When the Flyers ripped off ten straight wins, I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t convinced. Some part of me knew they were playing better than they were built. You’re probably thinking, “how convenient you’re writing this as they’re playing badly,” but sometimes that’s the way the world works.
During their current slide, the wheels have really fallen off the wagon. Steve Mason has fallen out of form, the offense has stalled, and the team defense, already suspect, has been abysmal. The Flyers have allowed a league-worst 148 goals in 46 games, an atrocious 3.22 goals allowed per game.
In their 14 games since, the offense has stalled as well, scoring just 27 goals (1.93 goals per game) and has been shut out three times. Yikes.
Ron Hextall says he won’t trade his way out of the funk, only a trade to make the team better would be considered. I’m fully behind that decision. The team has plenty of talent, trading away a piece just to do it could come back to haunt him. But, some kind of move needs to be made. My suggestion? Bring someone up from the Phantoms.
Now this is difficult because of the Flyers being right up against the cap. Moving around pieces is a delicate process, but if I was in Hextall’s shoes, this is what I would try.
The three guys I’d consider waiving are Andrew MacDonald, Dale Weise and Chris VandeVelde. MacDonald would clear the most cap space. His albatross of a contract has a $5 million cap hit and is even more nauseating compared against his play. If he was paired against bottom-line players, I probably wouldn’t hate on him so much, but he sees far too much ice time and is a consistent net-negative defender. He only played in 28 games for the Flyers last season, spending much of the time with Lehigh Valley – my first choice would to be to ship him back.
Dale Weise was a Hextall acquisition this summer. I didn’t hate the signing, but was surprised about it being a four-year deal. After a 14-goal outburst last season, Weise has rocketed back down to Earth with two goals and three assists in 41 games this year. His role is a bottom-six forward that brings strength and grit, but….meh, I haven’t seen enough from him to prove his value.
VandeVelde is a similar case. I have nothing against the guy. He’s a fourth liner that plays hard and sees time as a penalty killer. I think the fact he played for Hakstol at North Dakota is more of a reason he sees the ice than because of actual talent. He brings the lowest cap hit of all forwards, tied along Pierre-Edouard Bellmare. Moving him makes little sense if you’re looking to move cap space.
So, my personal opinion is to move MacDonald. Put him on waivers; if he clears, he goes to Lehigh Valley. If a team claims him…I don’t want to get my hopes up. The move would drop a contract and also give the Flyers another $5 million in cap space. You can have your pick of AHLers to bring up then.
There’s three guys on the Phantoms the Flyers should give serious consideration to calling up. Jordan Weal was acquired when Philly traded Vinny Lecavalier and Luke Schenn to L.A. He had 70 and 69 points in back-to-back years while playing with the Kings AHL affiliate several years ago and currently leads the Phantoms with 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists). He’s a smaller player, which is part of the reason he’s in the AHL. But given a shot, he could produce.
Andy Miele and Greg Carey are other choices for me. I saw both play when they played for the Portland Pirates in the AHL. Miele finished top-five in the AHL in scoring that year despite an extremely poor season from the team as a whole. Again, undersized, he’s yet to score an NHL goal in extremely limited action. Both Weal and he are centers, which is not what the Flyers really need. Which brings me to Carey.
Carey finished as a Hobey Baker finalist in his final year with St. Lawrence University. He finished that season with 18 goals and 39 assists for 57 points. He struggled his first few years in the Coyotes minor league system, but found his groove last season, scoring 26 goals for the Springfield Falcons. The Coyotes decided not to sign him and he joined the Phantoms. In 37 games this season, he has 21 goals and 9 assists. Hockey’s future says he has the potential to be an effective minor leaguer or play in Europe, but he may have difficulty in the NHL. I say give him a chance.
Carey’s cap hit is just $575,000, so the move can easily be done. As a winger, who has proven he can score in the AHL, giving him a shot could put a little adrenaline back in the Flyers offense.
Hextall can make some moves. I agree with him that a trade would be the wrong course, so calling up some young talent needs to happen.