By this point, it is well established that any and every option should be on the table for the Philadelphia Flyers as we enter what figures to be an interesting summer for the franchise. When you’re coming off such a bad season, nobody in your organization can be considered untouchable, and GM Chuck Fletcher should be looking into every possibility.
Maybe you’re in the camp that the Flyers need to sign a big name unrestricted free agent like Johnny Gaudreau (and figure out how to manage the cap ceiling in the process), or perhaps you’re more open to a blockbuster trade like the Mitch Marner for Carter Hart and Travis Konecny deal that I suggested. But, how about a guy who has terrorized the Flyers for years — Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak.
Pastrnak didn’t seem like the kind of player who would ever be available in trade discussions, yet it looks like we may have reached that point. With just one year left on his current deal with the Bruins, Pastrnak is supposedly not happy with the direction of the team. Add in the facts that his longtime linemate Patrice Bergeron is likely to retire and his other linemate Brad Marchand will probably miss half of next season after undergoing surgeries on both hips, and you wouldn’t think that David Pastrnak would be too jazzed about lacing up his skates for the B’s again next year.
The time could be right for the Philadelphia Flyers to make a deal for David Pastrnak.
The Bruins also fired head coach Bruce Cassidy, whose name is already being thrown around for the Flyers’ ongoing vacancy. It was a surprise move by Boston GM Don Sweeney, and perhaps a signal that a rebuild is imminent for a Boston club who had an objectively successful season but has gotten old quickly and likely feels that they won’t be able to successfully compete with Tampa Bay, Florida, and Toronto within their own division going forward. Given all this, plus Sweeney’s history of letting his players leave in free agency instead of enticing them to stay with a new contract, the writing might be on the wall when it comes to Pastrnak.
And so, now it may be time for the Flyers or another club in desperate need of the scoring that David Pastrnak can provide to pounce. As a reminder, Pastrnak is sitting at just under a point per game for his career, with 504 points in 510 NHL games. That’s solid. It’s his work against the Flyers, however, that should make the Orange and Black intensely interested. His 19 goals and 31 points (in 25 games) against the Flyers are tied for the most he has against any team in both categories. He has three hat tricks against the Flyers over the past two seasons.
I’m not trying to be as simplistic as saying “Trade for this guy so he doesn’t light you up a couple times every year”, but that point has some validity when you have a dearth of offensive talent like the Flyers do. Any opportunity to land a two-time 40-goal scorer who has netted double-digit power-play goals in five of the last six seasons has to be looked into.
Now the question becomes, what would the Bruins need in return? The Flyers no doubt have some attractive pieces, but the cost of Pastrnak’s immediate impact must not cripple the team down the road. The usual mix of a “pick, prospect, and roster player” probably comes into play here. It legitimately hurts that Chuck Fletcher was only able to land the Panthers’ 2024 first-round pick (which can actually end up being moved to 2025) instead of their 2023 pick in the Claude Giroux trade, as the pick had been dealt it to Montreal mere days before. It would have been a nice trade chip in this case, with Boston likely to accept a first-rounder next year but probably not wanting to wait until 2024.
The Flyers also do not own a second-round pick in either the 2022 or 2023 drafts, which could have been effective sweeteners. You then have to ask yourself if either this year’s first-rounder (5th overall) or next year’s could be a consideration. It’s a tough sell either way, since this year’s selection is so high, and next year gives you a chance at Connor Bedard, the presumptive top pick who will no doubt become a franchise savior for whichever team lands him (which I’m sure will be the Penguins). Maybe trading the 2023 first-round pick but making it lottery-protected would be good enough for Boston?
As far as younger and cheaper players, I’d posit that Cam York would really be the only guy I’d hesitate at trading, based on what he can potentially provide for the Flyers going forward at a key position. But if Boston wants someone like Bobby Brink, Ronnie Attard, Noah Cates…sure, why not? Further down in the system, Tyson Foerster might be the only player off limits, but even that should be negotiable.
Among established players, it’s hard to tell if the Bruins would want someone with term remaining or if they would prefer players with contracts expiring sooner so that they could then flip those players for more assets if need be. Either way, the Flyers would need to clear some significant salary in order to make room for Pastrnak and his new contract that would kick in starting in 2023. Yes, let’s not forget that this whole trade scenario hinges on being able to extend him past this year.
New Englander Cam Atkinson might love playing in Boston; then, of course, there’s the always available Travis Konecny. And if they want a defenseman, maybe it’s finally time for Ivan Provorov to head out of town so that the Flyers can move money around to keep Travis Sanheim.
I realize we all like to talk about real sports like we’re playing in a fantasy league, but I do believe that the Flyers have a legitimate chance to land David Pastrnak given the current situation in Boston and the assets at the Flyers’ disposal. In the end, the benefit might not be worth the cost, but no stone should go unturned. In this league, and sports in general, you have to be opportunistic. And while David Pastrnak doesn’t figure to be falling right into a team’s lap, it appears he is there for the taking if someone wants to take a swing. As always, Flyers fans can hope and dream.