With about one hour left, it seemed as though the Flyers were going to let the trade deadline pass without making any moves. Names were being thrown out left and right, but none had any substance behind them.
Then out of nowhere, Mark Streit got traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Streit will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and currently has a $5.25M cap hit. The Flyers are retaining 4.7% of that salary, which comes out to just under $247K.
In return, the Flyers are receiving forward Valtteri Filppula, a 2017 4th round draft pick, and a conditional 2017 7th round draft pick. The condition on the 7th round pick was in case the Lightning traded Streit, which they did about half an hour later. He’s now a Pittsburgh Penguin. Rest in Peace.
The biggest piece the Flyers are getting in return is obviously Filppula, a 32-year-old center. He’s signed through the end of next season and has a $5M cap hit plus a no movement clause. He also brings something to the Flyers organization that they haven’t had in a long time: A new top nine veteran presence that can actually score goals.
And yes, I said top nine instead of top six. Mainly because the Flyers don’t seem to operate with a top six vs bottom six system. They really have a top nine plus the perpetual 4th line of Bellemare, VandeVelde and Guest.
Filppula’s presence adds depth to the top nine that they’ve been desperate for. His seven goals so far this season are a far cry from his 25-goal career high, set in the 2013-2014 season. But he does have the same talent and potential that he showed then and if he can rejuvenate that talent, he can be a tremendous asset to this Flyers offense. Remember, he was the Lightning’s first line center when Steven Stamkos was out. He doesn’t completely solve the Flyers’ scoring problem, but it’s a decent start.
Who knows, maybe the additional draft picks can help boost the Flyers forward situation somehow, too? They can still be traded for a higher pick or a current player before the draft.
The biggest immediate concern with adding Filppula to the roster is that no movement clause, which will require the Flyers to protect him in the upcoming expansion draft assuming they don’t buy him out or trade him first. He joins the projected protection list that already includes Giroux, Voracek, Simmonds, Schenn and Couturier, leaving just one remaining protected spot. The biggest names remaining are Raffl, Cousins, Read, and Bellemare, who just signed a two-year contract extension today.
That’s a lot of talent to protect with only one spot left. But keep in mind, the Vegas Golden Knights will have a whole lot of other options to choose from. Depending on what their needs are when they get to the Flyers, they might not take any of the forwards available. And if they do, they’re only going to be able to take one. No one on that remaining list has an absolute must protect status.
Overall, the Flyers picked up two more draft picks and a decent forward talent in exchange for an aging defenseman who was going to be gone at the end of the season anyway. It seems like a good move to me.