Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Flyers' deadline target: Yandle ... or stay pat

The Flyers had interest in trying to bring back Jaromir Jagr, but their interest had real financial limits, so Jagr went to the Boston Bruins.
The Flyers had interest in San Jose's goalless power forward Ryane Clowe, too, but as one source said, that interest was so "complicated" by salary cap uncertainties regarding a long-term contract extension, the Flyers eventually stepped aside and the New York Rangers traded for Clowe.
Two down, none coming as the trade deadline now lies hours away. But the Flyers have gained one important thing: a reaffirmation of where they stand.
Team president Peter Luukko indicated Tuesday night that above all, the Flyers were committed to their young core players to the point of no return. This is Claude Giroux's team, this is where Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds can develop into star players, this is even where Matt Read can continue to build a solid NHL career.
You know, so far.
As such, injuries to Danny Briere (concussion) and Max Talbot (leg fracture), and defensemen Andrej Meszaros (shoulder) and Braydon Coburn (shoulder) have essentially taken them out of the mix for the balance of the season. So what Paul Holmgren is looking at Wednesday is filling holes.
That said, there is one deal that might be on the table today that could loom much larger for the future. The Flyers are probably the frontrunner among teams interested in Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle, an All-Star two years ago who has grown into a Coyotes team leader. He's strong and solid on the blue line, has real scoring savvy and yes, comes with a $5.25 million cap hit for three more years.
He's the kind of guy the Flyers need right now and going forward. He would cost them a top-flight young forward and probably a good prospect or two. He's the kind of player that can change minds on the management level.
Yes, the Flyers' brass is committed to this group of young players.
Yes, the Flyers' brass simply hasn't been able to draft and develop any defensemen since ... well, your guess is as good as mine.
This is a team with a defense in shambles. The Coyotes, who fielded talk about Yandle from the Flyers and Red Wings at last June's draft, aren't of a mind to trade him but have enough defensive depth to be able to afford a Yandle trade for scoring help.
Either now or at the draft, the pitches will be made.
As for bartering ammo, Read will certainly have to be considered, as will some top Flyers prospects.
For now, those prospects are staying put.
The Flyers have what they feel are two top-flight prospects in Sault ste. Marie center Nick Cousins, a third-round pick in 2011 who was among the top-three in the OHL in scoring, and Union College sophomore defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, their third-round pick from 2012. Both are 19 and neither apparently will be called upon to show what they have right now.
Then there is Cousins' linemate from Sault, 21-year-old Brandon Alderson, who developed a scoring knack on wing in this last year of juniors. There are no immediate plans for him to step up, either, even though Sault Ste. Marie's season is over.


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