Doubts on Flyers defensemen Nicklas Grossmann, Andrej Meszaros

Posted: April 30, 2013

TWO KEY FLYERS defensemen face an offseason of doubt, as both Nicklas Grossmann and Andrej Meszaros try to bounce back from serious injuries.

Meszaros is perhaps the biggest question mark moving forward, as he has played just 73 games over the last 18 months.

Meszaros was at the Skate Zone on Sunday to conduct his exit interview and he was seen wearing a shoulder immobilizing device. He is 3 weeks removed from a surgery that both repaired and strengthened his left shoulder - something he injured on two separate occasions in this 48-game season.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren put to rest any concerns that Meszaros might not be physically capable of continuing an NHL career. His 27-year-old body has betrayed him often since joining the Flyers in 2010.

"I don't think there's any issues there," Holmgren said. "He's had 18 months of bad luck, in my opinion. I don't know how you defend against a ruptured Achilles' tendon, his [herniated disc] back problem or this recent shoulder injury.

"Andrej is a big, strong guy. He's coming along fine. He puts the work in. He's a hard-working kid and I think he's tough as nails. I have no issues or worries that he'll bounce back."

Meszaros was the Flyers' Barry Ashbee Trophy winner in 2010-11, his first year with the team. He has 1 more year left on his deal at $4 million. There also have been concerns voiced about whether Meszaros has been playing in fear of reinjury when he has been back on the ice. He played just 11 games this season between injuries.

"I think we would all probably feel that way, given what he's been through," Holmgren said. "I think he just needs a good summer. And we do have lots of time. We have 4 months before we get back to work. He'll be fine."

Grossmann, 28, missed the final 18 games of the season with a concussion. He's due to visit Dr. Micky Collins at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on May 6, according to Holmgren, along with fellow concussed defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon.

Grossmann has been wearing glasses and his head trauma has wreaked havoc on his vestibular (balance) system. Like Meszaros, Grossmann has missed a fair amount of time since joining the Flyers. He has played in just 61 of a possible 89 games (69 percent) since being acquired via trade with Dallas in 2012. Grossmann just finished the first of a 4-year, $16 million deal with the Flyers.

"It's safe to say he's doing better but not 100 percent," Holmgren said. "Vestibular rehab is what he continues to do. Any rapid movement creates balance issues for him. Nicklas today said he's coming along nicely, he would have liked to play at the end but needed a little more time."

Bonus hockey

At least eight Flyers will represent their respective countries in the upcoming World Championships. The tournament will take place May 3-19 in Finland and Sweden.

Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read and Luke Schenn have accepted Steve Yzerman's invitation to join Team Canada. Schenn won a silver medal in 2009 in Switzerland; Giroux and Simmonds won a gold medal at the junior level in 2008. Read has never worn a Canadian jersey.

Jake Voracek (Czech Republic), Oliver Lauridsen (Denmark) and Phantoms forward Marcel Noebels (Germany) will also play. Phantoms goaltender Cal Heeter will back up Lightning starter Ben Bishop for the Americans. Erik Gustafsson (Sweden) also remains on his team's radar. This is the first time since 2007 that any Flyers will participate in the World Championships.

"It's a good experience," Giroux said. "You put that Canadian flag on your jersey, it's going to be nice. Any time you play for your country, it's obviously a pretty big honor."

Slap shots

Paul Holmgren said there were probably "six or more" players in June's draft who could make an immediate NHL impact next season. The NHL draft lottery is tonight. The Flyers have a 1.5 percent chance to win the No. 1 overall pick. There is a 96.1 percent probability the Flyers will draft at No. 11 and a 2.4 percent shot that they slide to No. 12 if someone below them wins the lottery . . . The Flyers' unrestricted free agents: Simon Gagne, Adam Hall, Kent Huskins, Ruslan Fedotenko, Mike Knuble, Kurtis Foster and Jody Shelley. Veteran good guys Shelley and Knuble are both unlikely to see NHL action again in their careers . . . Claude Giroux can be re-signed to a long-term extension as early as July 5, the first day he begins the final year of his 3-year, $11.25 million deal.

On Twitter: @DNFlyers


comments powered by Disqus