Flyers should put Andrej Meszaros on the trade block

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Flyers should put Andrej Meszaros on the trade block

This is the year to be a seller, and for the teams lingering around the cellar, it’s time to assess the situation, evaluate the roster and start shaping it for next season.

It’s a harsh reality for Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, who hasn’t been in this position since taking over the GM job in October 2006.

However, with one of the deepest crop of 18-year-olds in this year’s amateur draft, it may not be a bad idea to add another first-round pick. Couple that with the Flyers' own pick, which is looking more like a top-15 selection, and Holmgren could set himself up for another interesting and productive offseason.

While many wonder if 35-year-old Danny Briere would graciously waive his no-trade clause, give the team some salary cap relief and provide a pick or two in return, I see the Flyers moving in a different direction.

Try Andrej Meszaros.

The Flyers' defenseman returned in March after separating his shoulder in the team’s fourth game of the season, which consequently forced him to miss the next six weeks. In the offseason he underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles'. 

Hard to believe he’s only 27 years old, but his body is already entering its mid-30s. Since his return, Meszaros hasn’t exactly solidified his place on the Flyers' blue line. He has been mixed and matched as head coach Peter Laviolette has stuck with Kimmo Timonen/Luke Schenn and Braydon Coburn/Nicklas Grossman as his top-two pairings. 

Meszaros has been fifth on the depth chart, logging an average of 18:33 very average minutes. He has yet to record a plus game with an overall minus-6 rating, and it’s tough to gauge where he might fit in for next season.

However, if you’re one of those teams on the other side of the playoff fence, there are benefits to what Mez can bring. He has a very reasonable cap hit at $4 million, plus he’s under contract for next season. Under those terms, he would be a much more affordable and desirable option than Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester, who has a hefty $6.5 million number and has never played in the postseason.

Meszaros, on the other hand, would bring a ton of playoff experience: 46 career games, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final (Senators ’07). He’s also capable of stepping up in all situations, and if healthy (raised eyebrows), Meszaros is good for 30-35 points next season.

NHL defensemen are like big-league starting pitchers and teams will overpay to get their hands on one. When you look across the league, a number of teams have taken significant hits to their blue lines. The Ottawa Senators took a major hit after losing Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson for the remainder of the season. The Senators are certainly familiar with Meszaros. However, if I were Holmgren, I wouldn’t even rule out the rival Rangers and Penguins, who will also be desperate to add defense. The price tag would just be a little steeper.

Start the bidding soon and by the time the April 3 trade deadline rolls around, Holmgren should be able to squeeze a first-round pick out of some team, and quite possibly a little bit more. And you don’t have to request Meszaros to waive a no-trade clause because he doesn’t have one.

From the Flyers' standpoint, Meszaros simply needs to stay healthy and play a little bit better. It could definitely help the orange and black next season, and perhaps, many seasons after that.

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Canucks 2

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Canucks 2

Box Score

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Flyers passed a freshness test Sunday night — barely.

After building a 3-0 lead in the first 23 minutes, the Flyers held on for a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

The Flyers were the more rested team. They had two days off here following Thursday’s loss in Edmonton — and a three-day break before the start of the trip.

But they almost allowed Vancouver to come back in the Canucks' second of back-to-back home games with only a day’s rest following a grueling six-game United States road trip.

The Flyers (28-24-7) moved within a point of the eighth and final playoff spot, currently shared by Florida and Boston, in the Eastern Conference. The Canucks (26-28-6) were denied a chance to gain ground on the final postseason berth in the Western Conference.

Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn — who added the goal that proved to be the winner — scored for the Flyers. Two of the three goals came on the power play. Both teams failed to score in the third period.

Markus Granlund and Jannik Hansen replied for the Canucks.

With the win, the Flyers avoided going winless on a three-game tour through British Columbia and Alberta. They posted their first victory in Western Canada in the past nine attempts.

Goalie report
Coach Dave Hakstol showed loyalty in Michal Neuvirth after the Flyers' netminder allowed four goals on his first 12 shots in Thursday’s one-sided loss in Edmonton. Neuvirth started off much better Sunday, as he got his toe on Markus Granlund’s dangerous chance from in close early and stopped all eight shots that he faced in the first period.

Power play
Hakstol was looking for the Flyers to rediscover their “swagger” on the power play. He got his wish early as Simmonds jammed in a Shayne Gostisbehere rebound only 5:45 into the game. The puck barely crossed the line but was clearly in, as confirmed by a video review. Vancouver winger Alex Burrows was off for hooking at the time. In the second period, Schenn padded his NHL power-play goals lead as he gave the Flayers a 3-0 lead at 2:38. Schenn scored his 14th power-play goal of the season on a shot from the slot as Simmonds screened Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller. With his goal, Simmonds moved into a tie for second in NHL man-advantage markers with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. Both players have 12.

