While the Flyers continue to make somewhat of a surprising push for the playoffs, GM Chuck Fletcher finds himself in a unique position of deciding whether to hold onto assets or continue to pursue a rebuild on the fly. Most recently, Fletcher found a way to balance these two worlds with a seemingly small trade. However, overall, this trade has led to filling a potential void and shedding some much-needed salary from a player who has spent significant time in the minors this season.
The trade was as follows:
D Christian Folin
W Dale Weise
D David Schlemko
C Byron Froese
What did this trade do for the Flyers?
First, it freed up valuable cap space. Even with retaining a portion of Folin’s contract for the remainder of this season, the Flyers found a way to unload the over two million dollar contract owed to Dale Weise. In total, the Flyers obtained approximately $900,000 in cap space. While this may not seem like much, this year’s free agent crop looks excellent. With the potential of Matt Duchene, Mark Stone, Artemi Panarin, and Erik Karlsson available, the Flyers need every dollar available to them to potentially make a run at one of these players. The Flyers have had interest in Panarin in the past, and every dollar that is freed up is an opportunity to pursue the around $11 million asking price of Panarin or likely Karlsson.
Second, Fletcher got his veteran blue-liner. Even though Schlemko has spent most of the year in the minors, it wasn’t too long ago he was considered by many to be an analytics darling and a strong third pairing defender. He has struggled with injuries the last few seasons, but it wouldn’t be surprising if, given the opportunity, Schlemko could find himself in the mix as a 5/6 defender. At best, he is an equal replacement for Folin. He is owed only about $1.8 million for next season, so if the Flyers were to choose to buy him out or bury him in the minors if it doesn’t work out the rest of the season, Schlemko is a low-risk, high reward opportunity for the team going forward.
Third, the Phantoms receive strong depth. Froese has played some in the NHL as a fourth line center. However, at this point in his career, he is a strong number one AHL center. He puts up strong offensive numbers and adds some depth. He can only fill in if need be on the Flyers fourth line. The Froese acquisition gives Fletcher confidence in calling up players from the Phantoms, as he did in his recall of another recent acquisition Justin Bailey and defensive prospect Phil Myers.
Overall, this trade might seem insignificant, but it is definitely a positive for the Flyers in the short-term and the long-term. Hopefully, in the coming days, Fletcher will get to continue to stretch his trade muscles and make positive strides towards freeing up cap space and providing depth currently.