Nothing yet on Michal Neuvirth, but plenty can happen for Flyers on trade deadline day

Nothing yet on Michal Neuvirth, but plenty can happen for Flyers on trade deadline day

It's the least favorite day of the NHL season for most players.

Welcome to trade deadline day.

Because of salary cap restraints and an ongoing rebuild over the past couple seasons, the Flyers enter this year's deadline pretty much the way they entered last year's -- as sellers, not buyers.

General manager Ron Hextall stood pat a year ago on the team that was on the upswing at the end and headed to the postseason.

That can't be said this time around for coach Dave Hakstol's squad as the Flyers entered Tuesday's games six points behind Toronto in the wild card.

There isn't a single player available that would guarantee the Flyers a playoff berth and Hextall knows that.

Hextall said over the weekend in Pittsburgh, he would be inclined to sell. Tuesday's 4-0 massacre of Colorado has to be taken with a large dose of reality (see story). The Avs are the worst team in the league.

Florida and Washington will offer considerably more of a challenge this week.

"We haven't gotten results," Hextall said last Friday. "We need to get results. It's not about moral victories or playing good against Washington. That's fine and dandy but not good enough. We have to win games."

They haven't won enough to this point and remain a long shot to earn 93 or 94 points, which could get them in.

Which is why Hextall will likely try to sell Wednesday unless there is something out there long term that benefits the club. Most teams make deals on deadline day for this season, this playoff run.

Hextall won't dive into the fray for a major signing unless the benefit goes into next year and beyond because there are no guarantees his team will even qualify for the postseason right now.

The Flyers' current scoring woes run deep throughout the roster. No single-player acquisition is going to change those fortunes this season.

Hextall has three pending unrestricted free-agent defensemen -- Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz -- one or more of whom might be of draft pick value to the Flyers in a trade.

Hextall also has two goaltenders -- Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth -- whom are set to be UFAs. Either of them might be of value as a backup to some club, but that ship seems to have sailed with the L.A. Kings' rather inexpensive acquisition of Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay earlier this week.

A report by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun surfaced Tuesday night that the Flyers were trying to re-sign Neuvirth right now. Sources said no deal was reached Tuesday.

Colorado has spent a lot of time over the past month scouting the Flyers and other clubs in an attempt to move Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog.

Yet, if the Flyers were going to do anything there -- the asking price was rumored to be enormous -- they would have completed a deal Tuesday before the Flyers played the Avs to assure their acquisition wasn't injured during the game. Didn't happen.

One thing Hextall has at his disposal on Wednesday is a slew of young defensemen (see Future Flyers Report), at least two of which will be NHL-ready next fall, plus a deep pool of goaltenders, one of whom figures to be the club's next long-term franchise goalie, the way Hextall was during his playing days.

Since returning to the organization in the summer of 2013, Hextall has been very careful about protecting his assets. Both of L.A.'s Stanley Cups during this decade owe a chunk of its success to the organizational depth Hextall built and oversaw as the Kings' assistant GM to Dean Lombardi.

He won't move future parts without getting similar, significant parts in return. He hasn't forgotten that 11 players from the Kings' Cup roster of 2014 were players he oversaw in player development.

That model for success is what Hextall is trying to duplicate here in Philadelphia, amid an anxious fan base that would like to see the "process" accelerated at a faster pace.

Won't happen.

Hextall believes time is on his side and, as he said last week, he won't promote any young prospect to the NHL level until he's certain they're ready.

Loose pucks
With trade deadline day Wednesday, Hextall has his key people in town (scouting and personnel), including senior vice president Bob Clarke, who Hextall leans on for advice about the makeup of certain players. ... Michael Raffl's injury against Colorado was listed as lower body, but the fact is, he took a very hard hit to the upper body along the boards.

Flyers-Wild 10 observations: Sean Couturier shows flash, Matt Read answers call & more

Flyers-Wild 10 observations: Sean Couturier shows flash, Matt Read answers call & more

You know Dave Hakstol has reached crisis measures when he takes a skill player in Travis Konecny and throws him onto the fourth line while promoting Matt Read to the top line.

This was risk-taking at its craziest to generate some enthusiasm and life into a Flyers squad that didn't show much of a pulse a few nights earlier in Winnipeg.

Guess what?

It worked during a 3-1 victory on Thursday, the Flyers' fifth straight win over the Wild going back a few years (see Instant Replay).

Their playoff hopes still flicker.

As much as the fan base hated the lineup moves, consider this: general manager Ron Hextall was very explicit this week in saying that the roster Hakstol has right now is what it is. Hextall is not going to promote any young Phantoms into a bad situation when they are headed for what could be a decent playoff run in the AHL.

