One of the great strengths of the Philadelphia Flyers this season has been their depth on defense. However, the last week has shown that maybe that deep lake has a fairly shallow bottom.
First, last Sunday they lost Sean O'Donnell for what was expected to be 10-14 days with a left knee injury. However, that injury turned out not to be as serious as feared, and he was ready to play Thursday. That worked perfectly, as Tuesday's game against Phoenix saw Oskars Bartulis -- who's spent the season as the spare defenseman -- likely have his season ended on a late hit by Phoenix's Scottie Upshall. Bartulis is expected to have surgery on his shoulder soon, and miss 10-12 weeks.
Then on Thursday, Chris Pronger missed the last seven minutes of regulation and all of overtime against the Islanders after he was hit in the right hand by a shot. After the game Pronger and GM Paul Holmgren said X-rays revealed no fractures and Pronger was expected to play Saturday. On Friday, however, Pronger skipped practice and the Flyers called up rookie Erik Gustafsson as an insurance policy.
All that being said, does this mean the Flyers could be in the market for a spare defenseman prior to Monday's trade deadline?
The Philadelphia Daily News reported Thursday that Holmgren and Avalanche GM Greg Sherman had spoken regarding Avs captain Adam Foote, but he's currently out with a torn quad muscle.
Another candidate could be Sabres captain Craig Rivet, who recently went on waivers.
Holmgren said he had no intention of trading anyone currently on his roster to fill a need on defense, and said there were in-house candidates he felt comfortable using, including Matt Walker -- currently recovering from knee surgery that's not expected to keep him out too long -- minor-league veteran Danny Syvret and rookies Gustafsson and Kevin Marshall.
"Matt Walker won't be out that long," Holmgren told reporters Thursday, prior to Pronger's injury. "We like Gustafsson, we like Syvret, we like Marshall, but they're all young guys. Will I explore it? Probably listen around, look around, but I don't feel like trading anyone off our team to do anything like that."
Could he feel differently if Pronger is out for any length of time? We'll know more by Monday.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK