Flyers keep core of young players intact as deadline passes

Flyers keep core of young players intact as deadline passes
April 3, 2013, 5:45 pm
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“Don’t do anything rash.”
“Don’t waste our young kids on a has-been.”
Those words came directly from a couple of Flyers scouts, who said they would speak their mind on trade deadline day to keep their younger players from being moved.
To that end, the Flyers were entirely successful during Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline. They didn’t move Sean Couturier or Matt Read or Scott Laughton, or even any minor-league prospect in any deals.
That said, the Flyers remained unable to fortify their rather gaping holes on defense for the remainder of the season, but that wasn’t surprising.
Their entire defense can be tackled in the offseason. By then, the Flyers could also have a very high first-round draft pick, depending upon where they finish in the final Eastern Conference standings, to assist them in deal-making.
The only actual trade the Flyers made today was sending backup goalie Michael Leighton to Columbus for backup Steve Mason (see story).
The Flyers had lost confidence that Leighton could actually spell Ilya Bryzgalov and get a win.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren feels Mason can do that, although his stats over the past three years really don’t suggest he can be effective with a goals-against average over 3.00.
“I think he’s bounced back a little bit better this year,” Holmgren said, meeting with reporters late Wednesday afternoon.
“Sergei [Bobrovsky] has taken over the spot there. Steve is still a young goalie and has a lot of upside. Jeff Reese, our goalie coach, studies a lot of goalies and likes Steve, thinks something is there. Moving forward, he’s a guy we had an interest in.”
Holmgren dodged the question of whether he saw Mason as simply the backup to Ilya Bryzgalov.
“We see him as one of our two goalies,” he said. “Not only for the rest of this year, but moving forward. We’ll just leave it at that for now.”
Mason is a restricted free agent earning $2.9 million. Given his poor numbers, the Flyers will look to re-sign him for less money.
It’s hard to see the Flyers spending in excess of $8.5 million next season on Mason and Bryzgalov ($5.66 million) combined – assuming Bryzgalov is here.
“There’s a way you can work with Steve and his agent, to get his salary down a little bit,” Holmgren replied, all but saying Mason will have to take a pay cut.
“I don’t think that will be an issue.”
A former Calder Trophy winner, who enjoyed considerable success in junior – 2008 gold medal for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships and MVP – Mason didn’t shine on a number of poor Blue Jacket clubs.
The Flyers feel he’ll do better here. Then again, the Flyers have to improve themselves on defense to really have an impact on any goalie right now.
“I don’t know what’s gone on there [in Columbus], but we liked Steve as a young goalie,” Holmgren said. “I still think there’s tremendous upside there. We’ll bring him in, work with him and try to achieve his goals of being a better goalie, as well.”
In an unrelated move, the Flyers picked up 32-year-old forward Adam Hall off waivers from Tampa Bay (see story). This was an obvious depth move that cost them nothing.
“Max Talbot is out for the year,” Holmgren said, in explaining why Hall is here. “It was an easy decision. Adam’s been around. He’s bigger guy who can play left wing, center, right wing. It’s depth and experience.”
Talbot has a broken left leg.
You sensed the Flyers weren’t going to be terribly active on trade deadline day, and although they made a number of calls to teams looking toward the future, they didn’t make any impact moves.
“We did a lot of whistling the last few days, but didn’t push hard for anything to happen,” Holmgren said.
Actually, the Flyers were in it to the end for Ottawa goalie Ben Bishop before he was moved to Tampa Bay. They also inquired about Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle, a player who was available at last summer’s NHL draft on the very day the Flyers made the JVR trade for Luke Schenn.
An Ottawa source said the Senators wanted Sean Couturier for Bishop, a price the Flyers felt was too high. Indeed, it was because the Flyers may very well need to move Couturier this summer for a defenseman.
“We like our young group,” Holmgren said. “I think we can still make a little push here [in the standings] and we’ll see what happens over the final 13 games.
“We have a lot of good, young players that we like and I think a lot of other teams like them, too.”