When the Flyers announced that Keith Jones would take over as President of Hockey Operations and Danny Briere was named as a first-time General Manager, there were many who thought it would put the franchise in a precarious position.

How could you turn over a team that had fallen so far out of the sports conscience of its hometown, a team that was so lost at sea, a team so far from being relevant again, to such inexperienced leadership?

It was a fair question, and one that at each step of the way, the duo, with the support of new leadership at Comcast-Spectacor (Dan Hilferty) and, with the joint leadership and determination of a headstrong coach like John Tortorella, has been willing to answer.

  1. Win your first big trade. Check that box with the Ivan Provorov deal.
  2. Make a splash at the draft. Matvei Michkov. Oliver Bonk. Denver Barkey. Carsen Bjarnason. Yegor Zavragin. A couple of more sons of former players. Yep. Did pretty well there too.
  3. Make savvy moves in free agency. Ryan Poehling has been such a big win that he earned a new contract. Garnet Hathaway has brought a toughness to the team that it sorely lacked.
  4. Self-evaluate and lock up players who are going to be part of your core. Owen Tippett got a very nice contract, and one he deserves. They’re working on a new one for Travis Konecny as well. Oh, yeah… Nick Seeler signed a new deal Wednesday. More on that in a minute.
  5. Identify your team leaders. Sean Couturier is now a captain. Konecny and Scott Laughton are alternates. They are the right guys for this team.
  6. Handle your first crisis or two with aplomb. They knew the Carter Hart thing was coming at some point and prepared for it with ensuring goaltending depth. They couldn’t get through to Cutter Gauthier and made the decision to move him and executed his trade clandestinely and got out in front of the messaging on it.
  7. Create a new standard for your team, including setting expectations and creating accountability. Um, a team that many thought would be the worst in the sport are in a playoff spot with 19 games to play.
  8. Have a successful trade deadline. This one is still TBA, but it started strong.

That’s a heck of a first-year track record.

Speaking of the deadline, it’s technically not until 3 p.m. on Friday, but for all intents and purposes, Wednesday was the big day for the Flyers.

The two names that drew the most attention in conversation about what they should do at the deadline were Nick Seeler and Sean Walker. Both defensemen have had career seasons and both are veterans who were pending unrestricted free agents.

The Flyers could try and get assets for both players. Or, because of the season they were having as a team, they could try to hold on to them and make a push with these guys.

The Flyers talked to both of their agents. There were gaps. Seeler wanted more money than the Flyers were offering, Walker wanted more term. Jones, Briere and company had to weigh the options. Were the offers they were getting more valuable than signing these players, or were the players more valuable than the assets they could acquire?

They decided one way with one of them and one way with the other.

Let’s start with Walker, who was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for a conditional 2025 first round pick and center Ryan Johansen, who the Flyers instantly put on waivers.

Johansen was the key to this trade. It allowed the Flyers to get the first rounder that they needed to move Walker. By taking Johansen, the Flyers are on the hook for his prorated salary this season and his full salary that Colorado owed for next season.

Johansen, 31, is all but cooked. A veteran center who had some solid years in Nashville, he was traded to Colorado last season and Nashville retained half of his $8 million cap hit. The Avs thought getting a player of his caliber could be a bargain at $4 million, until it wasn’t. They badly wanted to get out from under that commitment and were willing to elevate the draft pick to a first rounder if the Flyers would take that $4 million commitment off their hands.

The Flyers were and got a first rounder for a guy who was a throw-in in the Provorov trade. That’s a huge plus, as the Flyers now have eight picks in the first two rounds of the next two drafts (they are getting a bonus pick as compensation for not signing failed Ron Hextall-era first rounder Jay O’Brien).

As for Johansen, if he clears waivers, which he likely will, the Flyers can send him to the AHL, or, they can trade him elsewhere before Friday and eat some of the remaining money on his deal for the next two seasons and get another asset in return.

The need to trade Walker came to fruition once Rasmus Ristolainen was injured and put on IR. The Flyers wanted to move him and his contract and were willing to use their remaining retention slot to do so, but once he was injured, that became out of the question at the deadline. He could still be a candidate to be traded in the offseason, but without knowing if he can be moved, the Flyers couldn’t commit to a similar contract with Walker and had to move him.

As for Seeler, there are some who thought signing him to a new deal while trading Walker was a one foot in, one foot out kind of decision.

In fact, it’s not.

First off, negotiations with Seeler’s agent were close, but the Flyers couldn’t see paying him the dollar figure he was asking for, and Seeler couldn’t see signing for a short-term deal that the Flyers wanted.

So both sides gave a little bit.

Seeler took less money in the AAV department, and the Flyers gave Seeler an extra year. All told, it was four years and $10.8 million, for an annual AAV of $2.7 million. The Flyers also gave Seeler a no-trade clause for the first two years, and that’s important to recognize why he was signed and not traded.

If you traded both Walker and Seeler, who would play defense for you next year and the year after that?

  1. Travis Sanheim
  2. Cam York
  3. Jamie Drysdale
  4. ???
  5. ???
  6. ???

Bonk is your top defensive prospect, but he’s still in juniors. He likely needs a season in the AHL before you even think about bringing him into the NHL. Emil Andrae is a likely NHL defenseman, but he’s been a little slower developing. It should be noted that Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning were both recalled before him so he can keep playing bigger minutes in the AHL.

Attard is a maybe, but much like Egor Zamula, the Flyers aren’t sure either are long-term answers for this club.

Beyond that, there isn’t much in the way of defensive prospect depth. So having a veteran among the group is a good thing – especially for the next two seasons, when these prospects aren’t quite ready for prime time.

Aside from that, Seeler brings a toughness to the blue line that the rest of the group lacks. He allows the other defensemen to be more aggressive in their game as far as jumping into the play offensively. He blocks a ton of shots, does anything for the team and is a great character guy. You need those blood and guts types to be successful.

After two more years, if you have a wealth of good, young defensemen, then you can look to move Seeler elsewhere. But for now, he makes sense as a veteran player that you need.

Simply, it was another smart decision by management.

Now, will the Flyers make any more trades? Maybe, but nothing of substance.

Originally there was a thought they could be talking to Ottawa for one of their defensemen, either Jakob Chychrun on Thomas Chabot. I speculated that could happen on Twitter. Long-time, plugged-in Ottawa reporter Bruce Garrioch posted something more specific:

However, I spoke with two Flyers sources who said it’s unlikely that that happens. One said the ask was too high. The other said the Flyers were never really engaged in conversation with them and feel like that rumor came from elsewhere.

I can actually see them moving a middle or late round pick for a depth guy or a backup goalie, or even scour the waiver wire for one, but I think aside from that, all of the big deals are likely done.

And even with that, it’s likely that another test has been passed by this “inexperienced” leadership group.