The Philadelphia Flyers were actually buyers at the NHL Trade Deadline for the first time in years. Rather than being on the bubble, they actually have a shot at winning the Metropolitan Division and doing some damage in the playoffs.
At the deadline, the Flyers find themselves in third place in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 35-20-7. General Manager Chuck Fletcher wasn’t hiding his intentions before February 24th, he made it clear that he wanted to add a center.
The issue? The market for centers, and forwards in general, was thin. Jean-Gabriel Pageau was an ideal fit for the Flyers, but the asking price was too high for Fletcher and he was dealt to a division rival, the New York Islanders.
It seemed that every team in their division made moves. The Hurricanes bolstered their team by adding Vincent Trocheck, Brady Skjei, and Sami Vatanen. The Penguins acquired Patrick Marleau and Conor Sheary. The Rangers re-signed Chris Kreider. Fletcher, however, took a route that many anticipated.
With his limited cap space, he added two centers in Derek Grant and Nate Thompson, who make a combined 1.7 million this year. Are they the most impactful acquisitions at the deadline? Not really. But they add a layer of depth that the Flyers needed down the middle. Not many people really realize it, but the Flyers already have a very solid top-9, it’s all about rounding out the role players.
Grant is having a career with 14 goals in 49 games. He has three shorthanded goals, four game-winning goals and is over 51% on faceoffs (629 taken). He will start his Flyers career on the wing and will be looking to continue his strong season. At 6-foot-3, 206 pounds, he will be a nice fit on the fourth line and could see some time on the penalty kill.
Much like Grant, Nate Thompson was brought in as a depth center capable of PK duties. He will take the center spot on Tuesday on a very heavy line that will probably include Grant and Michael Raffl. Thompson has logged over 141 minutes on the penalty kill this year and has a 55.1% faceoff percentage (733 taken).
It remains to be seen if these guys are going to remain in those respective positions, my guess is they won’t. Alain Vigneault will likely get a feel for them in the next game or two. Under the current regime, they have been very good at making lineup decisions and scratching/sending down players who don’t cut it. Rookie Joel Farabee was sent down today and will see some time with the Phantoms, but I expect he’ll be back with the big club soon.
The Flyers will definitely be highly motivated as their playoff chase continues. These deadline additions are a nice sign of confidence from the GM.