Flyers GM doesn't see big trade before deadline

Posted: February 26, 2014

HOURS AFTER the Olympic torch in Sochi was stifled on Sunday, the NHL lifted its 16-day roster freeze - despite the fact that quite a few of its players were scrambling back to North America for the season to re-start tonight.

The Flyers, who return to action on Thursday night against visiting San Jose, will play just three games before next Wednesday's trade deadline.

Yet, if you're hoping for a major transaction to bolster the Flyers into a Stanley Cup contender, general manager Paul Holmgren warned to not hold your breath.

"I don't foresee anything major happening," Holmgren said. "I'm sure there's going to be some guys available. Whether there's going to be some guys who can improve our team, that is the question."

For the first time ever, the NHL's salary cap decreased last summer to $64.3 million. As a result, 12 of the league's 30 teams are currently projected to finish within $357,000 of the hard limit or are expected to slide slightly over with the help of long-term injury exceptions.

Couple that with the fact that 25 teams are within four points of a playoff berth, and, well, you can see there isn't a lot of room to maneuver before the March 5 deadline at 3 o'clock.

"This year, it might even be magnified a little bit, because particularly in our conference how close it is," Holmgren said. "There's a lot of teams in the fight here.

"I've had some conversations with guys. But there was a lot of [GMs] over in Russia that were difficult to get ahold of; they had to use different cell phones. I think [talks] will pick up."

Historically, Holmgren has not made many deals at the deadline, choosing to swap players in the week or two prior when prices are cheaper. Last year, he acquired Steve Mason from Columbus in exchange for Michael Leighton and a third-round pick.

This year, fans are clamoring for the Flyers to help their defense. Names like Dallas' Trevor Daley have surfaced, but Holmgren said yesterday that while he is always looking to improve his team, he is content as is.

"I like the way our defense has played. I know it's not a sexy defense," Holmgren said. "Is there a 'Bobby Orr' out there we can get? Probably not. I think our defense has played pretty good overall. Could we improve? I don't know."

According to Sports Business Journal, which combed through the midseason NHL television ratings from Nielsen, the Flyers are averaging just 56,000 households per telecast this season on Comcast SportsNet. That number is down from 100,000 at this time last year.

Chicago (159,000) and Boston (123,000) are the only two NHL franchises that average more than 100,000 households locally per telecast. The Rangers (93,000), Penguins (91,000) and Red Wings (63,000) round out the top five. Columbus averages a measly 6,000 households per telecast, worst in the league.

When compensating for market size, the Devils, Ducks, Panthers, Kings and Islanders garner the worst ratings share in the NHL even though Anaheim and Los Angeles have two of the best teams in hockey.

Paul Holmgren said bronze-medal winner Kimmo Timonen has returned home from Sochi and suspects Timonen will be at the rink today for practice. League rules dictate players returning from the Olympics must have a minimum of 3 days off, though players can return before that if they choose . . . Holmgren said Flyers goaltending prospect Anthony Stolarz has returned to practice in London (OHL) after sustaining a serious skate cut that required 55 stitches to close on Jan. 17.

On Twitter: @DNFlyers


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