Veteran Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen is being treated for blood clots to his right leg and both lungs back home in Finland, according to the Flyers’ official website.
Timonen, 39, is in the twilight of his NHL career but was still an important part of Philly’s back end last season. His 35 points in 77 games ranked second among Flyers D-men to Mark Streit, while his 20:19 average ice time was part of a pack of four blueliners at the top. Not only that, but Timonen was far and away Philadelphia’s best puck possession player on the back end.
Blood clots can be fatal, but they are also treatable. Florida’s Tomas Fleischmann has played through the condition with the proper treatment, for example. And while it’s too early to speculate, it’s certainly possible that Timonen plays again in 2014-15. On the other hand, Pittsburgh goalie Tomas Vokoun missed the entire regular season due to the same affliction.
Naturally, Timonen’s overall health is the most important thing here, but in a more trivial sense, this is a big blow to the Flyers’ ‘D’ corps. As previously mentioned, the Finn was one of the Philly’s best defensemen last year and even if this was to be his NHL swan song, he brought a great skills package to the table.
The Flyers were not a great defensive team last season, nor were they strong in puck possession, finishing 17th in Corsi for. If Timonen misses an extended period of time in 2014-15, a lot more pressure will be shifted onto fellow veteran Mark Streit, who will turn 37 in December. Barring a trade, one possible substitute for Timonen in the lineup would be rookie Shayne Gostisbehere, the former standout for Union College. Gostisbehere is fresh off a national championship run with the Dutchmen, helping them dust a loaded Boston College squad in the title game.
In the immediacy, Timonen will likely need a couple months to stabilize from the blood clots and that’s just the beginning.