The offseason chatter surrounding the improvement of the Flyers has focused primarily on goaltending, Mike Richards’ captaincy and potential trade opportunities featuring Jeff Carter.
Yet, while those topics may headline the solutions put forth to avenge their embarrassing second-round playoff exit, there is a more fundamental problem the Flyers need an answer for— where was the fight?
“We got slapped around and that was a little harder to take,” general manager Paul Holmgren said after his team was swept from the playoffs by the Boston Bruins. “I think we have to take a look at some things and see where we are going.”
According to TSN, the Flyers have placed forward Nik Zherdev on waivers.
The move comes three days after Zherdev’s agent Jay Grossman and Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren met in New York on Sunday.
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie on Thursday, the Flyers have placed 30-year-old defenseman Matt Walker on waivers. If he clears, Walker is expected to join the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL.
Walker, acquired in the offseason from the Tampa Bay Lightning as the key return in the Simon Gagne trade, was set to make $1.7 million per season for the next three years. The move could act as a precursor for a roster addition, as Walker’s cap space, matched with the space received from waived goaltender Michael Leighton, gives the Flyers around $3 million of free space.
Joining the Flyers prior to training camp, Walker was hampered with hip injuries which began toward the end of the preseason. The tough blue liner with a right-handed shot needed two separate surgeries on both the left and right hip, which kept him out of the line up for much of the season. Walker played his first game of the year on Jan.18, then played three more after that, before the return of Chris Pronger forced Walker back into a depth position.
Poor Matt Walker.
Nearly two months since having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip, the Flyers defenseman now needs left hip surgery and is expected to miss a minimum of six weeks.
Walker, 30, was participating in a conditioning stint with the Adirondack Phantoms on Sunday before the Flyers, on Monday, unexpectedly placed the seven-year veteran on injured reserve.
Acquired in the trade that sent forward Simon Gagne to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Walker, who hurt his hip in the preseason and underwent surgery on Oct. 20, has yet to play a game with the Flyers.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)
Immediately after trading forward Simon Gagne to the Tampa Bay Lightning for 6’4 depth defenseman Matt Walker, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren attempted to explain his reasoning behind the move.
“When we came out of the Stanley Cup Final loss to the Blackhawks, we had specific objectives in mind,” Holmgren told CSNPhilly.com. “And the No. 1 thing on our list was to improve our defense, and No. 2 on our list was to get a little bigger.”
And he seemingly achieved both this offseason by signing Walker, 6’3 forward Jody Shelley, as well as defensemen Sean O’Donnell and Andrej Meszaros, who both stand at 6’2.
But despite the appearance of greater size and talk from the GM, the truth is in the numbers — the Flyers are no bigger than they were last year.
With sadness but understanding, the wait is mercifully over — the Flyers have officially traded forward Simon Gagne to the Tampa Bay Lightning for defenseman Matt Walker and a fourth round pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft.