Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)
As the Flyers season goes on and on, it becomes less and less likely that they have a reasonable chance at making the playoffs. If the Flyers are smart heading into the trade deadline, they’ll begin to make moves in an attempt to replace older veterans with younger talent to prepare for the future.
Assuming that the Flyers follow this path, it’s wise to look into potential returns for players who could be shipped out.
(Author’s note: with CapGeek gone, all salary information comes from NHL Numbers.)
Let’s start with one of the most divisive players on the Flyers current roster, the longest tenured Flyer, Braydon Coburn.
Coburn’s supporters will tout him as a solid defensive defenseman who owns the teams highest rate of zone entries defended and is also a solid possession driver from the blueline via his ability to suppress opposing chances.
Coburn’s detractors will point to his limited offensive skillset, propensity for noticeable mistakes and lack of a physical game as reasons that he’s overrated.
In order to determine what the fair value is, it’s best to look at comparable trades for other similar players. It was awfully tough to find a comparable trade. Very few non-puck moving defenders see the usage that Coburn does and have been traded recently or are rumored to be traded.
War on Ice provides the data, all data at 5v5 score adjusted, sample size being Jan 2013 to present.
Of the list of names, we see Jeff Petry (who the Flyers are rumored to be interested in), Brenden Dillon and Jason Demers (swapped for each other several weeks ago), Dion Phaneuf (part of a huge Calgary-Toronto deal a few years ago), and Johnny Boychuk (sent from Boston to the Islanders for picks this preseason).
So, Dion and Coburn are not compatible players, I included Dion because he’s the control, a defender who was perceived as an all around solid player and therefore received a big haul. Coburn doesn’t have that value due to his lack of offensive skill.
Demers and Dillon were swapped for each other, effectively making this tough to do, Dillon’s analytics show that he is in fact almost comparable to Coburn as they were deployed in similar fashions in terms of teammates and zone starts, however Coburn faced much tougher competition. Demers played sheltered minutes against easy opponents and if not for being swapped for Dillon, would not appear on this list.
Jeff Petry comes up as a player who faced weaker competition than Coburn, but did so using tougher zone deployment as evidenced by his lack of O-zone starts. Oddly enough, if you want to swap players due to handedness, like the Dillon-Demers swap, Petry for Coburn handles that. Of course, Edmonton would likely want a young prospect or pick tossed in because of the age difference between Coburn and Demers.
Likely trade: Coburn + Jason Akeson for Jeff Petry and a conditional pick. Condition being if Petry resigns in PHI as a pending UFA, Flyers get the 5th round choice of the Oilers, if Petry walks, the Flyers get the Oilers 2nd round pick.
The deal works for the Oilers because Akeson’s scoring talent in the AHL gives them a young winger with scoring potential to play with their young group of 1st overall picks while Coburn adds a steadying presence to their blueline. Given Craig Berube’s insistence at not using Akeson, now is the best time to get some value for him before his window as an NHL player closes.
For the Flyers, Jeff Petry is younger and can be extended for 3-4 years at a 3-4M cap hit. Petry’s lack of favor in Edmonton will drive down his value despite his ability to drive play. Petry would work as a stopgap in case the Flyers decide Sam Morin needs a year in the AHL to further develop. Petry’s right shot would likely pair well with Gostisbehere or Streit next season depending on who is still wearing orange and black.
Johnny Boychuk was dealt from Boston to the Islanders for picks right at the end of the preseason in order for the Bruins to become salary cap compliant.
While the Boychuk returned a similar haul as to what the Flyers got for Meszaros, the logical trading partner in this scenario might be inclined to give up a bit more. The Winnipeg Jets have lost several defensemen due to injury this season. They’ve been playing D turned RW turned D again Dustin Byfuglien and multiple AHL callups on their blue line. Also when checking the Flyers and Jets rosters, we see Mark Stuart and Jacob Trouba are deployed against similar competition with more favorable zone starts and still lack the possession driving that Coburn has this season.
Should the Jets look at their injured defense and this performance chart, the Jets may see themselves as a Coburn rental away from a deep playoff run. The Jets have money to spend and running Coburn-Byfuglien as a top pair would allow them to shelter weaker defenders like Stuart and the very young Jacob Trouba and not rely on stopgap acquisition Jay Harrison.
Coburn would be a rental for the Jets who are poised for deeper playoff run on the back of Michael Hutchinson in net. If the Jets like Coburn, they can keep him for the last year of his deal and move someone else or if he’s a rental, at the draft the Jets can move Coburn again for a different roster player or different need.
The Flyers could try to ask for Winnipeg’s first round pick in 2015 and see if the Jets bite on that deal, the Jets do not have a 2nd round pick in the 2015 draft. If not the Flyers could always ask for the 2016 first or a 2015 third, 2016 second and third rounder.
The Jets desperately need a playoff appearance to validate their draft and develop strategy as their core is aging and the new group might not be ready to usurp them. Winnipeg might cough up the 1st round pick.
Ideal scenario: Coburn for a 2015 first round pick.
Realistic: Coburn is dealt for a combination of 2nd and 3rd round picks spread over the next two seasons.
So, what say you? What is Braydon Coburn realistically worth?