As we step back into the NHL season, the Flyers resume play tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. In addition, the trade deadline is in 27 hours, at 3:00 tomorrow afternoon, right before the Flyers take on the Florida Panthers. As it stands right now, the Flyers are sixth in the Eastern Conference with 67 points, 8 behind 5th place Buffalo, and 10 behind division leader New Jersey, although the Flyers have one game in hand on the Devils. We’ll take a quick look at the rest of the schedule.
Home (10): Maple Leafs, Islanders, Bruins, Blackhawks, Thrashers, Wild, Devils, Canadiens, Red Wings, Rangers
Away (12): Lightning, Panthers, Sabres, Rangers (2), Predators, Stars, Thrashers, Senators, Penguins, Islanders, Maple Leafs
As you can see 9 of the final 22 games are against teams currently in the playoffs (Boston, Chicago, New Jersey, Montreal, Detroit, Buffalo, Nashville, Ottawa & Pittsburgh). However, only 5 games are against teams who are against teams who we would declare “out”, 4 of which are against Toronto and the Islanders (Florida the other). So what we see is, the Flyers play against teams they are competing with for positioning, and have to beat the teams they are expected to beat.
I expect the Flyers to finish sixth, take on the Northeast division winner (Buffalo or Ottawa) in the first round. I think they could move up, but it’ll take a huge hot streak and a couple teams above them to go ice cold. Possible, but not likely; the gap between the Flyers and the teams above them is just too big at this point. This could work in the Flyers’ favor as they could avoid a first round matchup with either New Jersey or Pittsburgh.
Trade Deadline News (or non news)
Yesterday the Flyers waived forward Riley Cote and defenseman Danny Syvret, both have since cleared waivers. The team also put goalie Ray Emery on long term injury reserve, most likely ending his season. Defenseman Ryan Parent was activated from the LTIR this morning. As it stands now, the Flyers have about $1 million to work with. Don’t forget that any player traded to the Flyers counts as a full season cap hit because the team has players on its LTIR (thank you Mike Rathje, July 1 can’t come soon enough).
Ryan Parent will play tonight, even while being subject to all of the latest rumors. Rumored is that he and possibly Braydon Coburn would head to Nashville for defenseman Dan Hamhuis. Taking on two defensemen for one doesn’t make sense for Nashville, as they have seven defensemen already (including Hamhuis). Nashville GM David Poile has stated that he won’t move Hamhuis unless an offer blows him away. Nashville is also looking for draft picks, none of which the Flyers have. I don’t think the Flyers have anything to offer the Predators that will knock their socks off, so I don’t see Hamhuis coming here unless Nashville lessens their asking price or Holmgren caves and overpays.