With the NHL Draft just one week away, now is the beginning of the sport’s silly season.

Even sillier, maybe, because this season still has not ended, thanks to an interminably long Final, courtesy of the travel required to get from Sunrise, Florida to Edmonton, Alberta and back again twice, and perhaps even a third time, if the Oilers win again Friday and force Game 7.

But things have started happening. There were a couple interesting trades involving Calgary and New Jersey, and Los Angeles and Washington, so it awoke the slumber of both hockey insiders and information-starved fans.

One Flyers source texted me Wednesday night, “There’s not enough going on. People are bored.”

That’s usually how rumors get started.

In some instances, those rumors are wildly thrown at a wall and hoping some stick. There is a cottage industry of folks who’ve made a living of doing things this way. It’s frustrating, because it misleads fans and it does no good for the teams, and the people who actually do a good job covering those teams.

In other instances, there are rumors that are planted. Sometimes teams or agents want to get names out there to generate conversation, or to gauge reactions and gather more information. When you think of national insiders – their greatest asset to team executives and agents is that they have information from multiple teams and not just one or two, therefore it’s an information superhighway of currency – teams are willing to trade information with them in order to get info from other teams. It’s why the same guys in sports always break trades, or contracts, or other news – because they’re willing to play a game of ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.’

And then there are those rumors that get out that are incomplete or undercooked but have a real base of truth to them and the teams involved likely didn’t want it to get out too soon.

The best example of that would be what happened with the Flyers and Senators on Wednesday.

That post from Travis Yost, who has worked for TSN in Canada for the past decade, set Flyers and Senators social media ablaze Wednesday. Not your typical insider for TSN, people were excited by this post from Yost (hey, that rhymes) because hours earlier he posted another trade rumor that ended up being accurate, albeit incomplete.


Markstrom was traded to the Devils. Yost didn’t have the full trade – which was Markstrom for Kevin Bahl and a top-10 protected, 2025 first round pick from the Devils with Calgary retaining a little more than 31% of Markstrom’s salary – but he had enough of it to let the public know that he had a good source on that information.

So, when he posted the Flyers-Sens news, while it, too, was lacking details, it likely wasn’t wrong. By adding that it’s something that would happen closer to the draft, he leaves wiggle room for it to not come to fruition, or for the trade to evolve.

But by putting it out in the form he did, it led to rampant speculation from across the interwebs. What could the deal be? What players or assets could be involved? Even our boy Russ got involved in the festivities.

Russ is pretty much wrong on every front, but one, in that post, but we’ll get to details in a minute.

Of course, with speculation running wild, both teams started getting dozens of inquiries. Phones blew up. Inquisitive reporters wanted to know the details. Any information they could glean would add to the original Yost report and they could put it out there to add fuel to the fire.

But the reality is that neither team wanted this to leak, because it’s not a done deal.

Often teams, especially leading up to a draft, will have the frameworks for multiple trades in place, but want to wait and see how certain things play out before they pull the trigger.

In some cases, the same player or the same asset could be being discussed with multiple teams and a GM will want to weigh his options and get the lay of the land around the league before deciding which framework to pursue finalization.

As the myriad calls came in, the two sides contacted each other and agreed to poo-poo this to try and keep the bloodhounds at bay. And so, they did. At every turn.

I spoke to someone in Ottawa who said the Sens were throwing cold water on the rumor. I had someone here in Philly tell me the shooting it down was coordinated on both sides.

But I was also told by someone else that there was something to the conversation between the teams. I was told the Flyers would like to move up in the draft, but only if a certain prospect or two were available.

In order to get there, the source said, the Flyers would have to part with an NHL player and possibly take on a contract that Ottawa wanted to shed.

So, I decided to reach out to an official Flyers source and ask about this trade rumor that Yost put out there.

Here was the text I got back:

“We don’t have anything going on at the moment. The asking price is way too high to move up anywhere in the draft in general.”

Here’s the thing – Yost’s report didn’t mention anything at all about moving up in the draft. Hmmm.

So, is it right to assume that’s what the Flyers are considering doing? Probably. Is it right to assume it will definitely happen? No. Not at all.

In his pre-draft press conference, Flyers GM Danny Briere danced around this entirely.

