Even though the NHL trade deadline is still a few weeks away, it will not deter the Philadelphia Flyers from making moves to upgrade the team for the future.
Philadelphia is currently on a four-game winning streak but still has the fourth-worst record in the Eastern Conference (20-23-6). With that being known, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher is doing his diligence on “trying to make the team better at all costs.”
While veteran forward Wayne Simmonds has been mentioned as a potential trade chip for the Orange and Black, they could also be in the running for talented winger Artemi Panarin of the Blue Jackets.
Aaron Portlzine of the Athletic reported on Monday that Panarin declined to talk about a contract extension with Columbus until after the season, opening the doors to the pending unrestricted free agent being dealt before next’s month deadline.
The 27-year-old Panarin’s looming free agency has been a topic of discussion over the last few months in the hockey world. He is in the final year of a two-year, $12 million contract and could get a blockbuster deal on the open market.
This season, the 5-foot-11 winger is having a career year in Columbus with 19 goals and 34 assists (53 points) in 46 games.
On Tuesday, Darren Dreger was on TSN1050 in Toronto and explained which teams could be interested in the budding star. One of those teams is the Flyers, who reportedly had interest in acquiring Panarin during last year’s NHL Draft.
“I’m looking at even the Philadelphia Flyers, depending on what happens,” he said. (h/t to Chris Nichols of Nichols on Hockey) “I didn’t know this, maybe you guys did and it slipped under my radar – apparently Philadelphia came real close to acquiring Panarin at the draft last year.”
Dreger went onto explain that he does not know what Philly offered, but look out for them to be a possible destination for the unrestricted free agent.
“I don’t know what the components were, but I know that Philadelphia felt like they were pretty close to getting Panarin at the draft.”
“Now, there’s been a change in management obviously. Chuck Fletcher, he’s going to be pretty motivated, isn’t he, to add some pieces. Now, he might be able to add some pretty offensive-minded players through trade, considering some of the assets he’s willing to peddle. But I look at Philadelphia as a potential landing spot for Panarin.”
If the Flyers could add Panarin in free agency that would be a huge splash. We saw them sign James van Riemsdyk to a five-year deal last offseason to provide some extra offensive firepower.
Imagine adding Panarin with van Riemsdyk, Sean Couturier, Nolan Patrick, Travis Koency and rest of the Flyers’ young core? That would be a formidable roster for years to come.
However, things can change between here and the end of the season. The Blue Jackets could decide to trade Panarin by the deadline, instead of letting him walk for nothing.
Then that would leave his new squad to try and sign him to a nice contract extension, which is not out of the realm of possibility. But when it comes to the Flyers’ side of things, it is clear they are looking towards the future and adding Panarin would be a nice step in the right direction.