Northampton Press

Friday, May 29, 2020

Trades could impact LV

Thursday, February 20, 2020 by Chuck Hixson Special to the Press in Sports

The NHL trade deadline arrives on Monday. So, what does that have to do with the Phantoms? Possibly a lot.

When you make an addition via trade in sports, there’s a subtraction that goes with it and the subtraction could conceivably come from among the Phantoms roster. Of course, trades in the real sports world aren’t like the trades pulled off in the world of fantasy sports where “owners” just talk to a friend and work out some zillion-player blockbuster trade. In the real world, there are things like salary caps, player contracts and locker room chemistry.

With the added concerns, there are no guarantees that Philadelphia will make any significant moves by the deadline. They’re currently the first wild-card team in the Eastern Conference which makes all of the pundits figure that they have to make a move and the most likely move would be to add a player with the potential to put goals on the board. While the Flyers need some scoring potential, their depth comes on the other side of the puck; defense.

Andy Andreoff has split time between Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley this season and has also spent time in the NHL with the L.A. Kings over four seasons. He’s familiar with trade deadline talk even though he’s never been dealt during his career.

“Everyone gets all nervous and you never know what the brass is doing with the team,” Andreoff said recently. “It’s just part of the job. You have to be prepared that you could be moving or you may just stick where you are. You get used to it, at least in some terms.”

As for defensemen, the Phantoms have Mark Friedman, who had a stint with the Flyers earlier this season and performed well, making him a name that other NHL teams could consider asking for in a trade. Friedman is just 24 and could fit well on a team looking toward next year rather than being able to compete this season. Reece Wilcox isn’t a flashy player, but he is seen as a guy who gets the job done. Unlike Friedman, the 25-year old Wilcox has yet to sniff NHL ice and may not attract a lot of attention.

Forward German Rubtsov was a first-round pick of the Flyers in 2016 and is just 21. Some believe Rubtsov to be somewhat of a poor man’s Morgan Frost, who can play both at center and wing and will pick up points while not being as flashy as Frost, another first-rounder. Center Mikhail Vorobyev is just 22 and experts believe he has all the skills, but just hasn’t found his way in the NHL. Much like Wilcox is to Friedman, Vorobyev is to Rubtsov in that he’s a nice player, but doesn’t come with the hype and isn’t proven at the NHL level.

In less than a week, the whole mystery of what the Flyers and other NHL teams will do at the deadline will be revealed. Until then, it’s speculation, which at times can be the fun part of sports for fans even though it’s not always popular among players.

A PHANTOM PATRICK?... Nolan Patrick, who has been sidelined all season with a migraine disorder, skated with the Flyers in practice on Monday. Coach Alain Vigneault put the brakes on rumors of an imminent return by the 21-year old though, explaining that it’s just a step in the process, telling reporters and fans to not get too excited “until he gets sent to Lehigh Valley, because that means he’s getting close. Lehigh Valley means he’s going down there for conditioning and to get some games in.” As for when Patrick could come to the Lehigh Valley, Vigneault gave a simple “I don’t know.”

STANDINGS UPDATE... Lehigh Valley hasn’t made a lot of progress in their pursuit of a playoff spot. They’re seventh in the eight-team Atlantic Division and are currently 11 points behind Charlotte for the final playoff spot, with two teams to climb over before they can even put the Checkers in their sites. The Phantoms are 4-5-0-1 in their last 10 games.