Look toward next year.
That was the message from Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren over the weekend about what his intentions are when the NHL trade deadline arrives at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.
Now that they are just two points out of a playoff spot, things may have changed. A source says the Flyers are in talks with San Jose about a few possible scenarios, including one that could bring winger Ryane Clowe to Philadelphia.
Clowe would add considerable grit to the top line and perhaps actually create space for Giroux, something he has not had since the departure of Jaromir Jagr. Giroux has been unable to find space on his own this season.
The price for 30-year-old Clowe, who has no goals in 28 games, is expected to be high despite his off year. He is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
One Flyers source said that the deal would not happen if the Sharks insisted on acquiring Sean Couturier. As of late Monday afternoon, Clowe remained a Shark. The Sharks did, however, trade former Flyer Michal Handzus to the Chicago Blackhawks.
“If there is something we could do that would help us now and for the future, we would talk about that,” Holmgren said on Saturday during the Flyers-Bruins game. “Obviously, we’re not in the position of going after rental players. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Holmgren said that no one could have predicted that the Flyers would turn in a defensive gem against the Bruins, beating them 3-1, or that the Rangers would get shut out 3-0 in Montreal, allowing the Flyers to actually pull within four points of the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Or that the Flyers would come back from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Washington Capitals, 5-4, on Easter Sunday to draw within two points of a playoff berth.
Even club chairman Ed Snider admitted his team has been so unpredictable this team in trying to tell whether it’s playoff bound, it’s hard to justify making short-term moves that may very well be unwarranted.
Holmgren was asked, however, if the Flyers won both home games against Boston and Washington, would that change his thinking going into the deadline.
“I guess it’s highly unlikely we would be position to go after a rental player,” he replied. “And if we win the next two games does it change? Maybe. Again, we’re looking for the long-term, too.”
Flyers president Peter Luukko said the club feels it can address issues over the summer.
Much like Snider, Luukko said, the primary focus will be on strengthening the club’s defense.
It doesn’t take a hockey genius to see that the Flyers' defense has not only been a physical wreck this season, but even when healthy, is several notches below, talent-wise, to compete with other Stanley Cup contenders.
On losing DeKeyser
Holmgren said that head college scout, Ross Fitzpatrick, was “disappointed” in losing out on Western Michigan defensive prospect Danny DeKeyser.
The 23-year-old Michigan native chose the Red Wings and joined the club this weekend where he is expected to be in their lineup fulltime next season.
Fitzpatrick is the Flyers' scout who landed Matt Read and Erik Gustafsson in recent years.
“At the end, Danny DeKeyser is a Detroit kid and they probably had the inside track from the start,” Holmgren said. “We’d like to think we were in to the end.”