The Philadelphia Flyers are sorely lacking a No. 1 defenseman in the absence of Kimmo Timonen and Chris Pronger, but are they willing to give up a young stud forward for a prized D-man?
The Philadelphia Flyers suffered a scare last week when defenseman Braydon Coburn was sidelined by a lower-body injury. It raised speculation they might go shopping for blueline help if the injury was long term, but it appears he could return to action in a matter of days, rather than weeks.
For a defense corps still lacking a true top-two defenseman since Chris Pronger's career was ended by injury three years ago, and with Kimmo Timonen sidelined with career-threatening blood clots, the possibility of losing Coburn long term was a genuine cause for concern.
It should also put an end to any talk of the Flyers revisiting last year's near-deal with the Edmonton Oilers centered around Coburn, during the off-season. While Coburn's now become too valuable to move, this situation only serves to highlight the Flyers' need for a true first-pairing blueliner.
To acquire one, however, will almost certainly cost them a good young forward like Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds or Sean Couturier. Brayden Schenn could be a candidate, but he's off to a slow start (only two points in four games) and struggled during a brief sojourn last week on the Flyers' top line, which doesn't improve his trade value.
As always, cap space is an issue for the Flyers. They presently have around $2.055 million available, so they'll have to ship out salary to create space for a blueline addition.
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers had been bandied about the rumor mill, but he carries a $5.25-million cap hit and has yet to prove himself as a reliable top-pairing blueliner. The Sabres asking price is rumored to be steep at this point in the season, meaning the Flyers will have to look to within for now to address their defense issues.
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Myers isn't the only defenseman who could be available in the trade market. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reports Edmonton Oilers blueliner Jeff Petry continues to be mentioned as a trade candidate, while the Ottawa Senators currently have eight rearguards under one-way contracts this season.
Should the Senators shop a defenseman, LeBrun speculates Patrick Wiercioch or Marc Methot could be available. Wiercioch has yet to secure a full-time roster spot, while Methot could be moved if there's no significant progress in his contract talks.
Methot presently remains sidelined by a back injury, so moving him means waiting for the 29-year-old to return to game shape before teams will express serious interest. Wiercioch has promise but his struggles with the Senators could dampen his trade value.
With Ryan Miller ensconced as the Vancouver Canucks starting goaltender and Jacob Markstrom demote to the minors, is it possible they could put backup Eddie Lack on the market? He won't see much playing time behind Miller and Markstrom needs NHL playing time.
According to the Vancouver Province's Jason Botchford, Lack's not going anywhere. While Botchford believes the Canucks could be open to moving Lack for a quality young player (like a center), he claims they aren't getting offers anywhere close to that kind of return.
Botchford feels the best bet is to see if Lack excels over the course of the season, which could improve his trade value. That'll be difficult, however, if he only gets perhaps 15 games of action. It could take waiting for rival clubs to become desperate for goaltending help to boost Lack's value.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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