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Meltzer's 411: Drafting the Trade Winds

A look at the history & frenzy of what could lie ahead on the unofficial trade deadline at the NHL Draft

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

The National Hockey League's Entry Draft weekend is one of the pivotal events on the sport's calendar. First and foremost, the Entry Draft itself represents the game's future; the picks will shape the long-term depth of teams' rosters. 

Just as important, Draft weekend has become almost like a "second trade deadline" as teams look either to fill NHL-level needs ahead of the start of the free agency season or to add Draft pick assets. Each year during Draft weekend, there are dozens of trade proposals bandied about -- some that are new proposals, some that are continuations of previous discussions -- although only a minority will culminate in actual trades. 

From a Flyers standpoint, it is impossible to predict whether general manager Chuck Fletcher will pull the trigger on any trades immediately before, during or after Draft weekend. It takes two agreeable sides to make a deal, after all. What is safe to say is that Fletcher will be a very busy man between now and early July. 

Historically, here's a look at what the Flyers have done over Draft weekend -- apart from their Entry Draft selections, except where notable -- from 2007 through 2018. Many of the speculative trades were reported in The Philadelphia Flyers at 50 by Jay Greenberg.

2007: Four days before the 2007 Draft, at which the Flyers selected James van Riemsdyk with the second overall pick, Philly made a major trade with the Nashville Predators. The Flyers flipped the 2007 first-round acquired from the Predators a few months earlier in the Peter Forsberg deal back to the Predators in exchange for impending free agents Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell. The Flyers then immediately signed Timonen and Hartnell to respective six-year contracts. Later, over Draft weekend proper, the Flyers traded a 2007 third-round pick and 2008 second-round pick to trade up into the second round in order to select defenseman Kevin Marshall. 

 

2008: Facing a salary cap crunch, the Flyers traded R.J. Umberger to the Columbus Blue Jackets on the day of the 2008 Draft's first round in exchange for Colorado's 2008 first-round pick (defenseman Luca Sbisa at 19th overall) and a 2008 third-round pick (defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon). Additionally, in an ill-fated move, the Flyers traded their own 2008 first-round pick (27th overall) to the Washington Capitals in exchange for 25-year-old NHL roster defenseman Steve Eminger; himself a former first-round pick. The Capitals used the acquired pick to select offensive-minded defenseman John Carlson. Eminger struggled in 12 games with the Flyers and then was traded to Tampa Bay along with Steve Downie in exchange for defenseman Matt Carle.

 

2009: The Flyers pulled off a blockbuster trade over Draft weekend: the team acquired veteran superstar defenseman Chris Pronger from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for power forward Joffrey Lupul, 19-year-old defenseman Sbisa, Philadelphia's 2009 first-round pick (John Moore), Philadelphia's 2010 first-round pick (Emerson Etem) and a 2011 third-round pick. Along with Pronger, the Flyers acquired minor league forward Ryan Dingle.

 

2010: The Flyers made some minor prospect/pick deals at the 2010 Draft. More notable were three discussions involving veteran goalies that did not culminate in trades. The Flyers had all-but-completed trades done for San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and, shortly thereafter, for Dallas Stars goaltender Marty Turco, but neither trade-and-sign deal for an impending unrestricted free agent goalie panned out. Nabokov planned to return to Russia and sign in the KHL, while Turco's contract demands were beyond what the Flyers (who had salary cap issues) were able to commit. That weekend, the Flyers also fielded a one-for-one trade proposal from the Boston Bruins. Boston offered veteran goaltender Tim Thomas straight up for Simon Gagne. That failed to come to fruition for two reasons: the Flyers needed to shed salary -- which was why they were forced to trade Gagne a year ahead of potential UFA status -- and Thomas' salary was a virtual wash with Gagne. Secondly, Gagne was unwilling at the time to waive the no-movement clause in his contract. Weeks later, Gagne agreed to waive his NMC for one team and one team only: Tampa Bay. 

