Heading into the deadline, it looked like the Philadelphia Flyers could have an exciting deadline. That didn’t quite happen, but general manager Ron Hextall and coach Dave Hakstol gave plenty to talk about including claiming Johnny Oduya, recalling Matt Read and promoting Oskar Lindblom.
Flyers Claim Oduya, Alt Claimed by Colorado, No Trades
In the past week, we may have heard more rumors about the Flyers than we have in the almost three years since Hextall was promoted to his current position. Bob McKenzie reported the team was interested in Evander Kane, Elliotte Friedman mentioned Sam Reinhart on the 31 Thoughts podcast, Mark Lazerus linked them to Ryan Hartman and The Fourth Period had the team targeting Patrick Maroon and Erik Karlsson.
Ultimately, the team didn’t make a deal in the week after the Petr Mrazek trade and the deadline, but did swap extra defensemen by accident. The Flyers claimed Johhny Oduya from the Ottawa Senators, but lost Mark Alt to the Colorado Avalance on waivers Monday.
Hextall confirmed during his post-deadline press conference that the organization didn’t know they were losing Alt when they made the claim for Oduya. That signifies the team saw Oduya as an improvement over the longtime Phantoms rearguard.
They got that right. Oduya is on one of his last breaths as an NHL player at 36 years old, but he can still be a reliable number six defenseman in a defensive role. He’s had a lackluster season in Ottawa, but the team has been in disarray for months now.
Oduya also brings leadership and is on a cheap contract at a $1 million cap hit. He does have some performance bonuses that could increase the total to $2.25 million, but the Flyers have the cap space and it will be tough for the Swede to hit all of them. He’ll likely start as the seventh, but could work his way into the lineup if Brandon Manning continues to struggle.
But maybe most importantly to Hextall was the fact that Oduya didn’t cost an asset. When blueliners like Brandon Davidson and Michael Kempny are going for third-round picks, getting a serviceable veteran for nothing can be considered a win.
Where Flyers fans will argue the team lost, though, is the fact that it had Travis Sanheim in the organization, a better defenseman than Oduya and a couple other blueliners already on the roster.
I agree with the sentiment, but I don’t believe Oduya is the one inhibiting Sanheim’s promotion. If the team had rolled with just Alt, it’s still unlikely that the rookie would have been recalled, barring an injury.
Oduya’s also a seasoned playoff veteran that could come in more handy than Sanheim, who has just 35 NHL games under his belt. We can argue that Sanheim should have more experience, but that decision for Sanheim was made a long time ago. Getting Oduya as a seventh defenseman improves the team, while also following the path the organization has created — for better or worse.
Matt Read Recalled
I explored the defense market in the last topic, but didn’t really touch on the forwards. For the most part, it was the same pattern. Forwards went for a costly price and this isn’t the year for the Flyers to be spending second-round picks on improving depth.
That doesn’t mean the Flyers didn’t add a forward — though it’s not one that is likely to make a big impact.
Hextall confirmed during his press conference that the team had recalled Matt Read before the trade deadline so that it did not count as one of the four max recalls each team is allowed after the trade deadline and before playoffs.
A good amount of Flyers fans, including myself, have petitioned for the recall of Read because he can kill penalties, has some speed and is a better player than Jori Lehtera and Dale Weise. Despite that, I wouldn’t expect the 31 year old to play much.
Philadelphia could have recalled him at any point, but Read’s played just four NHL games to this point. Hextall has proved so far this year that the team has moved past the undrafted forward.
One of the prime reasons Hextall buried Read in the minors was to showcase him to other teams for a trade. That didn’t happen and the Phantoms are filled with veterans and frequently play to the max allowed veterans daily.
By recalling him, the Phantoms lose a veteran and the Flyers get a possible injury replacement. I wouldn’t expect Read to play much more than that.
Lindblom Moved to Second Line
Like most Flyers fans, I hoped that Lindblom would find his way into the team’s top six after starting on the third line. I didn’t expect it to come so soon, though.
After two games of bottom six duty with Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl, Hakstol promoted Lindblom to the second line with Nolan Patrick and Jake Voracek against the Ottawa Senators Saturday. There were a couple different factors in that decision.
Jordan Weal, Wayne Simmonds’ replacement on the second line, hasn’t looked great lately and definitely wasn’t replacing Simmonds’ impact.
Lindblom didn’t have a point in his first two games — and still doesn’t — but showed why he’s a top prospect in his first two showings. The Swede can dominate in the corners and boards, plus attack the net. Those traits better replace Simmonds.
The move is also a positive sign that Lindblom’s shelf life with the Flyers won’t end when Simmonds returns from injury. Lindblom still has to put points on the board — something that held back Travis Sanheim earlier in the year — but he’s on the right track to being a full-time NHL player.
John Muse Signed
This signing should have no impact on the Flyers, but because it’s a transaction, I figured we could go over it.
John Muse is a netminder that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms signed to an AHL-only deal this season, but has actually played most of his games with the ECHL’s Reading Royals this year. Because of the rash of goalie injuries to the Flyers, he’s spent a bit of time with the Phantoms lately.
With contract spaces, Hextall signed Muse to a two-way NHL deal Monday afternoon. The Boston College product is still deep down the depth chart, but will now have more job security and cash in his pocket for the rest of the season.
It’s a nice move from the organization to reward a hard-working player and gives some insurance should something astronomically bad happen regarding goalie injuries.