Voracek busts his slump
The drought is over for Voracek. The winger busted his scoring slump as he gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead at 2:38 of the second period. The goal was Voracek’s first in 10 games. He had not scored since Jan. 25 against the New York Rangers.

Shayne the unfriendly ghost
Gostisbehere did not live up to his nickname. Ghost was quite visible as he assisted on all of the Flyers’ goals. It was Ghost's first career three-point game.

Did you notice?
Defenseman Michael Del Zotto had a chance for a rare breakaway with about five and a half minutes left in the first period, but missed a well-placed lead pass as he was coming out of the penalty box. Instead of a scoring opportunity, the missed pass led to an icing call and a face-off in the Flyers’ end.

Up next
The Flyers head back home to meet the NHL-best Washington Capitals on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m.

Best of NHL: Rangers stay hot with 2-1 win over Capitals

Best of NHL: Rangers stay hot with 2-1 win over Capitals

NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello scored a third-period goal and Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves, powering the Rangers to a 2-1 victory over the Capitals on Sunday.

Ryan McDonagh scored in the first period for New York, which has won seven of eight overall and five in a row at home.

Alex Ovechkin scored a second-period power-play goal for Washington. The first-place Capitals lost their second straight after a six-game winning streak. Philipp Grubauer made 28 saves for Washington.

Tied 1-1 entering the third period, Grubauer made two saves on Jimmy Vesey. Lundqvist answered with a nice glove stop on John Carlson's slap shot about seven minutes into the period.

Zuccarello broke the tie after Mika Zibanejad won a faceoff in the Washington zone and sent a pass to Chris Kreider. Kreider passed to Zuccarello, who beat Grubauer for his 12th of the season at 8:37 (see full recap).

Marchand's OT goal gives Bruins victory over Sharks
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Brad Marchand scored on a breakaway with 2:24 left in overtime and the Boston Bruins picked up where they left off before their six-day bye with a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.

Ryan Spooner also scored for the Bruins, who improved to 4-0 under interim coach Bruce Cassidy. Tuukka Rask made 29 saves.

Patrick Marleau scored the lone goal for the Sharks, who have lost six of eight games heading into their bye week. Four of those losses came in overtime and another in a shootout, giving San Jose nine points during the span. Martin Jones made 25 saves.

The winning play started on a faceoff in the Bruins' defensive zone. Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff back to Torey Krug, who sent a stretch pass up ice that Marchand retrieved behind the Sharks defense. He skated in all alone on Jones and beat him (see full recap).

Strome's 2 goals lead Isles over Devils
NEW YORK -- Ryan Strome had two goals and an assist to lead the New York Islanders to a 6-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night.

John Tavares, Andrew Ladd, Casey Cizikas and Jason Chimera also scored to help the Islanders improve to 9-0-2 in their last 11 at home. Jean-Francois Berube stopped 26 shots as New York pulled into a tie with Boston for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins were playing at San Jose.

Taylor Hall had a goal and two assists, Kyle Palmieri added a goal and an assist, and Miles Wood and Joseph Blandisi also scored for the Devils, who beat the Islanders 3-2 at home on Saturday night. Keith Kinkaid, starting for first time since Jan. 29, finished with 26 saves. New Jersey had won six straight on the road and were 8-0-1 in their last nine away from Prudential Center (see full recap).

Red Wings pull away in third to top Penguins
PITTSBURGH -- Tomas Tatar and Thomas Vanek scored early third-period goals to lead the Red Wings to a 5-2 victory against the Penguins on Sunday.

Nick Jensen and Steve Ott also scored and Luke Glendening added an empty-netter for the Red Wings, who completed a back-to-back sweep of Washington and Pittsburgh, two of the top teams in the league. Petr Mrazek made 24 saves for his second win in as many days, having lost his previous four games.

Detroit defeated Washington in a shootout at home Saturday and followed with the win at Pittsburgh, the NHL's best home team. It was the Red Wings' second victory against Pittsburgh this season.

Detroit, which lost five straight before the weekend victories, remained near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, but within striking distance of the final playoff spot.

Sidney Crosby scored his league-leading 32nd goal and Tom Kuhnhackl added his third with the Penguins short-handed. The Penguins lost in regulation for the first time since the All-Star break (see full recap)