He said the team could move up. He said the team could move down. He said the team could draft a center. He said they could draft a winger. He didn’t trip up and tip his hand in any direction. A lot of savvy for only being on the job for one year.

He said things have been pretty quiet and that it wasn’t until the media started inquiring about Yost’s rumor that he was busy. Maybe not AS busy, but one thing has been crystal clear about Briere as a GM. He likes to be stealthy in the way he works – much like when he played. Suddenly he’d score a goal and you’d be like, “Where’d he come from?”

Just look at the clandestine nature of bringing in Matvei Michkov for a pre-draft visit at the Flyers Training Center one year ago. Less then a dozen people on the planet knew that was happening.

And here’s another part to this:

That’s smart speculation by Di Marco. It’s what I like to call “informed speculation.” In other words, it’s stuff you hear from people who are connected, but it’s not confirmed by anyone who has the authority to confirm. Or alternately, it’s information you put out there that you know is fact, but maybe agree to not report as fact for a certain period of time. That game is played between reporters and their sources all the time as well.

To support Di Marco’s post, I, too, had been hearing Laughton tied to this rumored deal. But I also have been told that Laughton might be in other pre-draft trade conversations that the Flyers are having, so it’s a matter of if Briere wants to pull the trigger on a Laughton trade, timing it properly to get the best return for the Flyers. Which is likely why he didn’t want this one to get out there too soon, as it could impact conversations with other teams.

I’ve been saying since the trade deadline on Snow The Goalie that Laughton wasn’t moved at the deadline because the Flyers brass felt he deserved a chance to make a run at the playoffs with the team he practically captained for the better part of a year-and-a-half, and that trading him was always going to be more likely in the offseason.

Now, it’s just a matter of finding the best return. If the best return is moving Laughton to Ottawa as part of a first round pick swap that could get the Flyers a player they covet in the draft, then that will be the trade Briere makes. If there’s a better possibility elsewhere, then the deal with Ottawa will be pulled off the table.

Part of the challenge in these types of “framework deals” is the surrounding parameters. The Flyers would want to be confident that the player they want will be available at that pick. Maybe they don’t have enough intel yet to pull the trigger today, but they may by the middle of next week. Or it may have to wait until draft day itself.

(Same here, Tak. Same here. Back to the story…)

There could also be parameters from Ottawa’s end. Maybe they want the Flyers to take a contract off their hands to help them with their cap flexibility. If you remember, last year, when the Flyers expressed interest in Shane Pinto, the conversation would have had them taking back Mathieu Jospeh’s contract, which currently has two years left with an AAV of $2.95 million.

There was some speculation out there that the Flyers could take back a defenseman from Ottawa, say Jakob Chychrun, who has one year left at $4.6 million or Erik Brannstrom, who is an RFA, but from what I’ve been able to glean, it’s more than likely Joseph that would have to come back, and the Flyers don’t mind that, because they don’t mind his game and think he would be a good change of scenery player.

As for who the Flyers might want in the draft, while there is a pressing organizational need at center, the Flyers think there are defensemen in this draft who can be a No. 1 type and they feel like if one they really like is going to be available at No. 7 but probably not at No. 12, then they can make this swap with Ottawa to get that player.

There are six defensemen in this draft who many draft experts believe could go in the top 10. With the Flyers picking at 12, they’d like to get one, so if they can make a trade with Ottawa work, and get one of those guys, especially if it’s their top target, then they would be happy to do so.

One other thought is Briere can do his best Howie Roseman impression and trade up twice.

Could he possibly use Laughton and 12 to get to No. 7 and then possibly use No. 7 and the Florida first rounder to get even higher? If a team would bite, then all bets are off, and it wouldn’t necessarily have to be a defenseman, depending on how high that could get you.

Briere did talk in his press conference in his willingness to take a big ol’ swing for the fences. Doing two trades to get up into the top five in the draft would be such a swing.

Point is, Briere has a lot of irons in the fire. Just because one of those irons leaked out, doesn’t mean that’s the direction he will head or that even if he does, it’ll be the final destination.

Briere said at his press conference that he expects July 1st to be quiet for the Flyers, at the start of free agency. But he didn’t say he expects it to be quiet before the 1st. Knowing that, and from the conversations I’ve had, I’d expect him to set off some loud firecrackers in the next week.