The Flyers are currently two points out of the playoff race with 20 games to go. That makes it seem like they’re right in the thick of things because they, well…are? A more telling stat is the Flyers 3-6-1 record in their last 10 games. The Flyers made a single trade at the deadline, and it was a questionable one at that.
In case you forgot, I was a big proponent of the Flyers selling. Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto, a couple forwards. I was set on packing their bags. But Ron Hextall had different plans.
When I heard he dealt Streit, I was excited to see the return. It turned out to be Valtteri Filppula, a fourth-round pick and a seventh-round pick (since Streit was flipped to Pittsburgh). My first thought was why?
The picks I was happy with, but Filppula? If the Flyers added any forward, a scorer would have been preferable. Hell, the Panthers landed Thomas Vanek for a third rounder and a defenseman that has played only 43 games in his NHL career. That’s a price I’d be willing to pay, despite him only scoring 15 goals this year. But I digress.
The Flyers picked up Filppula, who carries not only a $5 million cap hit, but a no-movement clause. Hextall said it’s a move he thought made the team better moving forward. While it clears space on an already overcrowded blueline, Filppula doesn’t add much to the forward corps.
Filppula has 34 points (7g, 24a) on the year, seven of which are on the power-play, and a single game-winning goal.
Several years ago, Filppula earned a large contract after posting 23 goals and 66 points with Detroit. But his production has declined steadily since that season (2011-12).
Hextall says that’s not a concern, saying production is dependent on a bunch of factors. He says he can play all over and referred to him as “a good player.”
Look, I agree. Your production depends on factors outside of yourself. Players like John LeClair showed the skill they had when matched with the right people and outside of that, they weren’t nearly as good. It’s possible with a change of scenery and possibly more chances, Filppula can regain his old form. But still, his cap hit is too high for the average play he’s been producing at for the Bolts.
Outside of trades, Hextall extended Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Michael Neuvirth. I’m not wildly behind either Steven Mason or Neuvirth, but did they make the right choice? The Flyers needed to have a goalie under contract for the upcoming expansion draft so that they could protect Anthony Stolarz. But in the unlikely event the Flyers unprotected goalie wasn’t chosen, which goalie would you have more confidence in going forward? Honestly, it’s a toss up. Both have shown flashes of brilliance coupled with moments of complete befuddlement.
I’m behind the Bellemare extension–he’s a solid fourth-line player that is used mostly for penalty killing. His signing is one of filling out a roster, not making or breaking it.
Hextall said he was looking at other options in the trade market, but for a number of reasons, no other deals could be struck. While I’m not thrilled with the moves, time will ultimately tell if they were as sideways as they seem or if Hextall has a real command of putting together a team that will compete for years to come.