Report Card for Philadelphia Flyers' 2014 Trade Deadline Decisions

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Report Card for Philadelphia Flyers' 2014 Trade Deadline Decisions
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Report Card for Completed Trades: B-

In all, it was a relatively uneventful trade deadline for the Philadelphia Flyers.

On Tuesday, the Orange and Black acquired 27-year-old defenseman Andrew MacDonald from the New York Islanders in exchange for Philly's third-round pick this summer, its second-round selection next year and forward prospect Matt Mangene.

The Flyers then grabbed a third-round selection back on Wednesday when the club shipped 28-year-old blueliner and pending unrestricted free agent Andrej Meszaros to the Boston Bruins.

Philadelphia wanted to bolster its back end in advance of its final 20 games of the regular season and did just that with the addition of MacDonald.

A 6'0", 185-pound defender, MacDonald is in the midst of a breakout season having already compiled four goals and 24 points in 63 games. His minus-19 rating is a bit worrisome but is made slightly more palpable when one remembers the Islanders currently boast the third-worst goal differential in the Eastern Conference and fifth-worst differential in the entire NHL.

Considerably more encouraging is MacDonald's league-leading 198 blocked shots.

Not only does the Nova Scotia native lead all NHLers in that department but he does so by a wide margin. Entering Wednesday's action, Montreal's Dan Gorges was second in the league with 171 blocked shots. In fact, since 2010, only Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers has more blocked shots (675) than MacDonald (666).

He adds depth, mobility and a steadying defensive presence to a Flyers' blue line in need of all three.

But MacDonald didn't come cheap.

Philadelphia had to part with a pair of draft picks, including a second-round selection in 2015, along with Mangene to secure what is, at least for now, a rental player.

Still, it appears the Flyers secured the strongest of the defenders to be moved at the deadline.

The Rangers nabbed 28-year-old Raphael Diaz (one goal, 13 points in 52 games this year) from the Vancouver Canucks while the Columbus Blue Jackets plucked 31-year-old Nick Schultz (four assists in 60 games) from the Edmonton Oilers just in advance of the deadline. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks shelled out a third-round pick of their own on Tuesday to secure 37-year-old veteran Stephane Robidas.

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According to MacDonald, he's happy to be a Flyer and is open to resigning with the club. If the Orange and Black can lock him in at a reasonable cap hit for the next few years then this will have seemed like a small price to pay to bring him to Philadelphia.

With MacDonald in the fold, it created quite the logjam on defense for the Flyers leading to the not-so-surprising trade of Meszaros to the Bruins.

Boston and Philadelphia have seemed like suitable trade partners ever since Dennis Seidenberg's season was ruled over after a torn MCL and ACL in late December.

Philly's clutter of defensemen coupled with Meszaros serving as a healthy scratch at various points this season and his status as a pending unrestricted free agent softened his value significantly, so GM Paul Holmgren did about as well as he could retrieving a third-round pick for the Slovakian defender.

With all the defensemen the Flyers have both on their current roster and in the pipeline, it's extremely unlikely the Orange and Black had any intention of re-signing Meszaros at season's end so it was necessary to get at least something now before he left for nothing through free agency over the summer.

 

Report Card for Uncompleted Trades: A-

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It's extremely tempting to want to try and add a talent like Ryan Kesler at the deadline.

The Flyers allegedly even tabled a "substantial offer" in an attempt to pry Kesler away from Vancouver.

And whether the Orange and Black were ever seriously interested in the two-time Olympian or were simply looking to drive up the asking price for other interested parties, chiefly the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia was right to simply walk away.

Kesler is a phenomenal talent. He's a proven goal scorer who is still one of the top two-way forwards in the game today. He's a fierce competitor who would enhance any team's playoff aspirations.

But the asking price was simply too high.

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Using Pittsburgh's reported offer (Brandon Sutter, Simon Despres and a first-round pick) as a template, the Flyers would have likely needed to part with one of their two blossoming centers (Brayden Schenn or Sean Couturier), a top offensive prospect (Scott Laughton) and Philly's first-round pick to put Kesler in a Flyers jersey.

That's simply too much even for a player of Kesler's caliber who would still be under team control for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons at a reasonable $5 million cap hit.

Philadelphia finally appears to be building from within and a franchise-altering exchange like this would have been completely antithetical to the team's approach in recent years. What's more, how could the Flyers part with their first-round selection in the 2014 NHL draft when the draft is to be held in the City of Brotherly Love?

Acquiring Kesler would have been a sexy addition on a day littered with marquee names landing in new destinations but wouldn't have served the Flyers' needs long term. Kudos to Holmgren & Co., who have been known to reach for big names in the past, for knowing when to stand pat. 

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