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Holmgren, Flyers Make Deals Before Deadline

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
(February 27) - Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren met with the local media following Tuesday afternoon's NHL trading deadline.

The Flyers made the following moves leading up to the deadline:

Saturday, February 24 - Flyers Acquire Defenseman Braydon Coburn from Atlanta

Monday, February 26 - Flyers Acquire Defenseman Lasse Kukkonen from Chicago

Tuesday, February 27 - Flyers Acquire Goaltender Martin Biron from Buffalo

Tuesday, February 27 - Flyers Claim Forward Denis Hamel on Waivers from Atlanta

Below are excerpts from Holmgren's press conference.

You said this has been taxing on John (Stevens).
PH: "Yes it was. Obviously we want to get a real good look at Marty Biron and see how he does. Robert (Esche) might be the third wheel here for a while. We will just have to see and play it by ear. Like mentioned, Antero's (Niittymaki) hip problem, I don't know that it's a problem right now, it hasn't been, it could be at anytime given the nature of his injury, we know what the end game is, he has to have surgery. It's not an ideal situation but it's something we have talked to John at length a couple times today."

This has to be very hard on (Robert) Esche.
PH: "That is true. Unfortunately that is the nature of the business right now. We need to move forward and try to figure out the best way to be a better team next year."

Why make the Biron move?
PH: "It was a big price to pay for an unrestricted guy and obviously we didn't give up a second round draft pick with the idea of not trying to sign him. It's an opportunity to bring him in, for us to get a little more familiar with him and for him to get a little more familiar with what is going on here. Hopefully he likes the direction we are going and we try to get something done. When I talked to Marty right after we made the trade I said, 'Come in get settled in and we will talk about later on, later on.' And I also spoke with his agent and said the same thing."

Why make the move now?
PH: "He certainly would have been on our list come July 1. This is just an opportunity for us to jump the gun and get our hands on him quicker."

Talk about the fact that he (Biron) is viewed as a backup goaltender in Buffalo.
PH: "We think he is better then a backup."

Does he leapfrog Antero now?
PH: "I wouldn't say that. We still have high hopes for Antero Niittymaki as a goalie. I think this year has been a tough year for him as well as everybody else. He hasn't played as well as he would have liked him to played or as we would have liked to have seen him play. But there are flashes of what we know Antero to be. We still think he is a good young goalie. He's still only 26-years old and a lot of these guys don't really mature until they are 29 or 30 or older sometimes."

On the team getting younger:
PH: "It's certainly going to be interesting to see how some of the younger guys play. I am anxious to see Braydon Coburn play tonight. I feel good about the direction of our hockey club right now. We have added some good pieces for the future of the team. I think some guys that can add to the future right now in Coburn and (Scottie) Upshall coming in. I think things are looking up around here."
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