Flyers make minor deal for Capitals' Ford

Posted: February 03, 2012

WITH Nashville defensemen Ryan Suter in town last night, and the rumor he could be moved before this month's trade deadline, the stage was set for a deal.

The Flyers did not disappoint, making a move just before the game.

It just wasn't the trade anyone was hoping for - or expecting.

In a head-scratching move, the Flyers dealt promising farmhand defenseman Kevin Marshall to Washington in exchange for minor league winger Matthew Ford.

Ford, 27, has never appeared in an NHL game. An eighth-round pick in 2004, the California native has netted 10 goals and 18 assists with AHL Hershey this season. He collected 42 points over a full season for the AHL's Lake Erie last year.

Ford is expected to report to Adirondack, the Flyers' AHL affiliate, for tonight's game. Marshall, 21, was a 2007 second-round pick who impressed in 10 games with the Flyers this season after Chris Pronger, Erik Gustafsson and Andreas Lilja went down with injuries. He has posted five points with the Phantoms this season and has played more games (185) than anyone else in Adirondack Phantoms history.

Marshall was reportedly caught off-guard by the move.

It's a strange deal for the Flyers, who are trading a still-developing prospect with a legitimate NHL future for a player who has never really made a big impact. Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren was not available for comment last night.

A source close to the situation said Washington inquired about Marshall, who is undoubtedly now on their NHL depth chart, in December and were told by the Flyers he was not available. It is unclear what changed between now and then.

In all likelihood, the Flyers saw a logjam on defense - with Matt Walker and Oskars Bartulis clogging up the depth chart in Adirondack and Blake Kessel, Oliver Lauridsen and Brandon Manning playing well - and concluded they needed to make a move. Ford certainly boosts the Phantoms' low-scoring offense.

Only time will tell, as Marshall progresses, what the move means for the Flyers.

Ford is set to be an unrestricted free agent in July.

"I'll miss Hershey," Ford said on his Twitter account (@Frdy11). "At the same time, I'm excited about my new opportunity in Philly's organization."

By the way, multiple sources told the Daily News that Predators general manager David Poile is expected to publicly address Suter's situation in the coming days and announce that he will not be traded before the Feb. 27 deadline.

Suter scored the Predators' only goal last night.

Lilja back

It had been exactly 3 weeks since Flyers defenseman Andreas Lilja sat out as a healthy scratch before returning to the lineup last night.

The 36-year-old Lilja had been benched for seven straight games.

"It's been tough," Lilja said before last night's game. "Obviously, I came here to play. It's frustrating. But at the same time, you just need to roll with it. You need to stay focused, stay upbeat and be happy. It's not fun, but it's not the end of the world."

Coach Peter Laviolette said Lilja's reinsertion into the lineup had nothing to do with rookie Erik Gustafsson's poor play against Winnipeg on Tuesday night.

"Guys want to play and those decisions have to be made," Laviolette said. "Sometimes, decisions aren't necessarily made on somebody not playing well. It [was] more about we have young players here coming up through the organization and you've got to get them an opportunity as well."

Gustafsson got that opportunity by playing in seven straight after an intensive rehabbing session from wrist surgery. Last night, Lilja took over.

Lilja said the biggest thing that he'd like to change about his game is his conditioning. He has three assists and is a plus-3 through 30 games this season. He has 1 year remaining on his contract at $737,500.

"My game is what my game is, I'm not going to change my game," Lilja said. "We just had a break and I haven't played in 2 1/2 weeks. You need to stay in good shape. People will get hurt. Or people will play bad sometimes. So, things change."

Briere, Hartnell Q & A

Flyers forwards Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell will visit the Philadelphia International Auto Show tonight at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to participate in two back-to-back, question-and-answer sessions from 6 to 8 p.m.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children and available at the door.

Briere, 34, missed his fourth straight game last night with a concussion. Officially, Briere and James van Riemsdyk - out since Jan. 12 - remain sidelined indefinitely. Both players skated in yesterday's pregame practice, though van Riemsdyk left early after only 10 to 15 minutes of skating.

Briere has yet to test his condition with contact drills.

"I felt good today," Briere said. "I was able to push myself fairly hard on the ice at practice, which is a good sign. I really think that I'm close."

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