Philadelphia Flyers: Chris Kreider makes sense

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

As the NHL trade deadline rapidly approaches, the Philadelphia Flyers are no doubt looking up I-95 and trying to decide if they should make a play for Chris Kreider.

The Philadelphia Flyers have a decision to make between now and February 24, which is the NHL’s trade deadline.

Actually, it’s not much of a decision for GM Chuck Fletcher and the rest of the organization’s brain trust.

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They must do whatever it takes to set this team up for not only a playoff appearance, but a legitimate chance at making a run once they get there. Draft picks and prospects are nice, but they can and should be sacrificed if an opportunity presents itself to make the team better here and now.

And that’s where their old foes, the New York Rangers, come in.

The Blueshirts possess perhaps the top trade piece on the market in all-star winger Chris Kreider, and they are definitely willing to play ball with anyone, even the Flyers. Never mind the fact that these two teams have only made two trades with each other, and minor ones at that, since the Eric Lindros deal in 2001. Nobody can be judicious about their dance partners anymore, and that’s a street that goes two ways.

On the Flyers’ end, I understand the fear of dealing away part of your future and potentially bolstering a rival at the same time. It’s a scary thought. But Kreider would be a great reinforcement for this team.

While I don’t harbor any ideas about Kreider being the missing piece that will ensure the Flyers hoist the Stanley Cup in June, he can have value just by giving this team a better shot once the playoffs arrive (assuming they get there in the first place.)

The Flyers have a slew of young players such as Carter Hart, Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick, all of whom are either yet to experience postseason hockey or have barely had a sniff so far in their NHL careers. With Kreider (77 career playoff games) aboard, the Flyers can add a tested veteran who will help on and off the ice.

Now, about that price tag.

The Rangers will almost certainly ask for a first round draft pick. They got it in a similar situation with Kevin Hayes last year. And they’ll also probably want a later draft pick, perhaps something like a conditional one that jumps from a third-rounder to a second-rounder if Kreider’s new team reaches a certain round of the playoffs.

The Flyers should not balk at any of this. Their pipeline is fairly strong currently. Hoarding theoretical players who MIGHT help in three or four years is not the way to go. We should all be on board with whatever the draft pick compensation might be.

Maybe the Flyers could even talk the Rangers into trading for picks in the 2021 draft instead of this year’s. With Seattle in play next year to bloat the league to 31 teams, each draft slot will get “one player worse” in each subsequent round, at least in theory.

The true sticky wicket in this scenario is whether or not the Flyers would be willing to part with a living, breathing player in a trade for Kreider. Might that be Joel Farabee? Morgan Frost? That would hurt. Call me a coward, but I think I’d draw the line right there. In a perfect world, the Flyers could get Kreider for a package such as a first-rounder, a second-rounder, and basically any one of their prospects besides Farabee, Frost or Cam York.

The Rangers will benefit from the economic principle of supply and demand this year. So many teams in the NHL talk themselves into the idea that they have a shot, leaving very few true sellers. New York is under no such delusions and will be able to maximize the return for Kreider.

Logically, the Flyers should make a play sooner rather than later. You’d rather have Kreider for the last 25 games or so instead of just 20 games. One goal, one point could make all the difference this season. Plus, the final price might be a bit more palatable now than in two weeks.

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So, despite the hatred between the teams and their fans, I’m of the mindset that the Flyers should show the Rangers this week that they’re willing to play ball. Get Kreider here, even if he’s just a rental. But who knows, maybe the Flyers might even try to re-sign him if things work out well and they can unload a high-priced veteran this offseason.