Flyers trade Talbot to Avalanche and bring back Downie

Max Talbot. (Tom Mihalek/AP file photo)
Max Talbot. (Tom Mihalek/AP file photo)
Posted: November 02, 2013

The Flyers bolstered their sagging offense and weakened their penalty-killing unit Thursday, reacquiring feisty right winger Steve Downie by sending forward Max Talbot to Colorado.

"We needed something to stir the pot," said general manager Paul Holmgren, whose 3-8 team has scored two goals or fewer in 10 of the first 11 games.

Downie, 26, likes to stir things. A physical player, he has been suspended twice in his NHL career, and he is known as one of the league's top agitators. But the Flyers hope he shows more maturity on the ice than he did in his first stint with the team, and he scored 22 goals for Tampa Bay while on its top line with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis in 2009-10.

In 11 games with Colorado this season, Downie had a goal, six assists, and a plus-4 rating while usually playing on the top line with Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly. He has 36 penalty minutes, which entering Thursday was tied for eighth in the NHL, and his eight minors were tied for sixth.

Downie keeps opponents "off balance when he's in control," said Rick Tocchet, who used to coach the forward in Tampa Bay and is now a Flyers analyst for Comcast SportsNet. "He can't take stupid penalties.

"I'm sure Chief will be on top of him for that," he added, referring to Flyers coach Craig Berube by his nickname.

Tocchet said some defensemen are "scared" when Downie is on the ice "because they don't know what he's going to do. . . . He does have that intimidation and he's an underrated passer. He can pass the puck, and he's a very underrated corner guy."

Downie, who played for Berube when he coached the AHL's Phantoms, still plays the game with an edge but says he is more disciplined than the player who broke in with the Flyers in 2007-08.

"I think I've grown as a player and as a person," he said. "I'm excited to show Philly what an older Steve Downie looks like."

Now in his seventh season, Downie said he has "grown with the game. I've learned the game. I know when to pick my spots now."

Downie, the Flyers' first-round pick in 2005 (29th overall), missed 46 of 48 games last season with a torn ACL in his right knee. Early in the 2008-09 season, the Flyers traded him and Steve Eminger to Tampa Bay for Matt Carle.

"I like the hunger and energy he brings," Holmgren said. "I think he'll help us."

Downie may be used on the top line to give Claude Giroux more room. Downie can play either wing - he could replace Michael Raffl on the left side on Giroux's line. "He goes to the front of the net with a purpose and he can really hold onto the puck and make plays," Holmgren said. "Steve's a good player, a better player than maybe people give him credit for."

Talbot, 29, one of the Flyers' top penalty killers, had one goal and one assist this season. He led Flyers forwards with an average of 3 minutes, 35 seconds per game on the penalty kill. Talbot was signed through the end of 2015-16 with a $1.75 million annual salary-cap hit.

Downie, who lost the hearing in his right ear at age 13 and wears a hearing aid, has a $2.65 million cap hit and can become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

"He's been hurt and has had some issues, but there's a hockey player there," said Tocchet, who thinks the contract issue will serve as a motivator for Downie. "I think he's played well for Colorado."

Downie, who sometimes played on current Flyer Vinny Lecavalier's line with Tampa Bay, was suspended for 20 games in 2007 and for one game in 2011.

Tocchet said that when he coached Downie, the winger was sometimes out of control on the ice, "but there was some smooth sailing, too. You have to work with him."

Tocchet added that Downie is the type of player who can win battles in front of the net and "wake your bench up."

In recent years, the Flyers have reacquired numerous players besides Downie, including Ray Emery, Simon Gagne, Ruslan Fedotenko, Mike Knuble, Vinny Prospal, Todd Fedoruk, Brian Boucher, Michael Leighton, Josh Gratton, Mark Greig, Tocchet, Mark Recchi, Chris Therien, and Jim Vandermeer.

Talbot is a "veteran forward who has won a Stanley Cup and has a lot of NHL experience," Colorado general manager Joe Sakic said. "We're looking forward to him bringing that experience to our club."


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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