After failing to land Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Rick Nash, and Shea Weber, and losing Jaromir Jagr and Matt Carle, this off-season has definitely been a frustrating one for the Flyers. Unfortunately, the bad news just keeps rolling in.
On Tuesday, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren released a statement that informed us that Andrej Meszaros will be out indefinitely. The 26 year-old defenseman has a torn right achilles tendon, which Holmgren and the Flyers have been aware of for a week prior to the announcement.
Meszaros underwent surgery on Tuesday at Jefferson University Hospital and now, the recovery process, which may be a very long one, begins.
Previous players with this injury, such as Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, needed eight months to return to the lineup. Travis Zajac of the Devils returned after thirty games, injured it again, and missed another thirty-seven.
Now, many will look at Paul Holmgren and wonder what plan is in the making to replace Meszaros, who could miss the entire season. Reality is, that replacement may already be on the Flyers roster.
Holmgren stated (via philly.com): “We have a lot of young guys we really like and we have four who have a lot of experience, so we’ll see how it goes.”
He mentioned that both Marc-Andre Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson played a lot of games for Flyers last year, and that Brandon Manning “got his feet wet”.
Although the loss of Andrej Meszaros for the Flyers is definitely a great one, it will give some of the younger guys a chance to step up. One of Bourdon, who played in 45 games, or Gustafsson, who played in 30 games, could end up becoming a regular in that sixth defenseman spot.
Even 22 year-old Brandon Manning, who played just four games for the Flyers last season, may get an opportunity to play a few more games.
With the injury of Meszaros, and assuming that Holmgren doesn’t add a defenseman via free agency or trade, newly acquired Luke Schenn will likely end up on the second defense pairing.
That will be a phenomenal experience for the 22 year-old blue-liner, who was sent to Philadelphia by Toronto in exchange for James van Riemsdyk. Schenn is a right-handed shot on the point and always is among the league leaders in hits. He has a ton of upside, and the injury of Meszaros should help his development.
Bruno Gervais, who was signed by the Flyers as a free agent this off-season to a 2-year deal worth $1.65 million, should now be guaranteed the fifth defenseman spot.
Paul Holmgren could take another route and attempt to improve his defense via free agency or trade.
Amongst the remaining unrestricted free agent defensemen are Carlo Colaiacovo and Michal Rozsival. Not many options remain on the free agent market, but it is possible that the Flyers could add one of those guys as a cheap replacement.
The Flyers could turn to the trade market to solve their defensive gap. Keith Yandle, Dan Boyle, and Zach Bogosian are all names of guys they could go after. However, the price would most likely be pretty steep. Teams will ask for young talent from the Flyers (Couturier, Schenn) and Holmgren isn’t going to budge.
Holmgren could also send an offer sheet to a restricted free agent such as Michael Del Zotto, P.K. Subban, or John Carlson. At this point, however, that route seems pretty unrealistic.
In my opinion, Holmgren is going to turn to the young guys already on the roster to fill the hole. This is a phenomenal opportunity for a player like Marc-Andre Bourdon, Erik Gustafsson, or Brandon Manning to step up and shine.
The Flyers and their fans wish Andrej Meszaros the best and are hoping for the best as he recovers.
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