By Mary Cunningham

The Flyers’ recent fine play has vaulted them back into contention for a playoff spot — they have 46 points, and are just one behind the Pens for the last spot in the East.

And now the brain trust of Ron Hextall and Paul Holmgren have to figure how to improve the team for the second half.

Wayne Simmonds is being mentioned as trade bait.

The 29-year-old winger has this season and next remaining on his six-year, $23.85 million contract, which means he’ll be eligible to sign an extension as early as July.

He’s a relative bargain in today’s NHL with a cap hit of just under $4 million, and he could certainly be in line for a noticeable raise from his 2017-18 salary of $4.75 million and the $5 million he’ll earn next year.

You might recall Simmonds having won MVP honors at last season’s All-Star game.

Should it ever reach the point where the Flyers do feel they need to move Simmonds, the veteran winger does have a modified no-trade clause that includes this season and next year, through which he can submit a 12-team no-trade list.