The Biggest Missed Opportunities in Philadelphia Flyers' 2014 Offseason
Overall, it's been a relatively uneventful offseason so far for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Scott Hartnell was shipped to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for former Flyer R.J. Umberger, while backup goaltender Ray Emery and depth defenseman Nick Schultz were signed through free agency.
But that's been it for cap-strapped Philadelphia.
That isn't to say, however, that it's been a quiet offseason for the Orange and Black. The Flyers have been linked to several juicy trade rumors and were even in play for the first overall selection in the 2014 NHL entry draft.
But those rumors were nothing more than that, and as a result, Philadelphia's roster for the upcoming 2014-15 season looks awfully similar to last year's group.
Here's a look at the biggest missed opportunities in the Flyers' 2014 offseason so far.
Not Trading Vincent Lecavalier to the Nashville Predators
Nashville entered the offseason in desperate need of depth down the middle. That, coupled with the fact that the Predators needed to add salary in order to reach the cap floor and are guided by former Flyers bench boss Peter Laviolette, made Nashville a logical trade partner for Philadelphia and Vincent Lecavalier.
A predraft exchange seemed nearly impossible with the 34-year-old Lecavalier due a $2 million bonus on July 1, but the Flyers haven't been able to swing a transaction even after ponying up his bonus.
Instead, Nashville inked 35-year-old pivot Olli Jokinen to a far more manageable one-year, $2.5 million pact on July 2.
Then the already-thin center corps for the Predators took another blow when it was announced that 14-year NHL veteran Mike Fisher would be sidelined four to six months after surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Still, the Flyers couldn't find a way to move Lecavalier and the remaining four years and $16.5 million of his current contract to Nashville. Instead, the Predators signed a pair of veteran centers in Derek Roy and Mike Ribeiro to short-term, low-money deals less than a week after the Fisher news.
Clearly, the length and dollars remaining on Lecavalier's current deal have been the primary snag in these negotiations, but it's a shame that an exchange with such a seemingly perfect trade partner hasn't be reached.
Not Trading Vincent Lecavalier to the Ottawa Senators
Nashville hasn't been the only speculated landing spot for Lecavalier.
Again, those whispers surfaced after Philadelphia had paid the $2 million bonus due the four-time All-Star, but still, the length and dollars remaining on Lecavalier's current deal appeared to severely inhibit general manager Bryan Murray and GM Ron Hextall's ability to reach an equitable exchange.
As it turns out, the Senators were interested in Lecavalier but only if the Flyers were willing to pick up a decent portion of his remaining contract and include something else in return, presumably another player currently on Philadelphia's roster.
According to Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly, Philadelphia was willing to take on only $1 million per year of Lecavalier's contract and certainly wasn't prepared to lose another rostered player as well in the process.
As such, talks stalled, and Ottawa elected to sign free-agent forward David Legwand to a two-year, $6 million agreement instead.
Not Trading for the 1st Overall Pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft
For the first time in the team's 47-year history, the Flyers hosted the NHL entry draft this past June and nearly made one of the biggest splashes in draft history by trading up for the first overall selection.
Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon made it clear he would entertain offers for the first selection, while the Flyers, in desperate need of a No. 1 franchise defender, were assumed to want the presumed No. 1 pick in Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad.
In the end, Florida kept the first overall pick and used it to nab Ekblad but not before some serious efforts from Philadelphia to move up.
According to Tallon (via Randy Miller of NJ.com), the two sides "were close," while the Panthers GM described the Flyers as "willing" and the trade offer "enticing."
The Sun Sentinel reported (via Miller) that Philadelphia offered Brayden Schenn and Lecavalier, while Florida was interested in Wayne Simmonds. Earlier reports from the Miami Herald (via Miller) indicated that Simmonds, Lecavalier and both Schenns—Brayden and defenseman Luke—were all in play.
It would have been awfully difficult for the Flyers to part with blossoming 25-year-old power forward Simmonds, along with several other key pieces, but Ekblad is the kind of defender who should be patrolling NHL blue lines for the next decade.
And so Philadelphia's search for a franchise blueliner continues.