Therefore, as my former colleague Bill Lyon would say, here are 10 things I think, I think …

1. The Flyers began the game as they have so often this season with yet another turnover and scoring chance against them. Rinse and repeat. The Flyers had three turnovers in less than five minutes to start the game.

2. Minutes later, Steve Mason coughed up a bad rebound off his stick and Zach Parise burned him with a gimme goal for a 1-0 lead. Mason had issues in this one with rebounds that were looking like grenades, but he settled down with a strong final two periods with 24 saves. This was Mason's 100th win as a Flyer (see game story).

3. You had to see it to believe it. Sean Couturier with a nice backhand shot through Devan Dubnyk's five-hole to make it a 1-1 game near the end of the opening period (see feature highlight). I haven't seen that kind of offensive move from Couturier in quite some time. Question is, why can't he do that nightly instead of semiannually? That's the offensive spark you know Couturier is capable of providing.

4. The Wild were very aggressive in this one as they were trying to clinch a playoff spot, so the Flyers had to match that intensity. The Flyers more than matched it. This was far, far better than what Hakstol's team brought to the ice in Winnipeg. Not even close, as the Flyers dominated.

5. Matt Read had a quick stick -- no other way to explain it -- on his goal in the second period off a series of Wild turnovers that came about because of a play set up by Jakub Voracek. That goal seemingly stunned Dubnyk. It was Read's second goal in the last two games. He was all over the ice in this one. Many nights this season, Read was invisible. Not this game.

6. The Flyers had some genuine scoring chances in this game. You had to wonder where this desire to skate, create and score was all through the month of February and into March. The Flyers had strong forecheck pressure and a rebound-attack mentality the entire second period. If that had happened with regularity down the stretch, this team would be sitting in the wild card right now.

7. While the shake-up of the lines obviously benefited Read, it did little for Konecny and actually set him back. He was invisible. No shots. No hits. Invisible with little ice time. Really can't figure this move out but obviously Hakstol is upset with him for some reason.

8. Minnesota went all in at the NHL trade deadline to get Martin Hanzal and Ryan White, forking over four draft picks, including a first-rounder. The Wild were leading the Central Division before losing six straight (and eight of nine) that allowed Chicago to regain the top spot in the division. The Wild don't look like the same confident, surging team it was a month ago in the Western Conference.

9. Minnesota had a strong push in the final five minutes and the Flyers had some initial difficulty answering that until the final minute when Wayne Simmonds picked up his 300th point as a Flyer on Voracek's empty-net goal to seal the deal. A nice way to finish off a complete effort by everyone involved.

10. The Flyers picked up two points on Boston, which lost to Tampa Bay, and are six behind the Bruins in the wild card. They still remain a l-o-n-g shot to make the playoffs, given the sheer number of teams ahead of them that they need to climb over.

Best of NHL: Nikita Kucherov hat trick lifts Lightning over Bruins

Best of NHL: Nikita Kucherov hat trick lifts Lightning over Bruins

BOSTON -- Nikita Kucherov had his third career hat trick to lead Tampa Bay to a 6-3 victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, snapping the Lightning's three-game losing streak.

Jonathan Drouin had a goal and two assists, Brayden Point had a goal and an assist and Anton Stralman also scored to help the Lightning pull three points behind the Bruins for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

Peter Budaj finished with 28 saves for the Lightning to earn his 29th win of the season. Ondrej Palat had three assists, and Jake Dotchin and Victor Hedman added two each.

Riley Nashy had a goal and an assist for Boston, and David Pastrnak and Zdeno Chara also scored. Tuukka Rask stopped 23 shots as Boston, which won seven of the first eight games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, has now lost four straight and six of 11 (see full recap).

Oshie beats Bobrovsky to give Caps SO win
WASHINGTON -- T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.

Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.

Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington's 35th shot of the game. Orlov's goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.

Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead (see full recap).

Senators take down Penguins in shootout
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan scored in the shootout to lift the Ottawa Senators to a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.

Mike Hoffman scored in regulation for the Senators and Mike Condon finished with 34 saves, including two incredible point-blank stops in overtime to keep the game going.

Nick Bonino had the goal in regulation for the Penguins and Matt Murray stopped 29 shots.

After being outplayed for much of the first two periods, the Senators were much better in the third and tied the score 1-1 on the power play at 9:43 as Hoffman beat Murray over the shoulder with a wrist shot just 14 seconds after Matt Cullen was penalized for holding (see full recap).