Flyers could strike trade for blossoming Senators star

In Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek’s latest episode of their 32 Thoughts podcast, Friedman floated the Philadelphia Flyers as a potential trade fit for Ottawa Senators center Shane Pinto. In the episode, Friedman claims that the Senators have said that if a team wanted Pinto, they’d have to take on salary to do so.

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The Flyers are still uniquely positioned to take on cap space, if that’s a route they want to take. The team currently has under $1 million in cap space, but that’s before factoring in Ryan Ellis being on LTIR. When Ellis is placed on LTIR, the Flyers should have roughly $7.1 million in their piggy bank.

As for Pinto and the Senators, they have less than $900k in cap space with only 20 players on their roster. Pinto, 22, is currently a 10.2 (c) RFA, meaning he’s ineligible to be subjected to offer sheets because he has not played enough professional seasons to qualify for Group 2 restricted free agency.

The 6-foot-3 center scored 20 goals and 15 assists for the Sens last season while playing in all 82 games. If acquired by the Flyers, Philly would immediately have their second-line center and allow for Morgan Frost to continue on the third line.

In order to clear cap space, though, the Senators realistically only have a few options. We can very easily assume that Tim Stutzle, Brady Tkachuk, Claude Giroux, Vladimir Tarasenko, Drake Batherson, Thomas Chabot, and Jakob Chychrun are off the table. Dominik Kubalik was recently acquired in the Alex DeBrincat trade, and Ottawa just extended Artem Zub on Dec. 21. Realistically, this leaves winger Mathieu Joseph and defenseman Erik Brannstrom as the Sens’ two trade candidates in this scenario.

Joseph is slated to make $2.95 million through 2026, while Brannstrom has a cap hit of $2 million for this season only. The Flyers have logjams at both positions, as the organization tries to push their younger players down the waterslide and into the pool that is the NHL.

It’s unlikely they want more competition for players like Tyson Foerster and Bobby Brink, although it’s possible Joseph would take the place of a Scott Laughton or a Frost, for example. Joseph has nearly 300 NHL games of experience, but his career-high of 26 points came in his rookie season five years ago.

Brannstrom would be pigeonholed into the third pairing behind Cam York and Travis Sanheim, but has a higher ceiling and more NHL experience than other left-handed Flyers defense prospects like Emil Andrae and Adam Ginning. The Swede is still just 24 years old and would be a logical add if the Senators are willing toss him in with Tyler Kleven waiting in the wings. In 74 games last season, Brannstrom had two goals and 18 points.

The Flyers don’t have much themselves in terms of players with a lesser salary than both Joseph and Brannstrom. Laughton would be a fantastic add and is better than Joseph, but he has a cap hit of $3 million. The newly-signed Frost could be an option too, but that’s unlikely. The Flyers might be reluctant to trade an NHL-ready prospect, but it’s hard to argue against trading for a big 22-year-old center that scored 20 goals in his first full season in the show.

Friedman also wondered about the Boston Bruins as a trade destination, but they’re cap-strapped just as badly as the Sens, if not worse. Anything the Bruins can offer for Pinto, the Flyers can too. And for Philly, this is the kind of high-upside move the fans want and the team needs.

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