Philadelphia Freedom? Who Could The Boston Bruins Pursue In A Trade With The Flyers?

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By: Dan Anderson| Follow me on Twitter @DanAnderson5970

Historically the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers have had similar teams. Hard-nosed, physical, and aggressive, both franchises have fielded hockey clubs that match their east coast cities’ attitude. The Bruins and Flyers met in the 1974 Stanley Cup finals, which Philadelphia, led by ex-Bruin Bernie Parent, won four games to two. The Flyers became the first post-1967-68 expansion team to win the Stanley Cup and the first nonoriginal six team to do so since the 1935 Montreal Maroons.

What does this history have to do with today? It’s not a critical point but is indicative of what Bruins and Flyers fans have in common. What is significant to look at today is what assets the Flyers have that the Bruins could use to improve their team. As Max Mainville mentioned in his article on October 3rd, Shayne Gostisbehere could make a great addition to the Bruins to help replace Torey Krug’s offense. After playing in only five of sixteen playoff games in 2020, the player nicknamed “Ghost,” might be available via trade.

The Flyers have several forwards the Bruins might be interested in but carry $7 million or more per year in salary, including Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Kevin Hayes, and James van Riemsdyk. I don’t see an easy route to adding secondary scoring in a transaction between the Bruins and Flyers. Both clubs are close to maximizing the salary cap. The Flyers have less flexibility, but with only restricted free agent right defenseman Philippe Myers left to sign.  For Boston, only Jake DeBrusk remains for restricted free agents.     

Gostisbehere is already a target to man the Bruins’ blue line from the left side. As left defense has become an issue with the aging Zdeno Chara currently a free agent, and Torey Krug signed with the St. Louis Blues, might there be other options? The recent signing of Eric Gustafsson, combined with the surprise retirement of Matt Niskanen, changes the dynamic on the Flyers defense corps. The Flyers have five players on their NHL roster who could play left defense. However, unless they expect a player to jump from AHL level or junior level to play right defense, Gustafsson becomes the de facto replacement for Niskanen on the right side. Ivan Provorov would look great in black and gold, but he’s not a legitimate target as he’s the Flyers’ best defenseman at twenty-three years old and making $6.75 million per season.

What would it take to acquire Gostisbehere? The Bruins’ issue in making this trade happen is not Gostisbehere’s age at twenty-seven years old; it’s his contract. He is due $4.5 million per season through 2022-23. With Jake DeBrusk absorbing a good portion of the remaining cap space for this season and leaving room to potentially sign Zdeno Chara to play third pairing and penalty kill minutes, other salaries would have to move.  The Flyers have plenty of left wings, which makes me doubt that they would take Nick Ritchie in trade.

John Moore is a possibility, but his $2.75 million contract runs for another three seasons; how can the Bruins make up the $1.75 million gap? Unfortunately, until the Bruins can free up cap space to take Gostisbehere’s contract, I can’t see this trade taking place. It’s an excellent example of what looks like a great trade on paper that cannot work due to the business side of professional hockey.  It would appear that Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon, and potentially Zdeno Chara will open the 2020-21 NHL season as the Bruins defense’s left side.

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