Flyers quiet on Tuesday... Were in talks with Buffalo about D Brian Campbell and the Islanders about Ruslan Fedotenko, notable among other possibilities. Holmgren balked at both because the price was too high and confirmed both asked for Jeff Carter in return. Being that Holmgren kept Carter, you figure he wants to sign the kid in the summer. Campbell would have fit a similar bill to Dan Boyle of Tampa, a good puck moving defensemen who is a free agent after the season. You can bet that the Sabres had an especially high price tag for the Flyers given the tampering accusations over Danny Briere and the fact that they are both fighting to make the playoffs. Fedotenko was shopped and ultimately kept by the Islanders. Again a trade within division would also have required a premium price to pay so Holmgren stayed put and the Isles wound up keeping Ruslan anyway.
Here's some notes about the moves made by teams which affect the Flyers:
Acquire Bryce Salvador from StL for Cam Janssen which isn't much of a loss for NJ considering Janssen has missed a big chunk of time this year on the shelf with a dislocated right shoulder. Salvador can lay some big hits and is solid in his own zone but provides nothing from the point on offense and isn't too quick. In other words, typical Devils defensemen. The Devils had been rumored to make some other moves but as well as they have played lately, a little tweak was all they need. And it looks like they will stick with their coach this year.
Dealt away Chris Simon to Minnesota for a 6th rounder, anything to get him out of there. Also sent D Marc-Andre Bergeron to Anaheim for a 3rd rounder (both picks in upcoming draft). Bergeron is an undersized defensemen who is a big help on the powerplay but a liability at even strength. Fishsticks also re-signed C Mike Comrie to a one year extension. They still have Miroslav Satan, Ruslan Fedotenko and Josef Vasicek (the teams 3rd, 5th and 6th leading scorers) as unrestricted free agents after the season but the Isles should have plenty of cap room if they want to sign any or all of them. They later took D Rob Daveson from San Jose essentially just to get a body on the blue line for a 7th rounder.
When Henrik Lundqvist signed his long-term deal, it was only a matter of time before G Al Montoya was shipped off Broadway. NYR packaged the 6th overall pick in the 2004 draft along with Marcel Hossa (the Rangers equivalent of the Phillies having Mike Maddux) to Phoenix in exchange for G David Leneveu, a career AHLer who may assume the backup duties in the future, RW Fredrik Sjostrom who Phoenix had on their top line earlier in the year although he cooled off lately. He has pretty good speed, vision and ability to create plays. Josh Gratton (who played a smidge for the Flyers in 2005 before being sent to PHX in the deal which brought back Denis Gauther) is an enforcer who has spent most of his career in the minors as well. They also brought in D Christian Backman from StL, who has been troubled by injuries in the latter half of this season and is a little light for a 6'4" frame. Still, its better than throwing Jason Strudwick out there.
Save the best for last. In addition to the blockbuster of the day, Pittsburgh also acquired Hal Gill from Toronto in exchange for a couple of picks. Gill is 6'7" 250, and the Pens needed a big tough defensemen and they got one. He won't be much of a blue line threat and isn't quick but with Malkin, Hossa, Sykora and Crosby (returning soon) up front, he doesn't need to be. If Pittsburgh makes a big run, THIS deal could actually be the more important one they made.
Of course as we know, the Penguins win the Marian Hossa sweepstakes and also got Pascal Dupuis from Atlanta. Hossa is Hossa and Dupuis is a quick forward who does a lot of things around the ice but doesn't finish as often as he should or he would have more than 34 goals combined since the 04-05 season. It came at a price though: Pittsburgh loses Colby Armstrong-a former 1st rd pick who is a good defensive forward, Angelo Esposito-a talented prospect who had been knocked for his laziness in spite of his skill still playing in juniors, PITs 1st rd pick last year, Erik Christensen who can rip shots but loses a lot of battles for the puck and the Pens 1st round pick in this year's draft. All of the guys Pit brought in also helps their PK, including Hossa.
Can the Pens sign Hossa to an extension after the season? Yes, but with Malkin and D Ryan Malone among other young members of the Pittsburgh core due for paydays coming up, the Penguins are in danger of falling into the same trap Tampa Bay did: have a top-heavy roster consuming a lot of cap space leaving you with little depth.
Notes about teams fighting with Flyers for playoff contention:
Dealt D Brian Campbell to San Jose for Steve Bernier and a 1st rounder. Campbell may very well return to the Sabres in the summer as a free-agent but the 2 sides couldnt work out a deal and the Sabres didn't want to risk losing ANOTHER big name for nothing (Drury, Briere). Bernier is a power foward and the Sabres could use some bulk up front although he is still young.
Making a run with Sergei Federov who is a free agent after the year in exchange for D prospect Ted Ruth. Also got a solid goalie in Cristobal Huet from MTL who can help them with a playoff push. The Caps aren't looking to take the 8th spot, they are looking above that as they are only 5 points out of their division lead and could vault into the 3rd seed. They also brought in Matt Cooke from Vancouver to help the PK (although he has been injury prone) and swapped prospects with Atlanta in a minor deal that shouldn't impact this season at all.
The only team in the Eastern Conference that didn't do a damn thing. They had been rumored to be in on the Hossa deal considering their troubles scoring for much of the year but anyone they asked about wanted a piece of the young core that they weren't willing to part with. They have been solid but clearly they are playing for a year or so from now. The nearer future may include the return of Patrice Bergeron, the victim of the Randy Jones incident back in October. He has started skating there's still no real timetable for his return as with most severe head injuries (Flyers followers know this better than anyone).
Mike Mreczko is the Flyers reporter for Sports Radio 950 (WPEN) in Philadelphia. E-mail comments to [email][email protected]