I first looked at some young players the Philadelphia Flyers could be interested in and ask for in a trade with the New York Rangers. So now, we will look at another team that is expected to be big spenders at the trade deadline and can have their needs met by the Flyers.
Again, the Flyers aren’t going to be asking for draft picks, but more-so players or prospects that can help their team sooner rather than later. The Bruins are in win-now mode and even though they don’t have as good of a prospect pool as the Rangers, they have young players that they should be willing to give up to get something they need. Especially with an aging team, they can worry about retooling or rebuilding once players like Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron join Tuukka Rask in retirement or move on.
Here are some of the most likely and suitable options the Flyers could ask for in return if the teams do business with one another before the trade deadline.
Not the youngest player, but still at the point where he may not have reached his full potential just yet. Jake DeBrusk is the first man on the list and someone who has asked for a trade. The Bruins are obviously not in any rush to move him but are definitely looking around to find the right deal.
DeBrusk had a very impressive start to his career, topping 40 points in consecutive seasons out of the gate and scoring 27 goals in his sophomore season. He was scoring at a 0.61 points-per-game pace and has gone downhill since. He can score and be a solid middle-six winger, but it looks like he will need a change in scenery to get back to the player he was at the beginning of his career.
DeBrusk’s role has been significantly reduced and is playing with inexperienced or declining veterans. He is not afraid to hit and plays a style of hockey that would be well-suited for the Flyers if they want to get back to being a tough team to play against. The Flyers would have team control and negotiating rights with him since he is a restricted free agent (RFA) after this season. Ideally, he would be able to take over James van Riemsdyk’s spot in the middle-six and be effective on the power play as well for a much cheaper price with a higher ceiling.
Urho Vaakanainen/Jakub Zboril
The Bruins have a couple of young defence options that they could be willing to move seeing as five of their defence are locked up for at least two more seasons after this one at $3 million AAV (average annual value) or higher. They have had four young defenders compete for playing time this season as well as a couple of older players.
Connor Clifton, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, and Jack Ahcan are all 23-26 years old, which is about the time when defencemen typically start coming into their own. There isn’t room enough for all of them, even if they are expected to be ready by next season or the season after. Two of them will most likely be dealt if the Bruins stay competitive for the next couple of seasons, while some of them may have to be used as a trade chip at the trade deadline.
Speaking of the deadline, the Bruins are more than likely going to upgrade their final spot on the back end, meaning there will be even less room and time for the young players to get in reps at the NHL level. All of them are or are very close to being NHL-ready, and with the Flyers possibly losing a number of defencemen to free agency in the offseason, they will want to bring in some more talent.
Both Vaakanainen and Zboril are different players. Vaakanainen is more reliable defensively while Zboril has offensive potential, either of which the Flyers could use in their current system.
Zboril has a very solid Corsi and Fenwick which means that the Bruins controlled the puck and had more shot attempts while he was on the ice. A 50 percent in either is average and he has registered a 58.6 Corsi For percentage (CF%) and 60 Fenwick For percentage (FF%). Despite playing over three fewer minutes per game than Vaakanainen, Zboril has been very effective in a bottom-pairing role, outplaying anyone he is matched up against. Unfortunately, his season is over after successful surgery for a torn ACL, but it still wouldn’t be a bad move to acquire him for the reset in 2022-23.
Vaakanainen starts in the defensive zone 51.7 percent of the time and plays just shy of 20 minutes per game. He has already been trusted with bigger minutes and has also spent time on the penalty kill as an option the Bruins have turned to.
Oskar Steen was very effective in his role as a bottom-six forward for the Bruins in the 19 games he spent with the team this season. Unfortunately, they have a lot of depth forwards that have some more experience that they have chosen to run with right now with a healthier lineup. He may be a late-bloomer, but he will be a solid option for any team’s bottom-six with potential for more (“Who is Oskar Steen, and why should Bruins fans be excited?”, The Eagle Tribune, Jan. 8, 2022).
Playing under 11 minutes a night, Steen was able to score his first two goals of his career and put up six points while being physical and aggressive despite his size. The Flyers could add someone with his drive to their group, as he will have a better chance to compete with the other younger up-and-coming talent they already have at forward.
With the Flyers seemingly out of the playoff race this season and the Bruins firmly in a spot, these two could find themselves as trading partners as they both have players the other could use this season and next.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with the NHL Stat Corner and trade talks from around the NHL.
You can find more of his work here.