Matt Read (Getty Images)
The Philadelphia Flyers have nearly had their playoff hopes entirely dashed by midseason, and it may force GM Ron Hextall to shake up the roster before he had anticipated. In Toronto, Joffrey Lupul’s injury troubles are hurting the Maple Leafs’ ability to deal the winger.
As the Philadelphia Flyers approach the mid-season point of their schedule they find themselves in danger of falling completely out of playoff contention. Heading into the Jan. 8 match-up with the Washington Capitals, the Flyers were nine points out of the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi reports Flyers GM Ron Hextall isn't ready yet to overhaul his roster. If the club continues on its current downward spiral, however, Carchidi believes it's only a matter of time before Hextall makes some changes.
To improve the Flyers' draft lottery chances, Carchidi recommends Hextall trade a handful of veterans for draft picks at the trade deadline, as well as promote some of their youngsters from their farm team. He notes the recent improved play of forwards Vincent Lecavalier and R.J. Umberger could bolster their trade value, while defenseman Braydon Coburn's performance could be bolstered with the right defense partner on another team. Of the trio, Carchidi believes Coburn is the easiest to move as he only has one year remaining on his contract.
Hextall could also consider moving out one or two of his younger players who have yet to fully prove themselves as stars worth building around. A report in the Philadelphia Daily News suggests forwards Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Matt Read could fall into that category. The trio's inconsistency this season contributed to the Flyers' decline.
Despite the improvements of Lecavalier and Umberger, their contracts stretch beyond next season. Given the uncertainty over the salary cap ceiling for 2015-16, they probably won't be moved unless Hextall is willing to pick up part of their salaries. Coburn, Schenn, Couturier and Read will certainly attract more interest, but it remains to be seen if Hextall has lost patience with any of them yet.
LUPUL’S HEALTH HURTS TRADE VALUE FOR LEAFS
Prior to the recent speculation over possible moves by the Toronto Maple Leafs following their coaching change, winger Joffrey Lupul resurfaced in the rumor mill. Lupul, 31, was linked to the Montreal Canadiens last summer for Josh Gorges but the deal was nixed by Gorges, who was eventually traded to Buffalo.
Lupul is currently sidelined with a lower-body injury. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch recently reported the Leafs were apparently gauging the winger's trade value before he got hurt. Because of Lupul's contract ($5.25 million annually through 2017-18), Garrioch doubts he'll be moved until he proves he can stay healthy.
That could be asking too much of Lupul, who last played more than 69 games in a season in 2008-09 with the Philadelphia Flyers. His lengthy injury history could make it difficult for the Leafs to find any takers. Rival clubs could press them to absorb part of his salary to facilitate a trade.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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