Flyers should put Andrej Meszaros on the trade block


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.

Best of NHL: Oilers blank Jets to win outdoor Heritage Classic

Best of NHL: Oilers blank Jets to win outdoor Heritage Classic

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Cam Talbot made 31 saves and Mark Letestu scored the first of three second-period goals, lifting the Edmonton Oilers over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday in an outdoor game delayed almost two hours by sunlight melting the ice.

The Heritage Classic victory extended Edmonton's winning streak to three in front of 33,240 at Investors Group Field. Fans wore both Jets and Oilers jerseys to the league's 19th outdoor game.

Zack Kassian had a goal and an assist and Darnell Nurse also scored for Edmonton.

Connor Hellebuyck, who had a tuque attached to his helmet, stopped 29 shots for Winnipeg.

The NHL said the start of the Heritage Classic game was delayed "due to intermittent sunlight on the playing surface" and "in the interest of player safety." (see full recap)

Girardi leads Rangers past Coyotes
NEW YORK -- Dan Girardi scored 1:55 into the third period and New York beat Arizona.

Josh Jooris and J.T. Miller also scored for New York, which has won consecutive games to improve to 4-2-0. Henrik Lundqvist made 27 stops.

Radim Vrbata had both of Arizona's goals, and Louis Domingue made 23 saves. The Coyotes have lost their first four games on a six-game trip since beating Philadelphia in overtime at home to start the season.

Girardi put the Rangers ahead with a slap shot from the right point. The veteran was paired with rookie Brady Skjei in his first game after missing New York's previous three with a strained groin, and Skjei assisted on the goal (see full recap).

Tavares' big night helps Isles defeat Wild
NEW YORK -- John Tavares had two goals and an assist, Johnny Boychuk scored for the second straight game and New York beat Minnesota.

Calvin de Haan, Alan Quine and Thomas Hickey also scored to help New York get its highest scoring total of the year and win for the third time in four home games after opening with two road losses. Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots for his first win in two starts this season.

Islanders rookie Anthony Beauvillier had two assists, giving the 19-year-old at least a point in three straight games.

Zach Parise scored twice for Minnesota to top 300 goals for his career, and Nino Niederreiter also scored. Second-string goalie Darcy Kuemper made 27 saves (see full recap).

Ducks hand Canucks 1st regulation loss
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Nick Ritchie scored the tiebreaking goal on a rebound with 8:36 to play, captain Ryan Getzlaf had three assists and Anaheim finally opened its home schedule with a victory over Vancouver.

Andrew Cogliano, Cam Fowler and Corey Perry also scored for the Ducks, who have won two straight after a four-game winless start. John Gibson made 17 saves in the Western Conference's final home opener, thanks to a schedule that forced Anaheim to play in five teams' home debuts this month.

Henrik Sedin scored the tying goal early in the third period for the Canucks, who lost in regulation for the first time this season. Bo Horvat scored a short-handed goal, and Loui Eriksson had two assists (see full recap).

Michael Del Zotto, Scott Laughton return to practice

Michael Del Zotto, Scott Laughton return to practice

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers welcomed two more players out on to the rink for their practice following Saturday’s 6-3 win over Carolina. 

Michael Del Zotto (lower body) and Scott Laughton (lower body) returned to the ice for the first time since suffering injuries within days of each other. Before Sunday’s light practice, Del Zotto and Laughton had skated two consecutive days prior to work on their conditioning. 

“It’s nice to see them back with the group,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. 

Laughton, who injured himself during a training camp practice after losing an edge, was a bit more forward than Del Zotto on when he hopes to return. 

“I would say within the next five to seven days,” Laughton said.

The 22-year-old pointed to Saturday’s game with Pittsburgh as his target to return. 

As for Del Zotto, the defenseman didn’t want to jinx anything, saying it’s a “day-by-day” situation. He would like to think he’s working on the same timetable as Laughton. If that’s the case, he would be back either a few days before or right on cue with the projected four to five weeks he was scheduled to miss after suffering an injury to his left knee in the preseason against the New York Rangers on Oct. 6. 

“It’s kind of trial and error,” Del Zotto said. 

Above all else, though, the two were just happy to be back with their teammates. Del Zotto said that being around everyone really rejuvenated his spirits. 

“Just being back around the guys and having that team chemistry and camaraderie and being able to joke with the guys,” Del Zotto said, “it’s probably been the best thing for me.”

This past month has especially been hard on the two because of the timing and how last season ended for them. 

While there’s never an ideal time to suffer an injury, the pair saw training camp and the approaching start of the regular season in a different light than most of their teammates.

It was supposed to be their new start. Last season, Del Zotto missed the final few months, including the postseason, after ligament damage to his left wrist. He was having a strong preseason, arguably the top defenseman in camp at the time before suffering his setback.

“Being out so long last year and having to sit and watch playoffs than having six months of grueling rehab to get back into it … that made it sting that much more,” Del Zotto said. “That’s part of the game. It’s a contact sport. I signed up for this.”

The same can be said for Laughton, who experienced a scary injury in Game 4 against Washington after being dumped head first into the boards. 

“I was really excited to have camp and start the year here,” Laughton said. 

The two will be traveling to Montreal with the rest of the Flyers for Monday’s contest. They will each do the morning skate with another bag skate afterward.