably into a second and/or third line role, depending on the play of third-year player Nolan Patrick. The Flyers made the mistake of trusting Patrick with the 2C role last season before he was truly ready to handle it, and they struggled for it. Having center depth will also keep captain Claude Giroux on the wing, where he is best suited to play to prolong his career.
Enter Nazem Kadri. The 28-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs center is as talented as he is bone-headed. The Maple Leafs could have used him in their lineup for their Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins, but Kadri was suspended for the remainder of round one after a retaliatory cross-check to the head of Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk in Game 2 of the series.
Kadri totaled 44 points in 73 games this season, with 16 goals, while averaging 16:11 of ice time per game. Solid numbers, but this was a down year for him, who scored 30-plus goals in each of the last two seasons.
Kadri’s rough and tumble attitude would fit in well in Philadelphia and I expect he would quickly become a fan favorite if the Flyers pull the trigger on a trade. The Flyers would also have him on the roster for two seasons at a modest cap hit at $4.5 million a year. Acquiring Kadri would be a low-risk, high-reward move, depending on what they give up to bring him on board.
Things get a lot riskier here for the Flyers. After a disappointing first round playoff exit, the Nashville Predators may look to make a big change to their roster.
The Predators boast four defensemen who could realistically be the best defenseman on a handful of NHL teams. P.K. Subban just so happens to be the most expensive of those four with a $9 million annual cap hit, making him a logical trade chip.
The route to acquiring Subban is clear: the Flyers have the assets to strike a deal and they have a good relationship with Predators general manager, David Poile. They have struck deals with the Predators before, most recently the deadline deal that saw Wayne Simmonds and Ryan Hartman swap lockers.
Subban would be a good fit as well, as a veteran, top-pairing, right-handed defenseman with a rocket slap shot would do wonders for the club and the power play. But $9 million a season for a 30-year-old on contract for another three years who just posted his lowest scoring totals over the course of his career (31 points in 63 games) is risky business.
If this season’s struggles were an anomaly and Subban rises back to his usual prominence, the Flyers could have an electric, highly entertaining defenseman that can draw a crowd back to the Wells Fargo Center. Chuck Fletcher should think long and hard about bringing Subban to the City of Brotherly Love.
New Options Await
As mentioned, there’s no real way to know that these players are truly available until a trade actually occurs, but the Flyers should have their sights set on one of these players if they’re available. The Maple Leafs may not be ready to give up on Kadri just yet, likewise the Predators may choose to stand pat and hope their core of players can get it done next season before shaking things up.
The list of trade candidates will evolve over the course of the postseason, and into the offseason. New targets will arise, old targets will come off the market. For now, Subban and Kadri are prime trade targets that can fill the Flyers’ roster needs.