The stove is heating up as we get closer to the trade deadline.
A big part of the trade deadline picture for the Philadelphia Flyers is coming together a bit sooner than we hoped after an injury to Brian Elliott. It was always a possibility that Ron Hextall and the Flyers might look to trade for a veteran goalie to help bolster the crease and have a safety net if Elliott aggravated his injury or if the injury-prone Michal Neuvirth went down, and now Elliott’s injury has only magnified the situation.
Over the weekend, Elliotte Friedman noted that the Flyers and Sabres had been scouting each other, and could come together for a possible match as we near the trade deadline. He followed that up on Tuesday in his weekly 31 Thoughts column (which is always a fantastic read), with a point on that yet again.
11. I can’t pin it down, but a few teams suspected there was some traction between Buffalo and Philadelphia. Their two AHL teams, Lehigh Valley and Rochester, met last Saturday. It sounds like it depends on if the Flyers’ wish to buy, and they woke up Wednesday five points into the playoffs
The Sabres certainly have a few bigger names on the trade block this season, in forwards Evander Kane and Ryan O’Reilly, but I can’t imagine that the Flyers will be targeting anyone close to those two. However, the Sabres do have two players that Hextall should have his eye on. Those two players are goaltenders Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson.
Lehner and Johnson are both in the last year of their contracts, making them a perfect rental option for teams in need of a goalie like the Flyers. Lehner is the more bonafide of the two, with a career .916 save percentage (.910 this season) and 2.78 goals against average (2.90 this season), but with more skill could come a higher price tag. Johnson has a career .911 save percentage, but has been well below that this season with a save percentage of .886 and goals against average of 3.57, one full goal above his career average.
Buffalo is definitely selling, as they sit in last place in the conference, but they could jack up the asking price now that Ron Hextall’s hand is being forced a bit with Elliott’s injury. On the other hand, there are plenty of veteran goalies on friendly or expiring contracts that I’m sure teams would be willing to give up for a mid-round pick or less.
Ideally the Flyers will be able to acquire league-average backup goalie for a mid-round pick to help solidify the crease. This would allow Neuvirth to split time at best, or at worst have a qualified goalie to spot start for Neuvirth or to fill in if anything happens.
The Sabres are the one team that the Flyers have been linked to as of now, but there are plenty of options for Ron Hextall to peruse. We’ll see what else crops up as we move closer to the trade deadline.
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