Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Flyers Fans Should Be Rooting For The Winnipeg Jets

It feels like a daily occurrence when I find a tweet that causes me to think things about the Flyers. Today, this was that tweet:
It's not breaking any news, and it's not even really coming out with any hot takes. Basically, it's compiling all of the reports from various media members about trade rumors for the Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd.

But for Flyers fans, there is an extra bit of depth to those rumors.

Because if Winnipeg decides to put Byfuglien and/or Ladd on the trading block to extract some assets for their rebuild, they immediately become the best available players at their position on the market. If you're a team with cap room and you're looking for a rental for a deep playoff run, you won't find anyone better than the two Jets.

If - and, granted, it's a big if at this point - the Flyers decide to be sellers at the trade deadline, their three best "rentals" for sale are forward Michael Raffl and defensemen Mark Streit and Evgeny Medvedev. Raffl, as I mentioned earlier today, is still a question mark. I've talked about Medvedev specifically in the past if you're interested. And Streit has long been our prized trade chip, either for this February or next year.

Raffl and Medvedev, if they aren't moved or re-signed this year, can walk away after the season for nothing. Obviously, Ron Hextall would like to avoid that and either lock them up long-term or sell them off for picks and prospects. Streit's in the same boat next year, but he's talented enough that someone might be willing to take him on right now.

There is going to be a general manager in the league who is desperate for a puck-moving defenseman. There will probably be more than one. But the value of  Streit/Medvedev decreases immensely if Byfuglien is available, because Big Buff is younger and better than either of the current Flyers.

Ladd is two years older than Raffl, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone outside of a loony bin (or a Delaware County pizza shop) who doesn't think Ladd's the superior player. If he's on the market, Raffl becomes a less desirable target.

So, Flyers fans, we really should be rooting for Winnipeg to get hot and look like they're going to contend for a playoff spot this year. It's not going to be easy, because they're currently in last place in the Central Divison with a seven-point gap to get into second-to-last place. They're currently 9 points out of the second Wild Card spot, which is not an ideal place to be.

But, to end on a positive note, the teams standing in the Jets' way right now are the Canucks, Coyotes, Wild, Predators, and Avalanche. And holy shit, I just realized those five teams essentially are the plot of The Revenant. But two of the six are going to be in the playoffs, and Winnipeg has the talent in their top six and top four to be competitive.

Micah at projects the Jets to have a 10% chance to make the playoffs. The overwhelming favorites for those two Wild Card spots are the Preds and Wild, with the Avs and Yotes projecting slightly higher than the Jets.

It's definitely far from a lock, but if the Jets have a good month and look like they can make noise, that's going to be a very good thing for the front office in Philadelphia.

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