Everyone watching the Philadelphia Flyers and Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday could see it. The Flyers stopped skating in the third period. They were slow, they were lazy, and their eventual defeat had a feeling of inevitability. General Manager Paul Holmgren gave his players a chance to dig themselves out of the hole they had created this season. He fired Head Coach Peter Laviolette after three games, but has not made a significant player move since then. With a week-long break after going 1-7, the Flyers did not make a single trade. On Thursday afternoon, Holmgren had enough. The Flyers dealt forward Max Talbot to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forward Steve Downie.
Downie, 26, was the 29th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft by the Flyers. He stayed with Philadelphia until the 2008-2009 season when he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning mid-season in the deal that brought Matt Carle to Philadelphia. He stayed in Tampa Bay, where he played with current Flyer Vincent Lecavalier, until the 2011-2012 season when he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche. After missing most of last season due to injury, Downie has one goal and six assists in 11 games this season. His point total, seven, ties him with Lecavalier as the Flyers’ top scorer.
Max Talbot, 29, signed a five year deal with Philadelphia in the summer of 2011 and has been a solid 3rd-4th line player for the Flyers ever since. Talbot played on the penalty kill with Claude Giroux and skated on the top line during the third period of close games this season. Talbot is a player who brings grit and leadership to the line-up and will be missed in the Flyers locker room. He did not, however, bring a lot of offensive ability to the club.
This trade is good for the Flyers. Downie has the versatility to play wing on any of the top three lines. His only season in which he scored 20 goals was spent with the Lightning, so one cannot help but suspect that Downie could take Michael Raffl’s spot on the top line with Giroux and Lecavalier. Although Raffl has been a solid player, there is no denying that Downie brings more offensive upside than Raffl does. That is not a knock on Raffl, who can be placed on any of the Flyers four lines and fulfill his role. Another reason why this trade is good for Philly is because Downie brings more offense than Talbot did. Although Downie is an impending UFA and his salary is $900K more than that of Talbot, I still believe this is a positive move for the Flyers. Downie will bring energy, grit, and skill. He will wear the jersey number 9 and will be in the Flyers line-up Friday night against the Washington Capitals.
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