Flyers making case for keeping team together at trade deadline

Sean Couturier

VOORHEES – Interesting how the timing of this Flyers’ eight-game winning streak comes just a few weeks before the NHL trade deadline.

Just 10 days ago, general manager Chuck Fletcher told media he wasn’t sure if he was going to be a seller or buyer at the Feb. 25 transaction cutoff date.

Then the Flyers went on their current tear. Now people are wondering if Fletcher might be leaning toward keeping this outfit together.

After all, they’re above .500 and they had narrowed a 14-point deficit to five after Monday night’s 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

One player who certainly isn’t going anywhere is Claude Giroux, so he’s able to give a pretty much impartial view on the whole situation.

“I feel like everything is going the right way right now,’’ Giroux said after Wednesday’s practice at the Skate Zone. “Now we can’t take it for granted. We can’t have a game where we’re not at our best.

“We’re going to have to grind it out. The (trade) talk is a better question for him (Fletcher). For us players, we can’t be focusing on that right now. First, it’s out of our control. We just need to worry about the game tomorrow (vs. Los Angeles).’’

Sean Couturier also is virtually an untouchable. He’s been a big part of this winning streak.

“It (trade talk) is not something we really think about,’’ Couturier said. “It’s out of our hands, whatever he (Fletcher) decides to do.

“But at the end of the day, whatever he does is probably best for the team. No matter what happens (on Feb. 25) we’re going to just keep fighting.’’

Jake Voracek tries to keep his mind on the business at hand.

“It’s been such a rollercoaster season,’’ he said. “To be buyers, sellers, there’s nothing I can do about it. We’ve won eight in a row but we still have a long way to go.’’


>Lehtera put on waivers


Veteran forward Jori Lehtera was put on waivers on Wednesday and if he does clear them, there’s a decent chance he will be sent to the Phantoms.

Since arriving in the Brayden Schenn trade back in June of 2017, Lehtera has not been an impact player. Plus, this season has been clouded by a drug case which took place at his house back in Finland last summer.

In 27 games this season, he has just one goal, three points with a minus-7.

Like Dale Weise, who was put on waivers and sent to the Phantoms a couple weeks ago, Lehtera is making a good chunk of money. He’s taking home $4.7 million on the final year of an expiring contract.

As to where Lehtera winds up, that’s a good question.

“All I know is he’s been put on waivers,’’ coach Scott Gordon said. “As far as after that, I didn’t have any discussions with Chuck about it. He says he was going to do it. Whether he goes down, I don’t know.’’


>Knight’s return getting close


Center Corban Knight has missed virtually the entire season (42 games) with a dislocated collarbone but on Wednesday he was cleared for contact and allowed to take part in all practice drills.

The question is whether the Flyers will keep him here or move him back to the Phantoms. There’s a chance he might go to Allentown for some conditioning starts but with Lehtera being waived, that could open up a spot.

“Probably need some more time to get back to contact and everything,’’ said Knight when asked if he’s ready to play. The great thing about upper-body injuries is that you’re able to skate, so I’ve been able to skate for the last couple months.

“So I feel good out there. My legs, my lungs are there. So I’m pretty close to game shape right now.’’

Like Lehtera, Gordon isn’t quite sure what Knight’s status is, leading into the Feb. 25 trade deadline (such as an opening appearing on the Flyers’ roster).

“I think the plan here is to get him some practices with contact,’’ Gordon said.


>Short shots


Goalie Brian Elliott was also cleared for contact on Wednesday, which means he will be practicing with the Flyers. As to when he might be able to play, Gordon didn’t sound like he wanted to speculate. . .Defenseman Robert Hagg was given the day off for maintenance. . .Anthony Stolarz will start in goal for the Flyers when they play host to the Kings. The Kings will be playing their fourth game in six nights. On their current eastern swing, they have beaten the Rangers and Devils and lost to the Islanders. “They (the Kings) are six points out of a playoff spot so I’m sure they haven’t taken their foot off the gas pedal,’’ Gordon said.

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About Wayne Fish 2437 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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