Flyers GM Daniel Briere: ‘Everything’s on the table’ ahead of NHL trade deadline

WASHINGTON — The chances the Philadelphia Flyers will be able to pluck another first-round pick for their current stockpile decreased earlier this week when highly sought-after Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev was dealt to the Dallas Stars for second- and third-round draft picks and a midlevel prospect.

But that doesn’t mean the asking price has gone down on someone like Sean Walker, now probably the best right-handed defenseman still on the market. That means, according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, that the Flyers are still seeking a first-round pick in exchange for the 29-year-old pending unrestricted free agent.

Speaking at the first intermission of the Flyers-Washington Capitals game Friday at Capital One Arena, Flyers general manager Daniel Briere wasn’t asked about Walker or fellow pending free agent Nick Seeler specifically regarding the Tanev trade but was surely referring to them when he said: “It doesn’t change our asking price. Yeah, (the Tanev trade) was maybe a little lighter than expected, but it doesn’t change our approach. If teams are not willing to meet our price, and what we feel is fair, we’re a playoff team. We get to keep them and we get to make a run. That’s the way I see it.”

The Flyers, who lost 5-2 to the Capitals, remain in third place in the Metropolitan Division with a 31-23-7 record. They are 2-4-1 in their last seven games.

As Briere and Flyers president of hockey operations Keith Jones have repeatedly said, the Flyers don’t have to trade Walker, Seeler or anyone else before the 3 p.m. trade deadline March 8. That’s been the consistent message ever since the Flyers have shown to be a better team this season than anyone expected.

If the asking prices for certain players aren’t met, they’ll run with the current group and try to get into the playoffs for the first time since 2020. Further, there have been discussions about potential contract extensions for Walker and Seeler.

“What I can tell you is there’s been a lot of discussions. There’s a lot going on,” Briere said. “You’ve seen what’s happened in the market. There’s obviously a lot of defensemen that are gone now, so we’re getting a lot of calls on our guys. We’re also trying to figure out with their representatives what it would cost to keep them.”

And how have those discussions gone?

“The talks are good. … We have a better sense today of where they’re looking to be. We’re also evaluating on the other side the returns that are possible and trying to, after that, put it all together and decide what’s best once we know the interest from other teams. So, there’s all kinds of things to consider. But we’re trying to get it all together.”

Part of what Briere has to balance is being fair to the current group that has put itself in a position to qualify for the postseason.

“If it makes sense to re-sign them and it’s a number that’s fair, we have to consider it, too, because these guys have really stepped up their play,” Briere said. “They’ve been good this year. You’ve got to give them credit the way they’ve played together. The chemistry they’ve developed together is something to consider, as well.”

“It’s a good problem to have because if the team doesn’t play the way they have, we’re not getting the attention from other teams about our players. So I’m not going to complain about that.”

The possibility exists, too, that the Flyers are buyers and sellers. They won’t be in the market for rentals that would cost them prospects or high-round draft picks, but Briere didn’t rule out a hockey trade for a player or players who could fit for now and the future.

“Everything’s on the table,” he said. “We’re not going to do a rental for high-end assets. We’re protecting those. We realize where we’re at. It’s not just about this year. It’s about protecting the future, as well. If it’s a hockey trade, that’s a possibility. If we feel it makes us better, yeah, there’s a possibility where we trade and we may also get some return where maybe the cost is not as high as the return on the trade. We’re trying to evaluate all of that.”

In the meantime, Briere is pleased the Flyers are still playing important games into March.

“The experience that our young guys are going to acquire from being in this position coming down the stretch — we were hoping that we’d be in a position where we’d play meaningful games after the deadline. Now, we’re (in the top eight) in our conference, inside that bubble for the playoffs. And that, too, is something different.

“When you’re chasing teams and being chased, it’s a different approach, so it’s super exciting on our side that … we’re in a playoff position and we have to consider that, too, when it comes to trades. With our guys having the chance to make the playoffs and acquire the experience, that’s something else to consider, and all the experience that we could acquire moving forward.”

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Nick Seeler is a pending free agent. There have been discussions about potential contract extensions for him and for Sean Walker. (John McCreary / NHLI via Getty Images)

The Flyers remain down some key players due to injury, including leading scorer Travis Konecny and defensemen Jaime Drysdale and Rasmus Ristolainen.

Konecny, who missed his fourth straight game Friday, is expected to miss Saturday’s home game with the Ottawa Senators, as well. There is an “outside chance” he plays against the St. Louis Blues on Monday, per Briere, but “more realistically” it will be Thursday in Florida. Konecny appeared to pull something in his midsection during a Flyers off-day practice Feb. 23.

The timelines are much hazier for defensemen Drysdale and Ristolainen.

Drysdale, who took a heavy hit to his left shoulder area Sunday from the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Jansen Harkins, is getting some tests done and “getting strength back,” per Briere. Drysdale will be re-evaluated in two weeks, “but it’s too early to tell if (he’s going to be out) way longer, or if there’s a chance in a few weeks he might play.” Briere wouldn’t say whether Drysdale’s injury is related to the 21-year-old’s tearing a labrum in his left shoulder in late 2022.

Ristolainen, who hasn’t played since Feb. 10, is in a similar situation and will be re-evaluated later this month.

“There’s still a chance that both these guys can come back, but there’s also a chance that they might not,” Briere said.

Defenseman Ronnie Attard was recalled from AHL Lehigh Valley on Thursday but was a healthy scratch against the Capitals.

(Top photo of Joel Farabee and Aliaksei Protas: Patrick Smith / Getty Images)

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