Quick Hits: Draft Tendencies, Trouba and More
Quick Hits: June 18, 2019
1) Could the Flyers have topped the New York Rangers' successful trade offer to the Winnipeg Jets -- defenseman Neal Pionk and the 20th overall pick of the 2019 Draft -- in exchange for 25-year-old blueliner Jacob Trouba? Certainly.
Could the Flyers have traded for Trouba, stayed out of arbitration this summer with him and avoided him becoming an unrestricted free agent and potentially walking away next summer? That I do not know. If the answer is no, a trade would not have advisable.
If the answer is yes, could the Flyers have signed Trouba to a long-term extension to preempt UFA status, re-signed restricted free agent defensemen Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim to multi-year extensions (as well as forward Travis Konency) and kept their long-term salary cap in order? That would take some doing, especially in light of the fact that the team still plans to add a second-line center.
The Rangers certainly added a good all-around defenseman who will play huge minutes for them in all situations and put up a healthy number of points offensively. From a hockey standpoint, Trouba would have been a definite upgrade here in Philadelphia. But just because New York was able to acquire him doesn't necessarily mean a bidding war was in order. Trouba has not shown himself, as least thus far, to be a Norris Trophy level defenseman whereby he'd be an "acquire at all costs, and restructure around him as needed" type of player.
2) On a somewhat similar note, Frank Seravalli tweeted yesterday that there had been progress in the Flyers' contract talks with Kevin Hayes, although the deal was not done yet. Overpaying is a virtual fact-of-life when it comes to the free agent market, so it will be interesting to see the cap number and term that Hayes signs for, either in Philadelphia or elsewhere.
3) Many NHL amateur scouting staffs have a positional bias when it comes to ranking forwards for the first round of the NHL Draft. There is often a preference for natural centers over natural wingers, even if a junior center (or player who has played both center and wing) projects to play a wing at the pro level. For a natural winger to be ranked above a center, one or more of the following often has to be part of the scouting report:
* There is a high degree of confidence among the scouts that the winger will score with regularity at the NHL level, and at a significantly higher rate than a center ranked in the same range;
* The winger has demonstrated "center-like" traits. Generally, this means the winger is viewed as a multi-tool player (e.g. above-average hockey sense plus speed plus stickhandling ability, he has the two-way potential to someday play both ends of special teams in the NHL, etc.) and not "just a shooter" or just a speedster and clever passer;
* If a team has multiple first-round picks, they might be willing to do a little more projecting in stepping up on a winger with a little higher ceiling but a slightly lower floor.
The Flyers are among the NHL organizations that tend to have these preferences. This has not changed despite the assistant GM changeover from Chris Pryor to Brent Flahr. Actually, Flahr told me in our recent conversation for the Flyers' official website that he and "Sarge" have similar philosophies. Apart from respecting the work ethic and knowledge base among the Flyers scouts, Flahr said his fundamental comfort level with the Flyers' already-established processes are why the scouting staff has been essentially kept intact and only relatively small preferential tweaks have been made to this point.
How will this play out come Friday in the first round the Draft? I suspect this might be a year where they would draft certain wingers -- Matthew Boldy or Vasili Pozkoldin, for example, if he slips through the Top 10 -- but selecting Arthur Kaliyev would be an out-of-character pick for Philly's usual preferences.
4) June 18 Flyers Alumni birthday: Antero Niitymäki (1980).
5) Today in Flyers History: On June 18, 2007, the Flyers acquired the rights to impending free agent left winger Scott Hartnell and defenseman Kimmo Timonen from the Nashville Predators and immediately announced they had signed the players to respective six-year contracts. In return, the Flyers returned the 23rd overall pick of the 2007 NHL Draft (acquired by Philadelphia months earlier in the deal that sent Peter Forsberg to Nashville) to the Predators. Nashville used the pick on defenseman Jonathan Blum.