This afternoon the Philadelphia Flyers reported that defenseman Kimmo Timonen has been diagnosed with blood clots in his right leg and both of his lungs.
First and foremost, we here at Broad Street Buzz want to wish Kimmo the best. He has been a warrior for this organization for years and as much as we would all love to see him on the ice, this is bigger than hockey. Kimmo (and his family) will be in our thoughts and prayers.
In his interview this afternoon, Flyers GM Ron Hextall said that he does not expect to see Kimmo Timonen in training camp. He also hinted that the Flyers may be looking to sign or trade for a defenseman.
There are no UFA defensemen on the table who can replace all that Timonen does, but there are some trade options. Either way, Hextall does not want to rush any of the Flyers prospects into the NHL. Here are some options for Hextall as he confronts this situation:
The 25 year old right handed defenseman was on the worst team in the NHL last year, the Buffalo Sabres. He put up very average numbers, 6 goals and 11 assists in 69 games. He averaged 20:09 per game, but almost three of those minutes were on the power play. He had a negative CF% rel while playing on the worst possession team in the NHL, but he was straddled with horrifying zone starts. All in all, McBain would be a serviceable 3rd pairing defenseman.
Michael Del Zotto
The once promising 24 year old has seen his stock plummet over the last couple years. He had an impressive 2011-2012 season, earning 41 points (10G, 31A) and averaging over 22 minutes per game. Del Zotto will bring very little in terms of defensive acumen, but he has plenty of offensive skill. Would he fit in Berube’s system? It’s doubtful, but he may be worth a shot.
The 39 year old defenseman has more size than anyone on this list at 6’3″, 215lbs. He earned 17 points last season (4G, 13A) while also putting up decent possession numbers. Salo is right handed and could be a serviceable bottom four defenseman. He was a solid member of a good team last season (Lightning), but his age will also be a question mark.
Ultimately, every UFA option is a band-aid. The player may help the Flyers be a respectable team next year, but nothing more. So let’s look at a couple of trade targets.
The Coyotes have plenty of NHL-ready defense prospects who could step into the place of Keith Yandle. Yandle has been an All-Star defenseman for the past few seasons, but has recently been eclipsed by a phenom on his own team, Oliver Ekman-Larsson. What would the Yotes want for Yandle? Likely Brayden Schenn++ or Matt Read++, maybe more. It is not ideal, but Keith Yandle is worth a lot. He would fit nicely next to Braydon Coburn and give the Flyers a little more breathing room to develop their prospects.
Coyotes bloggers have already speculated that he will be traded this off-season for offensive help. The Flyers and Coyotes look like ideal trading partners at this point.
Dustin Byfuglien is not happy in Winnipeg, and many in Winnipeg are not happy with Dustin Byfuglien. He has been told by the Winnipeg brass that he will start next season as a winger, despite the fact that he wants to be a defenseman. Byfuglien is a top pair defenseman, when used in that role. He is on a manageable contract and the Jets need help at center. The cost would likely be the same as that of Yandle. Both players would step in and be the Flyers best defenseman.
A prerequisite to this deal happening would be a willingness by Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to actually make a move. He has been VERY quiet this offseason and may not be in a trading mood.
The Flyers are in a tough spot. When a team loses a player that is as valuable as Timonen, there is rarely an easy solution. Keep an eye on Hextall, he should be busy.