Flyers have big gap to plug
Chris Stevenson, QMI Agency
With the definitive statement they have lost top defenceman Chris Pronger for the rest of the season because of a concussion, the Philadelphia Flyers need to make a move to try to plug some of his minutes.
You won't find one player to do everything Pronger can do for your team, so the best bet at this point in the season is to get a guy who can do at least half the job, at one end of the rink or the other.
The Flyers played with basically four defencemen Thursday night in Montreal, with rookies Marc-Andre Bourdon and Kevin Marshall combining for just about 15 minutes of ice time against the Canadiens. Rookie Erik Gustafsson, who had been playing 18 minutes a game before being injured, is due back soon, which will help.
As far as veteran help goes, there are some targets out there.
In Carolina, both Tim Gleason and Bryan Allen will be unrestricted free agents and the feeling south of the Mason-Dixon Line is there is little chance the Hurricanes will re-sign them, particularly Gleason. He'd at least give the Flyers some of the snarl they will miss in Pronger's absence.
HEAR AND THERE: It's always interesting how teams make a move anticipating one thing and wind up better off because something else happens. The New Jersey Devils traded Tom Kurvers to Toronto for the Maple Leafs' top pick in 1991 hoping to get a shot at Eric Lindros. They wound up with Scott Niedermayer with the third pick. Four Stanley Cups later, his No. 27 was to be retired by the Devils Friday night. Oh, yeah, Pat Falloon was taken second overall by the San Jose Sharks ... Speaking of the Devils, they are one of four teams with 33 points hanging around the seventh to 10th spots in the Eastern Conference despite the fact they have won just eight of 30 games in regulation time. They are 7-1 in shootouts this season. Devils coach Pete DeBoer figures his club has had to go past the third shooter only "once or twice." His top three are Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Patrik Elias. Parise is first in the NHL having scored on six of eight attempts, Kovalchuk is second with five of six and Elias seventh with three goals on five attempts. Guessing they've had some pretty good goaltending, too.
THE BUZZ: Talk in Buffalo is the Sabres would trade Derek Roy and Drew Stafford if they can find takers ... Tampa forward Martin St. Louis worked out off-ice Friday for the first time since getting hit in the left eye with a puck in practice. He got the OK after a blood clot in the eye cleared up. He will have to wear a cage and then put on a visor when he returns ... I figured playing in the MTS Centre would be worth a few points for the old Thrashers, but it has probably been better than expected. Only three teams had fewer wins on home ice than the Thrashers last season. This year, as the Jets, only two teams have more.
JUST SAYING: The amount of speculation and attention paid to Coyotes forward Kyle Turris is kind of out of whack with what his worth is right now, isn't it? He's a former first-round pick, OK, but what has he done other than throw up a red flag with the way his whole negotiation with the Coyotes on a new deal went down? Then again, he does have 19 NHL goals (sarcasm) ... Pretty remarkable what the Flyers have done when you consider they have used 10 rookies this season, the most in the league ... Also along that vein: The Minnesota Wild is battling for top spot in the NHL despite having used a league-high 32 players this season. The Houston Aeros, its AHL affiliate, are fighting for top spot despite being ravaged by callups. Talk about organizational depth.
JUST WONDERING: Can you see a scenario where the Anaheim Ducks are in last place in the Western Conference -- maybe the NHL -- getting close to the trade deadline and the Winnipeg Jets are battling for a playoff spot in the East? Of course you can. So, the Ducks trade Selanne back to the Jets for the Winnipeg playoff run. What a potentially spectacular finish to his career, back where it started. Maybe the Jets could find Oleg Tverdovsky and trade him back.
THE LAST WORD: Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster returned to Tampa and, as you might expect, had little good to say about the former ownership of Oren Koules and Len Barrie, who got rid of Feaster when they took over the Lightning in 2008. "What the people inside the organization went through, I don't wish that on my worst enemy," Feaster said. "That's what for me was the toughest part, seeing what it did to the people. To have good people running this thing, I'm thrilled for the fans, for the players and, most importantly, for the staff." I guess bashing "The Cowboys," as former Bolts coach John Tortorella dubbed them, is never going to get old for some people.