It seems like the walls have started crashing around the Flyers defense. Pronger hurt. Carle leaves. The missed Weber signing. And now Meszaros gone for the season. No matter how much Homer says he’s optimistic and tells his tale of Justin Williams miraculous recovery I highly doubt Mesz is back before the playoffs. The playoffs are also no guarantee. One setback with this type of injury can put you back a long ways. Just ask Ryan Howard. The bottom line is 1 of 2 things is going to happen – 1) a trade is coming. And since Homer said he’s satisfied with the team I would put my money on that a trade or free agent signing is going down. 2) A couple rookie defensemen such as Gustafsson, Bourdon or possibly Manning will have to step up in a big way. The 3rd pairing is absolutely wide open right now. Nobody’s name is locked in. Besides those 3 previously mentioned you can throw Bruno Gervais and Oliver Lauridsen in the mix as well for a 3rd pairing role.
If Homer is indeed going to make a move via trade I believe he needs to look to the West. San Jose has quite a few defensemen that may be available in exchange for some offensive depth. The Sharks defensive depth contains the likes of Dan Boyle, Brent Burns, Jason Demers, Douglas Murray and Marc Edouard “Pickles” Vlasic. Flyers writer Tim Panacchio has suggested before that the Flyers look at Dan Boyle. I agree with him in that he would be a huge upgrade. It would really help our D get closer to being what it was before Pronger went out. When Meszaros gets healthy and you have him and Boyle in the line-up at the same time that is a solid defensive squad. Boyle will cost quite a bit trade wise and is also a $6.6 million per year cap hit, but I believe he can be had without giving up Schenn or Couturier. Boyle has 2 years left on his current deal and given that he is 36 years old that is not a bad deal as they only have to pay that hefty salary for 2 years and then, if he decided to keep playing and the Flyers were interested, could negotiate a one year deal for a cheap price and go from there. Boyle would replace Mesz’s point production with no problem. He is good for 50 points a season easily. It’s a possibility. It is a short term solution, but a good one for the time being.
Douglas Murray is another option although he will not replace the offense Mesz brought to the team. Murray is an under 20 point producer, but good defensively. He can be used on the powerplay and penalty kill and is a little younger than Boyle. Murray is also considerably cheaper than Boyle. He has a salary cap hit of just $2.5 million per year. He is a tough sell to replace Mesz, but he carries just a 1 year deal also so he could be brought on for just this year.
I can’t see any of the other Shark defensemen being moved as Burns is just 1 year in on a new deal and they just traded for him a year ago and Demers is young defensive talent. Vlasic also just signed a new deal last month so I’m sure the Sharks are not interested in getting rid of him. Everybody has a price, but it would be a high one, that Homer is not willing to pay, for any of them.