Flyers general manager Ron Hextall announced on Friday night, the day before the Flyers lost to the Penguins, 4-2, in the Stadium Series game at Heinz Field, that he would not be a buyer at this Wednesday’s trade deadline.
What he didn’t say, or at least admit, was that the Flyers would be sellers. Make no mistake, though, a giant “For Sale” sign will no doubt be planted in front of the Wells Fargo Center this week.
The team is trending in the wrong direction. Since that mirage of a 10-game winning streak in December, the Flyers are 9-16-4, have lost four of their last five games and sit five points behind Boston for the final wild card spot with just 21 games to go.
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With a handful of pending free agents that could net the Flyers prospects or draft picks in return and speed up the rebuilding process, expect Hextall’s phone to be glued to his ear this week.
Let’s take a look at the unrestricted free agents who other GMs might be calling about.
Despite turning 39 this year, the defenseman is still an asset on offense, especially on the power play. He is second on the team in power play points for a defenseman. Although he’s suspect in his own zone, Streit would make a solid Nos. 4 or 5 defenseman and a perfect point man for a team’s second power play unit.
Michael Del Zotto
His reputation has always been as an offensive player who takes too many risks, but over the last two years MDZ has developed into a reliable and responsible defensive player who can assist the attack. His health is an issue, but he’d be an instant upgrade for any playoff-bound team.
A healthy scratch for most of the last month, he wouldn’t bring much back in a deal. However, the 15-year veteran can provide much-needed depth during a long playoff run.
Chris Vandevelde and Pierre Edouard Bellemare
The pair of forwards have only combined for 17 points this season yet they do all of the dirty work on the penalty kill and add grit to the team’s fourth line. Another bonus is each make under a million dollars and would be an easy fit to any team’s payroll.
Steve Mason and Michael Neuvirth
Neither goalie is expected back next season, both are expendable and have playoff experience. They have near identical goals against averages and save percentages and have traded roles as the starter and backup throughout the year.
Right now, the top job belongs to Neuvirth, who’d likely bring back the biggest haul due to his recent strong play. Mason has started 42 games, nearly twice as many as Neuvirth. They’d each make ideal backups.