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Holmgren talks about the trade

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren held a conference call with the local media on Monday regarding the acquisition of defenseman Matt Walker and a fourth round draft pick in 2011 from Tampa Bay in exchange for long-time Flyers forward Simon Gagne. Below is a transcript of that conference call.

Holmgren also met with the local television stations. To view his media availability, click here.

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Q: How hard was it to trade Simon Gagne?
Paul Holmgren: “Well, anytime you’re talking about a young man that has brought as much to the organization that Simon has, it’s very difficult.”
Q: You have eight defensemen. Are you a little overloaded there or does this set up another move?
Washington Capitals' Alexander Semin battles for the puck with Tampa Bay Lightning's Matt Walker during the second period of a 3-1 Washington win in an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 20, 2010, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

PH: “No, I think having eight defensemen is a luxury, but we certainly feel comfortable right now and moving forward with the team. Whether something else comes up over the course of the summer, we’ll see. If something comes up that makes sense, obviously we’ll look at that, but I think we were very fortunate last year. Our top four defensemen, over the course of the 105 games we played, I think they missed three games among the four of them. I’m not sure we can count on being that fortunate again, so we certainly believe we’ve upgraded our defense, not only in numbers, but in ability to play the game.”
Q: The moves you made on defense have more been for guys who are either stay-at-home type, or more tenacious, physical types rather than offensive defensemen, which you already had. Is that something that you felt was missing last year that you really needed to upgrade?
PH: “I agree with part of that, but I think the addition of Andrej Meszaros, he’s been a top four defensemen his entire career in the NHL, which spans four-five years and we feel he’ll put up big numbers and a player that can play in a Top 4 role. Adding Matt Walker and adding Sean O’Donnell, I think is more in line with the question you raised there, but those guys are certainly more stay-at-home, defensive, physical guys. But, Meszaros is a guy that we think will help in the offensive end that will put up numbers.”
Q: What did you see in Matt Walker?
PH: “We like the way Matt plays. He’s a character [and] intense player. He plays physical. He’s a stay-at-home guy that is a good penalty killer, and on our team, he can buy us dirty minutes and not be a liability, but be a positive force and help and defend our own zone.”
Q: With Simon gone, do you feel like there are some deficiencies on offense? Do you feel like you have to make a move on the offensive side?
PH: “I don’t know. Right now I would say, no, I don’t feel like we have to make a move. Simon scored 17 goals for us last year and we were third in the conference in goals.

“I think a couple other players, Scott Hartnell is one, had a down year numbers-wise. The blossoming of Claude Giroux, we certainly look for more from James van Riemsdyk next year, and the addition of [Nik] Zherdev, I think we’re okay up front. In terms of the ability to score goals, it’s just going to come down to whether the players do it or not. But, we were third in the conference last year with a lot of guys having, what I would say, off-years in the goal-scoring department.”
Q: With seven veteran guys, and then Oskars [Bartulis], who I know you like a lot, do you expect a competition for that regular sixth spot to be pretty fierce in training camp?
PH: “Well, it should be. They all want to play. They all want play their minutes. I’m excited to see how it all plays out. Obviously, we have training camp coming up in September. We have a lot of preseason games to play before we actually get into the meat and potatoes of seeing who fits where. The Top 4 guys coming back are there and we’ve added three guys that I think can really, really help our team, and you’ve mentioned Oskars; a guy that we really like and he’s a young kid that’s up and coming.”
Q: On the team in general:
PH: “I think we’re in a good position where we can just sit back and see what happens, but I like our team right now. When we came out of the Stanley Cup Final loss to the Blackhawks, we had specific objectives in mind and the #1 thing on our list was to improve our defense, and #2 on our list was to get a little bigger and #3 on our list was to look for some more goals up front. Trading away Simon Gagne today makes you think about #3, but we did add [Nik] Zherdev, who we think is going to score.

“As I mentioned earlier in the call, I think some of our young kids, some of the guys that had somewhat off-years last year, in terms of what they’ve done in the past, we look for them to bounce back. I think [Scott] Hartnell is a big guy there, but Jeff [Carter] had a down year from the year before and the addition of Ville Leino at the end of the year, we don’t know what he’s going to do goal-scoring wise, but he certainly looks like a guy that can put up numbers for us based on what he did in the playoffs.

“Right now we like where we’re at. Its July 19 today, so we’ll see what the rest of the summer brings. If this were our team in training camp, I’d be completely comfortable with it.”
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