The Philadelphia Flyers could find the ultimate trump card in addressing their lack of scoring depth along the wings.
Multiple reports in recent days have tabbed the Flyers as serious suitors for a potential trade with the Winnipeg Jets for their star right-winger, Patrik Laine.
The 22-year-old has quickly become one of the most dangerous — albeit streaky — pure goalscorers in the NHL since his arrival on the scene. Laine posted at least 30 goals in each of his first three NHL seasons, including 44 in his second campaign two years ago. He was on pace to break that mark this season with 28 goals in 68 games before the coronavirus pandemic halted play in March.
Normally, such an impressive young talent would be untouchable for NHL teams — but the Jets find themselves in quite a precarious situation.
They have an estimated $15 million in cap space available and only have 14 players under contract. Considering they are a team that needs to address multiple, glaring needs, keeping Laine long-term wouldn’t necessarily help.
He’ll be a restricted free agent following next season and will fetch much more than his current two-year, 13.5 million deal — which is why the Jets haven’t seemed too eager to secure him for the foreseeable future.
Trading Laine and eliminating that potential enormous contract would allow the Jets to fill in those roster holes. According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Winnipeg is looking for at least a second-line center and a second-pairing defenseman.
Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim could certainly fit in a deal as a 24-year-old promising blue liner that is also a Winnipeg native. However, Philadelphia’s defense already experienced a rather unexpected loss this week when Matt Niskanen announced his retirement.
When it comes to producing a second-line center for the Jets, that’s where things get a bit more difficult for the Flyers. It would have to be one of their younger prospects, regardless, whether that’s Morgan Frost or Nolan Patrick.
Analyzing what Laine brings to the Flyers is already a foregone conclusion. A pure sniper would do wonders for a power play that came up lame when they needed it most during the postseason while taking some of the offensive pressure off the aging likes of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Jakub Voracek. Laine would help lead the charge of Philadelphia’s next generation, which already has a big piece in 23-year-old Travis Konecny.
TSN’s Frank Seravalli added on Tuesday morning that talks have “cooled down” between Winnipeg and the Flyers, but they could revisit the deal at any time this offseason.