When the Flyers missed out on landing Shea Weber when their offer sheet was matched last month by Nashville, general manager Paul Holmgren was able to take solace and lean on the fact that he still had a solid stable of veteran defensemen on the roster.
That stable was reduced by one Tuesday.
The Flyers announced that Andrej Meszaros, a Barry Ashbee Award winner as the Flyers best defenseman in 2010-11, underwent surgery after tearing his right Achilles tendon during a recent training session.
The Flyers are saying the injury will sideline Meszaros indefinitely. They won’t set a time table because Achilles’ tendon injuries are tricky.
Some take a lot longer than others to recover, depending on the severity of the injury.
Philadelphia fans are familiar with the injury because of how long it took Phillies’ slugger Ryan Howard to return from his ruptured Achilles.
However, former Flyer Justin Williams, tore his Achilles in training camp when he played for Carolina and returned in 14 weeks.
“I think we’ll have a better idea in six weeks once we see how things are progressing,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “We‘ll see how it goes over the next six weeks.”
Meszaros averaged more than 20 minutes of ice time per game for the Flyers in each of the past two seasons.
In the meantime, the Flyers will have to decide whether to stay the course with young players already in their system or to pursue another NHL-tested veteran who may remain available in free agency or pursue a trade.
“We’ll see what the rest of the summer brings,” Holmgren said. “We do have some salary cap space. Having said that, we have some kids that we like who got their feet wet last year, so we’ll see.”
People who like to read between the lines can interpret that as meaning that Holmgren will look into replacing Meszaros with a veteran defenseman. However, don’t expect him to push the panic button on that front. He will only add a player if it makes sense financially and logistically for the team.
Otherwise, expect to see a lot more of Erik Gustafsson or Marc-Andre Bourdon, or be introduced to top defensive prospect Brandon Manning.
Either way, the loss of Meszaros will be felt right from the jump in training camp.
“He’s a very offensive player who is good defensively,” said Scott Hartnell. “It’s going to be tough when you lose anyone. With our best defenseman [Chris] Pronger being out, it’s going to leave us a little shorthanded.”