The Philadelphia Flyers, 7-4 winners over the New York Rangers earlier today, are facing some tough decisions ahead of this year’s NHL trade deadline. A sudden mid-season surge has the team in the midst of a playoff race. In fact, don’t look now but the Flyers sit a comfortable six points up of the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and they’re just three points back of Metropolitan Division leaders the Washington Capitals.
With some well executed trades or lineup tweaks, it’s not a stretch to imagine the Flyers as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders this postseason. Of course, the team’s biggest need, another reliable 1A/1B goaltender, just got a whole lot more important. Backup goalie Michael Neuvirth left today’s contest against the Rangers with a lower-body injury and did not return. Rookie Alex Lyon replaced Neuvirth.
Of course, starter Brian Elliott also went down with an injury last week and it was announced just a few days ago that he underwent abdominal surgery. He’s expected to mixx at least 5-6 weeks as he rehabs from surgery.
So, if Neuvirth is out… and Elliott is out. How confident are Flyers fans heading into a postseason run with Lyon between the pipes?
The good news is that Flyers GM Ron Hextall has options. Of course there’s junior hockey sensation Carter Hart, who is having a historically good season with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. In 31 games this season, the 19=-year-old Hart has a remarkable 1.58 GAA and .950 save percentage. Of course, the WHL is a long way from the NHL and it’s probably not fair to expect the teenager to save the day for the Flyers.
Another option however, according to the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James, is Detroit Red Wings netminder Petr Mrazek. In her latest mailbag column for the Free Press, St. James revealed the fact that Wings GM Ken Holland offered up Mrazek to the Flyers for a 3rd round pick, but the Flyers declined.
From St. James' article:
Petr Mrazek is not drawing interest – he was offered to Philadelphia after the Flyers lost Brian Elliott last week (he’s out five-to-six weeks) for an asking price of a third-round pick and the Flyers declined.
To be fair, this was before today’s development with Neuvirth, so you have to imagine that Hextall will reconsider. The question is, given the Flyers’ situation, did the asking price on Mrazek just increase? Could Holland demand a 2nd round pick? Or a 3rd and a 4th?
It remains to be seen what the Flyers end up doing, but one thing’s for sure: if Neuvirth is out for any significant length of time, the team will be forced to make a move. Whether or not Mrazek is the route the decide to go, who knows? There aren’t many intriguing goaltending options on the trade market right now and with a playoff appearance hanging in the balance, is it time for Hextall to pull the trigger on a deal? If the team can acquire a quality NHL goaltender for the low price of a 3rd round pick... why not pull the trigger?