TAMPA – Here we are, just nine days from the NHL trade deadline, and no one is quite sure what the Flyers are about to do to improve their roster.
They entered Saturday as the first wild card in the Eastern Conference so it’s a good bet they’re going to be looking to add some assets.
An additional scorer continues to be the center point of speculation.
If it were as easy as general manager Chuck Fletcher picking up the telephone and cutting a deal with a non-contender, predicting a swap would be fairly easy.
But there’s the matter of the salary cap (the Flyers don’t have a lot of spare cash) and there’s also the caveat that the Flyers might not want to give up one of their young defensemen (Robert Hagg?) in the transaction.
Should the Flyers be of a mind to acquire a young scorer, there’s one candidate who might be a natural candidate.
We’re talking about Toronto winger Kasperi Kapanen, son of former Flyers great Sami Kapanen.
Kapanen, 23, has two years left on a contract that pays him $3.2 million per year.
He put a solid 20-goal, 44-point season together last year and is following that up with an 11-goal, 32-point campaign through 57 games this year.
The former Pittsburgh Penguin first-round draft pick would be a nice fit on a second or third line in Philadelphia.
One of the reasons Kapanen doesn’t get more publicity in Toronto is because the Leaf roster is loaded with stars, namely Auston Mathews, Mitchell Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander.
We’re not saying the Flyers are targeting Kapanen but they could be going after a player of that caliber. He’s a plus-14 over the past two seasons and that would fit into coach Alain Vigneault’s emphasis on two-way hockey.
Plus, his dad was a bit of legend here in Philadelphia. Remember the famous overtime Game 6 of the conference semifinals in 2004 when Kapanen got crushed by Toronto’s Darcy Tucker and literally had to crawl on hands and knees to the bench to avoid taking an injury timeout?
About 40 seconds later, Jeremy Roenick scored a sudden-death goal to end the series in the Flyers’ favor.
Maybe some of that DNA is in Kasperi’s genes. Might be worth a look.
>Gostisbehere knee issue troubling
Shayne Gostisbehere is scheduled to have his ailing left knee re-examined back in Philadelphia on Sunday/Monday and the Flyers are hoping doctors can figure out why he’s still experiencing pain.
The Flyers called up Mark Friedman from the Phantoms on Saturday just to make sure they had enough depth at that position. Travis Sanheim is still a little iffy after a collision with Florida’s Aleksander Barkov on Thursday, resulting in a lower-body injury.
For about a week, the Flyers have been claiming the “Ghost’’ problem is simply scar tissue from the surgery breaking loose. But if it’s more serious than that, it just about kills any chance the Flyers had of possibly including him in a trade for a high-end forward a week from Tuesday.
The firing of Minnesota’s Bruce Boudreau on Friday marked the eighth NHL coach to get the ax this season.
This marks the fifth time in NHL history there have been eight coaches canned in one campaign.
The fact that there has never been nine changes in one season tells you we’re close to record-breaking country and points out that teams no longer show patience when their team isn’t faring well.
>Couturier for Selke
A few years back, Flyers center Sean Couturier was a finalist for the Selke Trophy (NHL’s best defensive forward) but came up a bit short.
This season, there’s been a lot of buzz about Couturier returning to the Selke top three and possibly winning it.
Couturier’s numbers certainly justify such speculation. He’s a plus-20, often working against other teams’ best centers. He’s also second in the NHL in faceoff percentage.
The only two Flyers ever to win the award are Bobby Clarke in 1982-83 and Dave Poulin in 1986-87.