With the trade deadline coming in one week from today, the Flyers find themselves in a pretty interesting situation. On the one hand, while the Flyers could certainly use upgrades here and there, they probably don't have the pieces and/or aren't in the right position to be making a rental or marginal upgrade. And on the other hand, they've probably only got a couple of pieces that are really looking like players who could potentially be moved.
Fortunately, if you're looking for news, one of those trade chips may be gathering some attention. David Strehle, correspondent over at The Fourth Period (and occasional contrubutor here at BSH) caught this bit of information on NHL Network last night from TSN's Darren Dreger and was kind enough to relay it across the good old Twitter machine:
Darren Dreger says on 'NHL Tonight' the #Bruins may have interest in acquiring #Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros at the trade deadline.— David Strehle (@DStrehleTFP) February 26, 2014
First of all, it goes without saying that when it comes to things like trade rumors, guys like Dreger and TSN colleague Bob McKenzie are the most reputable names out there. If someone like Dreger is reporting this, there's probably something to it. So let's discuss.
In looking at how the Flyers can approach this trade deadline (i.e. should they buy? Should they sell? Should they do both?), the one move that makes the most sense is almost certainly a trade of Andrej Meszaros. Mesz, who's stayed healthy just about all season after missing huge chunks of the last two seasons with myriad injuries, is in the final year of his contract.
Full Deadline Coverage
Full Deadline Coverage
If the Flyers aren't willing to give him a regular lineup spot (despite dressing inferior players every night, though that's a discussion for another day), it seems pretty unlikely that they'll be willing to re-sign him when the offseason rolls around. Basically, when you consider that he's probably more valuable right now to someone else than he is to the Flyers, you've got a trade chip.
Mesz and Erik Gustafsson have been switching off on the third pairing every few games, frustrating both of them and just about everyone else in the process. But Meszaros has also played really well over the past couple of months. He has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 15 games since the calendar turned to 2014, he's been moving around the ice better, and he's looked more like the guy who did a great job holding down the third pairing in 2010-11 than he has at any other point since then.
He's still a bit of an adventure in his own zone, but everyone likes getting a decent passer and shooter from their blueline, and point totals from defensemen always catch people's attention. So given all of the above, you can see why Meszaros would catch a GM's attention.
Which brings us to the aforementioned possible suitor, the Boston Bruins. They've been searching for another blueliner ever since their star rearguard, Zdeno Chara, lost his usual defensive partner, former Flyer Dennis Seidenberg, with a torn ACL in January. In fact, this isn't even the first time Meszaros' name has been mentioned in conjunction with Boston -- CSN New England mentioned him (autoplay warning) as one of several possible trade targets following Seidenberg's injury, and the folks at Bruins blog Days of Y'Orr laid out the thought process behind a possible Meszaros trade about a month ago.
So the thought of Mesz in yellow and black has come up before in Beantown. And it could work -- if the plan would indeed be to pair Meszaros with his fellow countryman Chara, it would let him jump ahead in the play and put his offensive ability to good use, while knowing that one of the best defensemen in the league (the best, in my opinion, but that's just me) is back covering for him in case something goes wrong. (If that's not the plan, maybe it's a bit iffier, but the Bruins are responsible enough defensively that they can figure it out.)
If the Bruins are the team, chances are some sort of current NHL player would have to come back in return. The Bruins are currently over the salary cap and can only make a move thanks to the long-term injured reserve exemption that is currently covering both Seidenberg's and Marc Savard's contracts. The great capgeek.com states that they currently hold $4,089,167 of space, thanks to LTIR room -- technically, juuuuuuust enough to fit Meszaros' $4 million deal into the mix, but teams typically try to carry around more than five figures' worth of flexibility.
So some player currently counting against the Bruins' cap would probably be headed the Flyers' way. In the post linked above, Days of Y'Orr specifically mentioned someone like 23-year old winger Jordan Caron, who's nothing special but could be a respectable fourth-line body (or could go to the Phantoms). Since ideally the Flyers would get more than just a fourth-liner for Meszaros, the trade would almost certainly also include some sort of pick or other prospect going to the Flyers as well, though how valuable of one it would be is anyone's guess.
In all likelihood, the return on Meszaros would probably be pretty modest. But given that he's spent sizeable chunks of the year as a healthy scratch, turning him for any sort of value would be a nice gig for the Flyers.
As we mentioned yesterday, the Flyers' biggest trade deadline moves under Paul Holmgren have typically come in the days or weeks before the deadline, so if this trade is coming, it could be coming soon. At the same time, the Flyers haven't really found themselves doing much selling of players under Holmgren, so if the Flyers are looking to deal Meszaros, it may be tough to get a read on how they'll approach this one. Maybe now is the time to sit back and let a few offers come in, or wait until the last second next Wednesday and see what someone serves up. But it looks like there's at least one possible suitor out there in the meantime.