VOORHEES, N.J. – Up against the salary cap and unable to make a big deal, the Philadelphia Flyers made a pair of minor ones on Wednesday, acquiring forward Daniel Carcillo from the Phoenix Coyotes and defenceman Kyle McLaren from the San Jose Sharks.
The Flyers traded forward Scottie Upshall and a 2011 second-round draft pick to the Coyotes on Wednesday and gave the Sharks a 2009 sixth-round pick just before the NHL’s trading deadline.
“We weren’t really pushing to make any big deals because at the end of the day we like our team,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said.
Holmgren said he had no serious trade discussions about Anaheim defenceman Chris Pronger, refused to part with the prospects needed to pry defenceman Jay Bouwmeester away from Florida and never seriously considered trading goalie Martin Biron.
Biron, who led the Flyers to the Eastern Conference finals last season, is locked in a battle with Antero Niittymaki for the starting job this year.
“That was never really an issue,” Holmgren said. “I like our goaltending. In my opinion, there weren’t better goaltenders out there that were available.”
Biron and Niittymaki are both free agents at the end of the season.
Upshall, acquired two years ago from Nashville near the trade deadline in the Peter Forsberg trade, had seven goals and 21 points in 55 games this season for the Flyers.
He had become a fan favourite with the Flyers, was close with his teammates, and hoped he wouldn’t be traded. Upshall said he was getting a haircut in Philadelphia’s historic district when he got a call from a reporter telling him he was dealt.
“I sat around this morning and thought I wouldn’t want to be anywhere but Philadelphia after today and finish the season here,” Upshall said. “It was tough to take.”
Holmgren said the Flyers are now about US$900,000 under the salary cap, allowing them the flexibility to recall needed players from the AHL without sending others down.
The Flyers had to waive centre Glen Metropolit and defenceman Ossi Vaananen last week to clear cap space when Danny Briere was activated off injured reserve.
The Flyers (34-18-10) are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and will have Carcillo for Thursday’s game against Calgary.
Carcillo is a fighter who leads the NHL with 174 penalty minutes.
“That will make them funner to play against,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said sarcastically.
He also has three goals and 10 points in 54 games and could spell the end of any significant playing time for Flyers enforcer Riley Cote. Carcillo, who said he grew up a diehard Flyers fan, has worked on calming down and keeping his temper in check while still playing with a physical edge.
“I think I’ve come a long way since my first year,” he said. “I was kind of reckless and wanted to get my name out there and see what I could do. I feel like I’ve been a lot more disciplined this year.”
Holmgren said Carcillo sometimes gets “a little overexhuberant” but would fit in fine with the Flyers.
McLaren, who spent the season with Worcester of the AHL, has 46 career goals and 207 points in 719 NHL games. He will be assigned to the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms and could play for the Flyers in the post-season.