 

2011: The 2011 Draft weekend was a monumental one in Flyers history. On June 23, the team traded Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for young forward Jakub Voracek, Columbus' 2011 first-round pick (the Flyers chose Sean Couturier at 8th overall) and Columbus' 2011 third-round pick (Philly picked center Nick Cousins). The same day, the Flyers traded Mike Richards to the LA Kings in exchange for NHL roster right winger Wayne Simmonds, top LA prospect Brayden Schenn and a 2012 second round pick (traded by the Flyers to Dallas near the 2012 trade deadline in exchange for defenseman Nicklas Grossmann). Earlier in the day, the Flyers announced a nine-year contract for goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, whose rights had been acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes on June 7.

 

2012: After an unhappy 2011-12 season spent as Bryzgalov's backup, Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky demanded a trade under threat of returning to Russia to play in the KHL as soon as he became a restricted free agent the next summer. In exchange for not going public with the trade demand (which would have decreased Philly's leverage), the Flyers traded Bobrovsky to Columbus for a 2012 second-round pick. The Flyers used the pick on goaltender Anthony Stolarz. Additionally, after months of bandying about trade proposals with the Toronto Maple Leafs that involved left winger James van Riemsdyk going to Toronto and defenseman Luke Schenn coming to Philly (and being reunited with brother Brayden), the two sides finally agreed to do the deal as one-for-one exchange. The trade was announced shortly after the end of the Draft. The premature end of Pronger's career in the first half of the 2011-12 season due to a severe eye injury and post-concussion syndrome was a key factor in why the Flyers were in the market for Schenn. The defenseman's right-handed shot also factored into the deal after New Jersey exploited the lack of a RH defenseman in their forechecking strategy against Philly in the playoffs.

 

2013: The Flyers discussed various trade ideas over Draft weekend in Newark that year but none came close to fruition. 

 

2014: The 2014 Draft was hosted by the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center. Philly made a push to acquire the first overall pick of the Draft from Florida (which the Panthers used on Aaron Ekblad) but the deal was unable to be consummated. 

 

2015: After selecting defenseman Ivan Provorov with the seventh overall pick of the 2015 Draft, the organization made a move to trade up later in the first round from 29th to 24th to ensure they could draft forward Travis Konecny while he was still on the board. The Flyers sent the 29th overall pick (Gabriel Carlsson) and a 2015 second-round pick (Jeremy Bracco) to the Maple Leafs for the pick that Philadelphia used for Konecny. After the draft, the Flyers traded Grossmann and the remainder of Pronger's contract to the Coyotes in exchange for forward Sam Gagner and a 2017 fourth-rounder (later traded to in a three-for-one pick swap at the 2017 Draft that enabled the Flyers to move up in the second round). Subsequently, on the day after the Draft, Boston agreed to another deal that had been discussed over the weekend. The Flyers traded agitating forward Zac Rinaldo to the Bruins in exchange for a 2017 third-round pick (goaltender Kirill Ustimenko).

 

2016: The Flyers traded down in the first round of the 2016 Draft. Philly sent the 18th overall pick (Logan Stanley) to Winnipeg in exchange for the 22nd overall pick (choosing Russian center German Rubtsov) and the 36th overall pick (Pascal Laberge). Philadelphia also included a 2016 third-round pick (Luke Green) in the deal to make a 2-for-2 swap of picks with the Jets.

 

2017: After the Flyers selected Nolan Patrick with the second overall pick of the 2017 Draft, they made a major trade with St. Louis. The Blues received forward Brayden Schenn and sent the Flyers a 2017 first-round pick (Morgan Frost at 27th overall), a 2018 first-round pick (Joel Farabee at 14th overall) and veteran forward Jori Lehterä. On the second day of the Draft, Philly made a three-for-one pick swap with the Coyotes to move up to the 35th overall pick and select left wing Isaac Ratcliffe. In return, Philly sent the 44th (Filip Westerlund), 75th (Nate Schnarr) and 108th (Noel Hoefenmayer) picks to Arizona. The pick that the Coyotes used on Hoefenmayer was originally acquired by the Flyers in the same trade that brought Sam Gagner to Philadelphia.

 

2018: The Flyers discussed various trade ideas with other teams at the 2018 Draft in Dallas but ultimately stood pat except for a 7th round pick swap. 

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