Ask any member of the Philadelphia Flyers defense and they'll tell you they're comfortable heading into the season. The defense is fine and they're confident the team will be just swell heading into the new season.
That may very well be the case, but it's going to take some magic. Notably, Kimmo Timonen can't get hurt, Andrej Meszaros can't have much of an injury set back, Nicklas Grossmann has to be fully healthy, all three of those players and Braydon Coburn need to play increased, tougher minutes than they have in recent years, and Luke Schenn has to quickly grow into a top-four guy, something he just simply hasn't been consistently over his NHL career.
The Flyers have a lot of depth on offense now. As it stands in camp, they have eight guys on the team. Here's how the pairings seem to be shaping up this week, although there has been quite a bit of juggling:
Kimmo Timonen - Luke Schenn
Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann
Andrej Meszaros - Foster/Lilja/Gervais
It's all still very fluid during this short camp, but this is what we're likely looking at this season, at least to start. The coaching staff have paired Timonen with Schenn all camp long thus far, which is a concern, because we really don't know if Schenn can handle top-pairing minutes, even if he's paired with the best defenseman on the team.
Coburn and Grossmann will likely wind up taking a little extra of a load, but all in all barring injury should be just fine, and the third pairing shouldn't really have any issues either. It's at the top where we worry. Of his four seasons at the NHL level, Schenn has performed well in just one of them. He was rewarded with a new contract following that season and has been a dud ever since. We still hope Schenn can realize his potential in Philadelphia and become a top-pairing guy some day, but we're not exactly convinced that's happening right away.
It'd be nice to ease Schenn in a bit more than just throwing him to the fire on the top pairing in game one. Could an acquisition of Wade Redden potentially do the trick?
If you haven't heard, the NHL will allow teams to use their compliance buyouts before Saturday if they so choose, with the caveat that bought out players will count against the cap this season. For the Flyers, this would mean absolutely nothing -- a guy like Redden or Scott Gomez would be unrestricted free agents and free to sign just like another other.
So would Redden help the defense?
If he's going to be another third pairing guy, then no, he won't help the defense. The Flyers already have enough Kurtis Foster's and Andreas Lilja's and Bruno Gervais' of the world. We don't need another. The only way a guy like Redden could help is if he could coherently play on the top pairing alongside Timonen, or if he could lessen the burden on the second pairing and allow Coburn or Grossmann to step up and play the larger role with Timonen.
Sadly, it's really tough to get a gauge on where Redden sits at this point in his career. He hasn't played an NHL game since the 2009-10 season, but he wasn't sent to the AHL because he flat out couldn't play anymore. He was sent there because he had a ridiculous contract that he couldn't live up to, but at the right price tag, he might just be a quality NHL player with something to prove.
It'd be a risk acquiring him. Ideally, the Flyers would toss him a tryout contract during a regular training camp situation and see how he performs, but that's clearly not an option for them this year. It all comes down to the price tag, and I can't imagine many teams throwing a lot of money at Wade Redden without knowing what they're getting into, so if he came about at the right price -- say, under $1.5 million, closer to $1 million -- it could definitely be worth the risk during a shortened season. Would you take it?