Rumors keep Flyers on edge as deadline looms

Rumors keep Flyers on edge as deadline looms
March 4, 2014, 2:00 pm
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Defenseman Andrej Meszaros has been the subject of trade rumors surrounding the Flyers. (USA Today Images)

The next 48 hours are some of the toughest hockey players face.

With the NHL trade deadline set for Wednesday at 3 p.m., some players are on edge.

Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros, a pending unrestricted free agent, has to wonder whether he’ll still be with the team for Wednesday's game against Washington at 8 p.m.

Meszaros has been in and out of the lineup all season and the club unsuccessfully tried to trade him during training camp.

The Flyers' 28-year-old defenseman has played just 38 games this season while earning $4 million.

Would he prefer to go to a club where he knows he’ll play every night, get 20 minutes of ice time and not be jockeyed back ‘n forth in the lineup?

“I prefer to play and I prefer to play and stay here,” Meszaros said. “[Wednesday] is the trade deadline and I’m not looking for anything. I want to be here right now, do my job and play. What will happen, will happen. Everybody wants to play all the time. It was tough this year for me, I know that. I still like it here. I really enjoy being here with the guys. It’s going to be interesting [Wednesday].”

Meszaros said he’s not worried about what might happen. He doesn’t think about it.

However, Boston is in dire need of a veteran physical defensemen. Essentially, the Bruins have a top four and couple younger players or rookies after that. They have serious interest in Meszaros.

Things are a little different for 22-year old center Brayden Schenn, who is one of several younger Flyers who would likely be sent elsewhere if any kind of impact player were acquired.

It’s no secret the Vancouver Canucks are shopping center Ryan Kesler, who turns 30 this summer and has two years left on a deal with a $5 million cap hit.

The Canucks reportedly are asking quite a bit for Kesler, including a young center and first-round pick in return, plus a prospect.

The Flyers, who once gave Kesler an offer sheet in the Bob Clarke Era only to have it matched, are already overloaded in centers.

Swapping one for the other makes little sense since it doesn’t free up a spot in the middle for Vinny Lecavalier and it doesn’t address the Flyers’ most pressing need, which is on the blue line -- not center.

Unless, as some league sources suggest, the Flyers are trying to drive the price up on Kesler to make him unaffordable to Pittsburgh, which has serious interest in him, as do Toronto and others.

“It’s part of the business, whatever happens, happens,” Schenn said of deadline rumors. “I’m not going to sit there and try to read into things. It doesn’t really affect me.”

Schenn said that Wednesday might produce some nervousness among the players, but you can’t worry about this without it affecting your ability to play. And the Flyers have a game Wednesday, too.

“[Wednesday] might be a little nerve-racking for guys around the league,” Schenn said. “Leading up to it is a whole lot of rumors.”

The Flyers have interest in a wide range of defensemen, any of whom would represent an upgrade but none of whom would be seen as an “impact” player worthy of replacing a Chris Pronger: Andrew MacDonald (Islanders), Alex Edler (Vancouver), Trevor Daley (Stars) and 6-foot-8 Tyler Myers (Sabres).

If Nashville general manager David Poile were to part with Shea Weber now to avoid paying out another $13 million in bonus money on June 30, the Flyers would do whatever it takes to land him.

Poile said again last week he is not trading Weber.

Last year, the Flyers acquired center Adam Hall and goalie Steve Mason on deadline day. Suffice to say, Mason’s acquisition represents one of the most important players  the Flyers have ever acquired at the deadline.