Put down your pitch forks. Extinguish your torches. Here comes some hottakery!
The rumor is that the Flyers will trade the 2nd overall pick and (anchor) Andrew MacDonald to the Vegas Golden Knights for the 6th, 15th, and 24th overall picks.
I love this deal!
Of course there are a lot of you out there who are on the verge of pre-ordering your Nico Hischier/Nolan Patrick jerseys, and are blind with rage to hear such heresy. Let’s walk through why this is a great idea:
- We all laughed at the notion that New Jersey never anticipated picking 1st overall and might take the defenseman they so desperately need because they didn’t plan for such an improbable scenario. Why then would it be surprising to learn that Ron Hextall and the Flyers to have a similar mentality? The natural retort would be, ‘Well, plans change when you luck into winning the draft lottery.’ Which is true, however, when Ron Hextall finds free money, he doesn’t flippantly throw it away. Found money is an asset that he turns into even more found money! Obviously in a “two player draft,” it’s exciting to be in position to pick one of those two players. But just like long-term, low interest investments, our boy Ron Hextall rather take the tack of the more secure, get rich slow model opposed to playing the Power Ball.
- “What do you mean, ‘playing the Power Ball?’ Nico or Nolan are sure things! Why pass on them?” Don’t be mistaken, Nico and Nolan are super exciting and will probably be good, if not great NHLers but neither of them are sure things. If we ignore the torrid tales of Alexandre Daigle, Patrick Stefan, and Nail Yukapov, both Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick are not without their problems. It has been well documented that Patrick is potentially a ticking time bomb of injuries. Does his history of injuries and potential future ailments mean that he’s not worth a first or second overall pick? Of course not, but not being able to stay healthy may be the basis to the “unfulfilled potential” conversations that we all have after Patrick’s career. Then there is Nico Hischier. His meteoric rise is sexy and exciting – it reminds everyone of the way that Patrick Laine soared in the draft rankings last summer. However, a player that has consistently been ranked outside of the top-10 prior to the World Junior Championship concerns me. It very well could be that Hischier has matured and will continue develop into the next Pavel Datsyuk or Jonathan Druin. But those are really high expectations for a kid and while we all (me especially) like to make such fun comparisons, the truth is that Druin and – even more so – Datsyuk are special players that most to all players will never be equal to. Does Hischier compare well when you look at his milestones? He does, but it would be a safer bet to assume that he (or Partick) are not future First or Second Team All-Stars let alone Hall of Famers.
- If the rumors are true, and the Flyers end up with the 6th, 15th, and 24th pick, they are going to end up with great players with those selections. No one refutes the value in having as many selections (let alone first round selections) in a draft to build upon a team’s talent cupboard. But the thing that most people are forgetting is that the Flyers don’t have an immediate need that either Nico or Nolan would be able to satisfy. To review, the Flyers need a veteran-ish (preferably right handed) defenseman, a goaltender, and a scoring winger (which neither Nico are Nolan are). Selecting one of the “only two good players in this draft” would have done nothing but create redundancy. Having three first round draft picks is a much better way to satisfy any team that has multiple needs in the long-term as opposed to drafting a player that we already have at least two (Giroux and Couturier) of.
- “Well, Nico are Nolan could be, if not are better than Giroux and Couturier!” Time may prove for such a claim to be true, but they are not better players today, and may never be. Again, Ron likes to hedge to hedge his bets. three lottery tickets are better than one. Or, in the Flyers case, 13 selections are better than 11. As I wrote about in my last post, this draft is going to produce good players in all of the rounds. We just don’t know it yet. Volume doesn’t equate to certainty but it is very clear that Hextall feels safer taking more shots than relying on one magic bullet.
- WE WOULD BE RID OF ANDREW MACDONALD!!!! Remember that guy we all hate and his is an anchor to our defense and salary cap? That guy would literally be in a desert far, far away from the Flyers. Clearly unloading MacDonald has its advantages but there are two aspects about trading MacDonald that are really interesting: 1) Dave Hakstol would literally never be able to pair him with Ivan Provorov; and 2) MacDonald was one of the last veteran defensemen on this squad. Hextall has been nothing but risk adverse and patient when it comes to bringing his defensemen along. Trading MacDonald could mean that Travis Sanheim, Sam Morin, Robert Haad, and/or Philippe Myers are ahead of schedule and NHL ready.
- Finally, trading MacDonald also brings with it the obvious cap space relief. As mentioned before, the Flyers have multiple immediate needs. People love developing players through the draft but that takes a long time. Cap space is the only way to control making immediate improvements in the immediacy especially since the CBA has all but killed the in-season hockey trade. A lot of the reports have the Golden Knights selecting ALL OF THE GOALIES tonight, one of whom could easily be part of this rumored trade. If you revue the list of available goalies, only two of them would be really worth trading for: Marc Andre Fluery and Petr Marzek. Both of these netminders would require freeing up cap space. Trading MacDonald clears the space sufficiently without having to include a prospect in a salary dump trade like the Blackhawks had to last summer when they traded Teuvo Teravainien with Byron Bickell’s deal.
It has been really fun envisioning the Flyers taking Nico or Nolan, but it will be even more fun watching the Flyers be a legitimate contender faster. Picking second overall does not help us beat the Penguins this, or even for the next couple of years. If the rumors are true, this trade would accomplish long and short-term team needs opposed to winning a lottery and buying a sports car that we don’t need.