Don't expect a rush at NHL trade deadline

Wild's Josh Harding is long shot to join Flyers.
Wild's Josh Harding is long shot to join Flyers. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: February 27, 2012

SAN JOSE - When the Flyers' skates hit the ice at HP Pavilion today at noon local time, the final trade calls of the season will be trickling into league headquarters across the country in New York.

You can bet that the NHL Network will have the Flyers' full attention as they gear up in their dressing room in the bowels of the arena, with some players having broken a sweat before even making it to the ice.

And some players in the Flyers' room will look sluggish, having had a restless night of sleep on the eve of hockey's annual Monday holiday.

While some will be on edge until 3 o'clock in the East and late deals are announced, the Flyers don't have much to worry about.

It doesn't appear that the Flyers will be making any major moves on the final day to set rosters before the Stanley Cup playoffs.

According to multiple sources, both inside and outside of the Flyers organization, all was quiet on the Philadelphia trade front. That includes any deal for a superstar like Rick Nash, with whom the Flyers - and many other teams - were smitten when he first publicly hit the market more than 2 weeks ago.

In fact, with so many teams see-sawing between buying and selling, today might go down as one of the most quiet deadline days in the last decade.

For the Flyers, that means living and dying this spring by the hands of Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky.

For months, the Flyers have been rumored to be in the market for a third goaltender, perhaps as an insurance piece should either of the two Russians falter worse than they already have this season. That doesn't seem to be the case.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said last week that he had not given any thought to adding another goalie.

The Flyers are under the belief - at least publicly - that Bryzgalov will screw his head on straight soon and perform as the backstop he's being paid to be. And, besides, which goaltender are the Flyers going to acquire who will make them an odds-on favorite for their first Stanley Cup parade since 1975?

The latest rumors had the Flyers kicking the tires on Minnesota backup Josh Harding. It can be confirmed that there was at least a conversation between Wild GM Chuck Fletcher and Holmgren, yet it was more the Wild pushing Harding instead of the other way around.

Harding, 27, is a pending unrestricted free agent with a decent cap hit ($750,000) and he's clearly going to lose his spot to upstart Matt Hackett next season.

Harding, though curious about Philadelphia, answered the rumors yesterday.

"I've heard a lot of stuff. A lot," Harding told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "I'm from Canada. You know how intense it is on TSN. Right now, I can't control the future. I love it here. I've always been a Minnesota Wild."

It might only take a second- or third-round pick to nab Harding. But a career backup can't possibly be the answer.

As for starters, the Flyers have also been linked to Edmonton's Nikolai Khabibulin, Colorado's J-S Giguere and Winnipeg's Ondrej Pavelec in the rumor mill. Aside from Pavelec, that is a pack of retreads. The Flyers have just as much of a chance with Bryzgalov or Bobrovsky, not to mention the fact that the Flyers can't afford any one of those players.

The only name that might actually make a difference for the Flyers is 36-year-old Evgeni Nabokov ($570,000), who has put together an unbelievable season on Long Island. To this point, though, Holmgren's pal Garth Snow is on the record saying he has "no interest" in trading Nabokov.

Could you imagine the circus if the Flyers were to add another goaltender, let alone another Russian, to the mix? It admits Bryzgalov is a failure in the first year of a 9-year deal. His locker-room impact alone could make last year's playoff carousel seem like a joy ride.

On Saturday in Calgary, in a 2-0 hole in the first 4 minutes with Bryzgalov looking like a sieve, the Flyers won in spite of their goal-tending. They've done that most of the season. Now they're going to have to do it in the playoffs.

Holmgren has made it clear, by adding Nicklas Grossman and Pavel Kubina, that the team has no interest in cashing out for next year. So rather than mortgage any more of the future for another unproven commodity, the Flyers are more apt to roll the dice with the one they already have.

It can't be any more of a gamble than giving a kooky Russian $51 million, can it?

Slap shots

It might not hurt the Flyers to add a gritty, inexpensive fourth-line faceoff specialist . . . The Flyers had a complete day off yesterday, as they traveled from Calgary to San Jose . . . The Sharks didn't arrive back in town until late last night after wrapping up a 15-day, nine-game road swing East with a 4-3 loss in Minnesota. San Jose finished the trip 2-6-1 and fell to second place in the Pacific Division.


Contact Frank Seravalli at 215-854-5825 or seravaf@phillynews.com,

or follow on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.

Read his blog, "Frequent Flyers" at www.philly.com/FrequentFlyers.

 

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