Ever since the loss of Chris Pronger to injury back in 2011, defense has been the area where the Flyers needed a drastic improvement. Prior to the trade deadline, General Manager Ron Hextall mentioned the salary cap would prevent the team from going on a shopping spree. He also noted that they would make a move if it would help his club down the road, and that is exactly what he did on the two deals that were completed.
On Friday, the team sent Kimmo Timonen to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a second round pick in this years draft, as well as a conditional pick in 2016. Timonen mentioned that this year (his 16th season) would be his last, and getting dealt to a contender gives him one more crack at a Stanley Cup.
The question that remains is what type of shape is Timonen in? He stated that he feels good, but hasn’t played in a game since last years playoffs because of the blood clots he was dealing with over the summer. His presence will definitely be missed on the ice, but perhaps even more in the locker room. He was originally acquired in a trade along with Scott Hartnell with the Nashville Predators back in 2007.
After the Timonen deal, Hextall wasn’t done. With the deadline approaching, the Flyers sent Braydon Coburn to the Tampa Bay Lightning, in exchange for Defenseman Radko Goudas and first and third round picks in this years draft. Coburn had spent his last nine years in Philadelphia, after being acquired from the Atlanta Thrashers for Alexei Zhitnik back in 2007.
The team might miss his size, mainly on the penalty kill, but otherwise is seen as replaceable. The recent play of Michael Del Zotto, who is a restricted free agent this summer, also opened doors to moving another defenseman.
When we look at the defense now, there remains some age with Mark Streit, Nick Schultz, Rex Grossman and Carlo Calaiacovo, who are all in their 30’s. That leaves Andrew MacDonald, Luke Schenn, the newly acquired Gudas and Del Zotto who are under the 30 mark. That age will almost certainly go down next season, with prospects Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg, Travis Sanheim and Shane Gostisbehere waiting in the wings.
No one is certain as to which one(s) will be wearing a Flyers jersey next year, but the future of the defense is the brightest it has been in a long time. It could get even brighter come July, especially now that they have obtained an additional three picks in this years draft.