By Tom Dougherty (@todougherty)
The Flyers have been scoring goals at a rapid pace recently. Scoring 17 goals in their last four games, adding a scorer doesn’t appear as big of a need as it did earlier in the season.
However, adding a scoring winger still sits atop the Flyers’ needs. While Claude Giroux is back to the point-per-game player Philly’s been accustomed to, and Jakub Voracek’s playing like he was last season, Michael Raffl is the third-leg on the Flyers’ top line.
And he’s been a pleasant surprise of late, but no one expected him to be a top-six forward when the Flyers signed the Austrian in the offseason. No one should expect him to be one for the long term, either. He could be another Andreas Nodl.
So how can the Flyers go about adding that top-line winger?
According to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, the Flyers and Islanders are “taking serious runs” at Montreal Canadiens left winger Max Pacioretty, although Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin likely wouldn’t want to move him to an Eastern Conference team.
Trading Pacioretty doesn’t make much sense for the Canadiens, as he’s the team’s leading scorer with 15 goals — he’s missed nine games this year. And the Habs (22-13-3) have 47 points, fourth in the East.
But Brooks says head coach Michel Therrien isn’t fond of the 25-year-old winger.
Pacioretty has a cap-friendly contract — six years, $27 million, with a $4.5 million cap hit through 2018-19. He’s young and has led the Habs in scoring the last two seasons, scoring 33 goals in 2011-12 and 15 last year.
If Pacioretty’s name has popped up in trade talks, there’s not a team in the league that won’t give Bergevin a call, which means the price to acquire Pacioretty won’t be cheap.
Montreal has no real motive to move him, except for the head coach not seeing him as an ideal fit for his system. For a team that seems like a shoe-in for a fourth or fifth seed in a mediocre Eastern Conference, moving its top goal scorer would need a large return.
The Canadiens would need at least one top-six NHL forward, a prospect and a first-round draft choice. Do the Flyers have that, and would they be willing to part with such a package?
Let’s say the Flyers and Canadiens are talking. The report mentioned no names, and these following scenarios have no inside scoop whatsoever: