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The Flyers' thinning blueline

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The Philadelphia Flyers’ need to bolster their blueline depth became more urgent following news on Tuesday that defenseman Andrej Meszaros underwent surgery to repair a torn right Achilles tendon.

Meszaros, 26, was injured last week training in Slovakia and is sidelined indefinitely.

According to Sarah Baicker of, recovery time from this type of injury is usually six to eight months, meaning Meszaros could miss the entire 2012-13 season.

It’s a devastating blow for a Flyers defense already weakened by the loss of Chris Pronger to a career-threatening concussion and Matt Carle to Tampa Bay via unrestricted free agency.

The Flyers currently have more than $66.6 million invested in 23 players and still have to re-sign restricted free agent blueliner Marc-Andre Bourdon. With Meszaros out long-term and Pronger likely to start the season on long-term injury reserve, GM Paul Holmgren would have more than $8.9 million in additional cap relief.

Baicker believes Meszaros’ injury puts pressure on Holmgren to add another defenseman before the start of the season.

She noted the limited options via unrestricted free agency (suggesting former Blues D-man Carlo Colaiacovo as one UFA who might make sense for the Flyers), but suggested it’s “more and more likely” Holmgren will be forced to make a trade.

Sam Carchidi of shared Baicker’s opinion of Colaiacovo as a free agent option and noted P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens was the best available restricted free agent.

Carchidi noted Subban reportedly said he won’t sign an offer sheet, but pointed out his contract talks with the Canadiens have stalled. He suggested John Carlson of the Washington Capitals as another “intriguing” RFA option.

Holmgren would have better luck signing Colaiacovo or any of the remaining blueliners in the UFA market (which includes Michal Rozsival, Brett Clark, Matt Gilroy, Jaroslav Spacek, Cam Barker, Chris Campoli and former Flyer Pavel Kubina) than prying Subban or Carlson from their respective teams.

An offer sheet for those two (or Michael Del Zotto of the New York Rangers) would be easily matched.

The Flyers could try to trade for them, but it’s highly unlikely the Habs, Capitals or Rangers would be interested.

Even if those clubs were willing to entertain that notion, they’d almost certainly want at least one of the Flyers good young forwards (Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn or Wayne Simmonds) in return.

In terms of trade options, Jay Bouwmeester of the Calgary Flames was at one point this summer expected to become trade bait, but Flames GM Jay Feaster appears reluctant to shake up his roster.

Rumor bloggers persist in claiming Keith Yandle of the Phoenix Coyotes could be had, but Coyotes GM Don Maloney stated weeks ago he was keeping Yandle.

Earlier this summer, there was some talk in the Ottawa media suggesting the Senators should shop Sergei Gonchar - who has one season left on his contract at a cap hit of $5.5 million - for another scoring forward.

Senators GM Bryan Murray appears content to retain Gonchar, especially with captain Daniel Alfredsson returning for another season.

San Jose Sharks veteran blueliner Dan Boyle has seen his name bandied about by some Philadelphia bloggers and pundits.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson doesn’t appear in any hurry to move Boyle, whose skills, experience and leadership would be difficult to replace. Wilson would also prefer to give Brent Burns, Boyle’s heir apparent, another season before determining if he’s ready to take over as the Sharks’ top blueliner.

The Buffalo Sabres are also a potential trade partner, as they’re carrying nine defensemen, eight of whom are on one-way contracts.

Since they traded Derek Roy to Dallas, the Sabres could use more depth at center. Some fans seem to think Sabres management would love to bring back Danny Briere (assuming he’d accept a trade), but odds are they’d be more interested in Couturier or Schenn.

One affordable option could be Canadiens blueliner Yannick Weber, who was the subject of trade speculation in his native Switzerland.

Weber denied the report, claiming his intent is to stick with the Habs, though he acknowledged the possibility of being moved at some point this season.

He lacks significant NHL experience, however, and Holmgren has enough inexperienced defensemen already on his blueline.

At this point, if Holmgren decides to shop for a defenseman or two, it appears his best options lie in the UFA market.

Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla's Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.


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