The Flyers’ biggest move of the NHL trade deadline came not in the way of a trade, but with an exchange of seventh defensemen made on waivers. The Flyers picked up Ottawa’s Johnny Oduya, shortly before finding out that they’d lost defenseman Mark Alt to the Colorado Avalanche.
Ron Hextall announced a few other moves, and gave his thoughts on his team’s relative inaction at the deadline, in a press conference around 3:15 this afternoon. Video of this press conference can be found here.
We’ll first go through the moves that Hextall announced the team has made — some paper transactions, some roster moves — that hadn’t been reported prior to this media availability. Those moves are:
- Oskar Lindblom was temporarily demoted from and then returned to the Flyers. This allows him to be eligible for the AHL playoffs, if the Flyers wish to have him there. Since the demotion took place prior to the 3:00 p.m. trade deadline and the recall took place after said deadline, Lindblom’s recall counts as one of the Flyers’ four post-deadline recalls. (After the trade deadline, roster limits are lifted, but each team is only allowed four non-emergency recalls from their AHL team.) This means that they have three recalls remaining.
- Alex Lyon was also temporarily demoted and recalled. Like Lindblom, this was done to ensure Lyon’s eligibility for the Calder Cup playoffs, where he will likely be the Phantoms’ starting goalie. However, unlike with Lindblom, the Flyers’ recall of Lyon does not count as one of the team’s post-deadline recalls. Since the Flyers have goalies on injured reserve, the team could claim that Lyon’s recall was done under emergency conditions, meaning that they are calling him up simply to make sure they can ice a full roster. This is a way for them to get around the four-recall rule, though it does mean that Lyon will have to be sent down as soon as one of Brian Elliott or Michal Neuvirth gets healthy.
- Matt Read was called up to the Flyers. Read, a long-time Flyer who has been with the Phantoms for most of the year, was called up prior to the deadline, meaning his recall also does not count as one of the team’s post-deadline recalls. Read will likely be in the press box, though he could push the likes of Dale Weise or Jori Lehtera for time on the fourth line.
Hextall was not asked about (and did not comment on) the team’s reported signing of AHL goalie John Muse.
Other thoughts from Hextall
With it being the trade deadline, and generally an eventful time for the Flyers in general thanks to moves recently made, Hextall answered a few other questions about deals out there, deals that weren’t made, and the team in general. Beyond general GM cliches about only making the right deal for the right player at the right price, there were some other noteworthy insights during Hextall’s 17-minute availability. Those include:
- Hextall admitted that this was “probably the first year” of his tenure where buying at the deadline was really much of an option. After going through the guys mentioned in the next couple of bullet points, he said that the guys he’d be going to have to be “better than some of the guys in Lehigh”, and had to be available for the right prices, which they weren’t.
- He says that “on defense, we were a little bit concerned about our depth”, and mentions both Oduya and Travis Sanheim (who has “played extremely well in Lehigh Valley”) as guys who improve their defensive depth as a team. Clearly, the team sees Oduya as an improvement on Alt (reasonably so). Hextall even said that they claimed Oduya before knowing that Alt would be claimed by Colorado. Up front, Hextall called Lindblom someone who’s “done a nice job for us”.
- Hextall declined to say whether Sanheim is ahead of Oduya on the team’s organizational depth chart, stressing that the decision of who to call up in the event of an injury is “a fit thing”.
- Hextall bristled at a question that posited that Oduya was “supposedly struggling” in Ottawa this year. He mentioned that Ottawa is a “tough situation right now” for players, which is fair.
- Hextall hinted that they expect Elliott to be back on the ice in “another week or so”, but that it’ll be a couple of weeks after that before he can be expected to play again.
- The fire alarm went off for a minute or so in the middle of the press conference.
- Asked by BSH Radio’s own Charlie O’Connor on whether he thought Lindblom has done enough to stick with the NHL team when Wayne Simmonds returns from injury, Hextall simply said that “he’s got to continue to play well”. “If another player comes up because we have an injury, and he plays real well, is helping our team, then you end up keeping him longer and see how it plays out.” He later mentioned, in response to the last question of the session, that he felt that “we got better right now with Oskar”.
All in all, those saying that they didn’t want Hextall to go out and buy at the deadline because what was available wasn’t so much better than the guys the Flyers had available to the Phantoms seem to be in line with the thought process of the team’s general manager. The moves apparently weren’t there to be made at a sensible price point for the Flyers.
Of course, standing pat at the deadline, saying that possible rentals weren’t really much better than guys that the Flyers have at the AHL level, and then proceeding to not call those guys up (with the exception of Lindblom, who was called up due to injury) is surely going to leave a sour taste in some fans’ mouths. It sounded, from what Hextall said, like the team only really wants to call up a young guy in the event of an injury, even though they know that they can possibly upgrade their lineup by calling them up before injury strikes. We’ll have to see if any more roster changes are made over the season’s final six weeks, as players start getting healthy and the fight for playoff positioning continues.