There are three things the Flyers should want back in any trade that removes their captain and best player:
- Skill. It doesn’t matter if it is offensive skill, or defensive it has to be a player who will get top six or top two minutes.
- Leadership, if the worst for the Predators does happen and they lose their Captain after having lost Suter already, there is no way the current team is going succeed without an infusion of additional leadership.
- Marketability. The loss of Weber to the Predators is greater than the loss of Sundin to the Toronto Maple Leafs, greater than the loss of Lidstrom to the Detroit Red Wings and greater even than the loss of Gretzky for the Oilers, Kings or New York Rangers. He is their first great star. He is the team identity, he has a solid shot at the hall of fame, and their is no one on the roster to fill that void.
Of the players currently under contract to the Philadelphia Flyers, there are some players who are highly desirable. Danny Briere is talented, a playoff wizard, hasattitude and might just be the perfect player to slide into the gap in the Post Weber-Suter era, having played in Buffalo when they were at low ebb he’s seen unsightly situations before and still gone on. If only he didn’t have non-movement special (aka The Calgary Special). Claude Giroux is almost certainly off the table from the Flyers standpoint. If he’s not, you have to take his two concussions in four seasons into consideration.
Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier are both young, dynamic and highly respected players. It is uncertain what they will be in the next two or three years. Schenn produced even in the playoffs, but might get less interest from the Predators for a certain lack of defensive prowess. Couturier on the other hand has a both offensive flair and defensive chops.
While recently added to the team, Wayne Simmonds could be a godsend to the Predators. He’s big, he plays a touch mean, he’s got skill and he put up 28 goals playing essentially third line minutes. The question with Simmonds is can he keep up or increase that production playing first or second line minutes? Hartnell is a bit older than any of the other forwards the Preds should consider except Briere, but there’s upsides. First he played in the Preds system before and knows what to expect from it and the fans. But, consistency is not Scott Hartnell’s thing. Over the last four seasons he’s scored 30, 14, 24, and 37 goals without having missed any time.
The Flyers don’t have an impressively deep prospect pool and any conversation for the Predators that doesn’t include Scott Laughton is probably a waste of time. Goaltending? Not the Flyers strong suit. Defense? The Predators might want a medium term fix like Coburn to hold things together until Josi, Blum, or someone else can step into the vacuum. I would, in the Predators shoes also take draft picks. Multiple second round picks are worthwhile, and even third, fourth and fifth round picks are common currency in trades and still able to produce solid NHL players. Weber himself is a second round pick, Chara a third round pick and both of the St Louis Blues goalies last year were ninth rounders.
In bringing players back to the Predators attention does have to be paid to what is going on in labor negotiations. If the owners succeed in shanking the NHLPA with the proposed radical reduction in revenue shared, the cap will drop severely. If that happens and they move too much money back to Nashville’s books, they might be forced to jettison dearly bought offensive depth.