With Michal Neuvirth still on injured reserve with a lower body injury for another two to three weeks, it’s probably a bit early to look at what to do with him on his return. However, given Anthony Stolarz has played very well in both the AHL and his pair of NHL appearances, the Flyers need to go into the new calendar year with an open mind regarding trading Michal Neuvirth.
Now, to begin, in the interest of honesty and fairness, Anthony Stolarz is exempt from waivers. He can be sent back to the AHL Phantoms at any time without reason or cause therefore, keeping Neuvirth is a viable option. In fact, having Stolarz play games in the AHL will only keep him fresh and strong for 2017. However, with expansion looming, there is a viable reason to trade Neuvirth now and the Los Angeles Kings are a prime destination.
For starters, no pun intended, Neuvirth is a pure rental, and with Jon Quick sidelined potentially until March with an injury, Neuvirth makes a lot more sense than Jeff Zatkoff (SV% .890 as of Dec 16, 2016) and Peter Budaj (SV% of .907 as of Dec 16, 2016) and with his 1.625 cap hit, he fits financially as well as the Kings could fit Neuvirth without needing to dip into LTIR as per Cap Friendly shown below.
Via Cap Friendly
For the Flyers, getting rid of Neuvirth’s hit undoes the need for LTIR to stay compliant.
Via Cap Friendly
Now that we know the cap works, it’s time to discuss what advantage the Flyers gain by moving Neuvirth to the Kings
iii) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.
As of now, the Flyers would be forced to expose Anthony Stolarz in the upcoming expansion draft. Alex Lyon does not have the requisite accrued seasons to be exposed. So, if the Flyers are unable to extend Steve Mason, they would be unable to protect Stolarz, barring the acquisition of another netminder.
However, a Kings-Flyers trade could solve these issues for both teams. First let’s do the deal as follows:
To PHI: Jeff Zatkoff, Round 3 pick in 2017
To LAK: Michal Neuvirth
First the Flyers instantly waive Zatkoff to the AHL. Goalies almost never get claimed and given Zatkoff’s weak performance early on, he’s likely to pass through waivers. And if he is claimed, it’s still no great loss to Philly as Neuvy’s UFA status doesn’t change the expansion situation. If he’s unclaimed, then Zatkoff is the expansion draft fodder and Stolarz can be protected. This would allow the Flyers to “pocket extend” Mason and announce any deal with him after the expansion draft. It also would allow the Flyers to drive down the price on Mason, as Stolarz gaining NHL experience this year could prove him to be a viable option in net. This would allow the Flyers to go into the 17-18 season with a tandem of Mason-Stolarz and having Zatkoff as the AHL-NHL swingman for next year. The Flyers would also gain an extra third round pick, which they could either use to help find a rental at the trade deadline, or have an extra asset to move around at the draft like they’ve done at each of the 2015 and 2016 NHL entry drafts.
For the Kings, they gain a more reliable goalie in Neuvirth to help pursue a playoff spot in Quick’s absence. They can also extend Neuvirth to fit the expansion requirements for next season, or just let him walk as a UFA. Either way, it keeps the Kings in the hunt.
Of course, this deal isn’t required at all. The Flyers are in control because of the fact that Stolarz can be sent back to the AHL without requiring waivers. In the end, the Flyers have all the options, and that means they can sell high on Neuvirth or keep him. The choice is theirs and that is a luxury many teams would love to have.