The Philadelphia Flyers 2020-21 season is just about halfway done, and after a strong start to the season, the team is currently reeling with a 2-5-0 record in their last 7 games.
What makes matters worse is that those 5 losses come at the Washington Capitals’ hands (3 times) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (twice), all in regulation, meaning the Flyers didn’t even pick up any loser points.
The Flyers, who are currently sitting in fifth place in the East Division, have all but squandered the opportunity to catch up to the teams ahead of them by losing their games in hand over those teams.
- The New York Islanders, who are currently leading the division, are on a season-high 9-game winning streak and sit 13 points ahead of the Flyers; yes, you read that correctly.
- The Islanders currently sit 13-points ahead of the Flyers (although they’ve played 4 more games).
- The Washington Capitals, who just took 6 points from the Flyers by winning all 3 games against them recently, sit 9 points ahead of the Flyers, having played 2 more games.
- The Penguins are 6 points ahead while having played 2 more games.
- The Bruins sit 3 points ahead, having played the same number of games.
As you can see, the Flyers are currently on the outside looking in when it comes to a playoff spot, and all those teams have to do is take care of their own business from here on end, and they are in, while the Flyers would be out.
Now, the Flyers still have 31 games remaining to their season, but let’s face it, while the team has shown some flashes of being a dominating team, for the most part, they’ve been nothing more than average.
With the NHL Trade Deadline, which is April 12th, quickly approaching, the question has to be asked: Should the Flyers be buyers or sellers?
Obviously, the team hasn’t given up on its season, but the way they are playing right now, the lead that the teams ahead of the Flyers have, looks insurmountable.
If you ask me, the Flyers DEFINITELY need to be buyers right now, and sooner rather than later! 31 out of 56 games left is plenty of time for the Flyers to go on a run and catch the teams ahead of them.
As we saw last season, this team can be something special. Then in the off-season, they lost forwards Tyler Pitlick, Derrick Grant, and Nate Thompson.
As much as I loved Pitlick & Grant, they are guys that the Flyers can replace in-house with guys like Nic Aube-Kubel taking on a bigger role and youngsters like Connor Bunnaman, for example. To me, the biggest change came on defense when top-pairing defenseman Matt Niskanen retired unexpectedly. That really hurts the Flyers defense because it forces every other defenseman to play up and not where they’re supposed to be. You have a guy like Provorov playing while not completely trusting his partner is a recipe for disaster. You can get away with that as the Flyers did at the start of this season, but in the long run, it will catch up to you. As a result, the Flyers goalies don’t trust their defensemen right now, which may explain why they are struggling.
What hurts most to die-hard Flyers fans is that GM Chuck Fletcher seems to be just sitting back.
Flyers can score goals. They need to bring in a top-pairing defenseman, and they need to do it QUICKLY! Enter the Nashville Predators, who are clearly open for business. Almost everyone on that team is available to be had. According to multiple sources, the Flyers have had some conversations with the Predators surrounding defenseman Mattias Ekholm. Make no mistake, Ekholm can step right in alongside Ivan Provorov and get this team’s defense turned around in a hurry. He is a leader who’s been to a Stanley Cup Final team. Ekholm carries a Cap hit of $3.75 million, which the Flyers can easily fit into their cap.
They currently have $3.2 million in cap space and a deadline cap space of close to $6.8 million.
So, from here to April 12th, the Flyers can realistically add 2 critical pieces to the team.
As anyone who follows my work knows, I’ve always been on the side of “DO NOT trade picks and young assets yet.” However, the Flyers are currently in a unique situation. They can easily turn things around and make some serious noise in the playoffs. The time is now. This team has plenty of young assets, and draft picks to barter with. The 2021 NHL Entry Draft looks to be a total crapshoot outside the top 4-5 picks, so the Flyers 1stround pick, which should land after the 17th pick, can easily be sacrificed to bring in an “Ekholm“ type of player to really help out the team defense.
Oh, and did I mention that during the last Lehigh Valley Phantoms game, the Nashville Predators had TWO scouts present for that game? Well, they did.
The time is NOW Chucky, make a move and get this team back on track sooner rather than later.
Featured Image: Predlines.com