It hasn't been a good summer for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Make no mistake: the Flyers have been working hard to improve their hockey club, trading James van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs to bring in a right-shooting defenseman in Luke Schenn, added another righty to their blueline in Bruno Gervais and signed up a veteran forward with two Stanley Cups on his résumé in Ruslan Fedotenko.
On the other hand, the Flyers lost Matt Carle to the Tampa Bay Lightning in free agency, watched Rick Nash land with the New York Rangers and saw the Nashville Predators step up and match their 14-year, $110-million offer sheet to Shea Weber. Late in July, opportunities for the Flyers to make a splash are drying up fast, with Alexander Semin the latest player off the market after signing with the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. With the Rangers strengthening their claim to favorite status in the Atlantic Division, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren is likely feeling the heat.
On Wednesday, SWR suggested that Philadelphia go hard after Anaheim Ducks winger (and Philly suburbs native) Bobby Ryan, and the team has also met with Phoenix Coyotes star Shane Doan. On Thursday, however, Matt Larkin of The Hockey News had a different Desert Dog in mind.
Hosting a "Puck Panel" video with writers Ken Campbell and Ryan Kennedy, Larkin said, "If I'm the Flyers, I'm kicking the tires on Keith Yandle." Yandle was rumored to be on the trading block last month on the day of the NHL Draft, but not much has been said on the subject since, and Coyotes general manager Don Maloney has made it clear that it would take a very good offer to pry the All-Star defenseman out of the desert.
Is it time for the Flyers to make that kind of an offer?
Philadelphia already has eight defensemen under contract for next season - a total that includes the injured Chris Pronger, whose future in the game is uncertain - but Holmgren made it clear with his move on Weber that the Flyers' blueline could use some help. On that score, Yandle would certainly be a major get. Yandle's offensive talents are unlike anything in the Philadelphia lineup right now, and he'd definitely fill a need for the Flyers.
The question, of course, is what it would take to get him, and beyond that, if it's a price worth paying. The answer, as it happens, could depend on what happens with Doan.
Doan has set Friday as a deadline for potential Coyotes owner Greg Jamison to make significant progress on his purchase of the team, or else the Phoenix captain will sign elsewhere. If Doan doesn't like what he sees, that means the Coyotes will have lost two of their top three scorers from last year's team, and finances will continue to be a concern as long as the Coyotes remain wards of the league. As painful as it might be, Maloney could find as early as Friday that his best option is to trade Yandle with an eye towards the future, and get some mix of young players and prospects who can grow to help the Coyotes wherever their future lies.
Could Philadelphia provide that kind of package? Among the team's prospects, defenseman Erik Gustafsson and forward Nick Cousins would probably generate the most interest. Gustafsson is on the verge of NHL readiness, and Cousins has put up strong scoring numbers with the Soult Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL. With Phoenix coveting high-scoring forwards for their prospect pipeline, Cousins could be an intriguing addition, and while those prospects alone might not be enough to bring Yandle to the City of Brotherly Love, it could be a good start.
In the end, the question could be whom the Flyers want or need more, Ryan or Yandle, or it could depend on whether the Coyotes or Ducks are better trading partners. Either way, keep an eye on the Flyers, because they certainly aren't done dealing.