(Photo credit: Amy Irvin, 38 Photography)
The Flyers have four fourth line talents currently on their roster, and several prospects, such as Nick Cousins and Taylor Leier, who would likely fill bottom six roles going forward. Therefore, going into the trade deadline, the Flyers should have the goal of trading at least 2 and preferably three of the following players: RJ Umberger, Ryan White, Pierre-Eduoard Bellemarre, and Chris VandeVelde.
Via Own the Puck
Via Own the Puck
Of the four players, only Ryan White shows any shot suppression ability and his propensity for bad penalties still means that he drags the team down. Bellemarre and VandeVelde are decent penalty killers, but their issues at 5v5 and ages (VandeVelde is 28, Bellemarre turns 31 a week after the deadline) mean that they’re not part of any long term plans. RJ Umberger’s is a shell of the player who lit up the Habs in the 2008 playoffs.
RJ Umberger is also, to an extent, the easiest player to predict a move for. It just won’t happen until the summer. When the salary cap for next season is set, a team needing the floor and a fourth line forward will likely take Umberger for a 7th round pick just to make the floor. The only question will be how much money the Flyers need to eat of the 4.6M cap hit to get there. Ideally, the Flyers will eat 1.5 or so, but realistically, they’ll probably need to eat 50% of Umberger to move him.
Ryan White is on an expiring deal, has some shot suppression ability and is a fourth line forward when he keeps his head on straight. Hextall got a third round pick for Zac Rinaldo, so hope for the same. But with Tyrel Goulbourne as roughly the same player in the AHL, it might be time to acquire another mid round pick for White. Of all four players on this list, three of them break even in terms of penalty differential, and then there is Ryan White who takes 1.6 penalties for every 0.7 he draws.
Chris VandeVelde is the probably the player that White hopes to be. White and VandeVelde gets roughly the same possession results, but VandeVelde is without the penalty issues of White. VandeVelde kills penalties, but the Flyers PK isn’t exactly good with him on the ice. The only issue is that teams do not exactly go out and trade for fourth line forwards. Once again, like Rinaldo, a mid round pick is probably the best hope.
Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare is probably the best of the group in that he’s a decent penalty killer over the other three and can take fourth line shifts at any forward position. But once again, there’s not really a strict market for him. So again, the best hope is another third round pick.
The real issue here is that the Flyers have 4 players who are competing for 2 spots on the fourth line. This forces them to use Umberger above his talent level, further exposing his weaknesses and age. It also means that Taylor Leier is stuck with the Phantoms despite tearing the AHL up after his cup of coffee earlier this season. This logjam of fourth line players is a large reason the Flyers depth scoring has been weak all season.