Flyers general manager Ron Hextall admitted shortly after the 3:00 p.m. passage of the NHL's 2018 trade deadline that the team had been involved in several trade discussions leading up the end. Ultimately, he decided not to make a deal, based upon the inflated asking prices for rental players and a desire not to tinker too much with the chemistry the current team has established.
"We're not going to make emotional decisions. We're in this for the long haul. Our objective is to win the Stanley Cup, and we're not going to do something now that gives us maybe a two percent better shot this year that's going to hurt us down the road. We've got a lot of good young players and we get asked about them [by other teams' general managers] fairly often," Hextall said.
"I said at the start of year that we're a playoff team, I'll tell you now we're a playoff team. Our team has worked hard to be in the position where we are now. That being said, we have a lot of work to do still."
Although the Flyers did not make any trades beyond the recent deal to acquire goaltender Petr Mrazek, there were several roster moves made prior to the 3 p.m. deadline.
The team claimed 36-year-old veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya off waivers from the Ottawa Senators. Separately, the Colorado Avalanche claimed 26-year-old defenseman Mark Alt off waivers from the Flyers.
In an on-paper transaction, the Flyers assigned left winger Oskar Lindblom to the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms and then recalled him to the NHL roster. This was done to make the Swedish rookie eligible for the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Additionally, the team recalled veteran winger Matt Read from the Phantoms.
Lastly, as a depth goaltending move, the team has signed Philadelphia Phantoms goaltender John Muse to a two-way NHL contract for the remainder of the season. Muse, who had been on an AHL contract with the Phantoms, had to clear (or be claimed off) waivers first before he was eligible for an NHL contract for the remainder of the season.
A veteran of 849 NHL regular season games and 106 playoff games, Oduya owns two Stanley Cup rings from his years with the Chicago Blackhawks. In 51 games with the Senators this season, the Swede has posted eight points (4g-4a), 32 penalty minutes and a plus-three rating despite starting 60.9 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone.
Oduya averaged 17:12 of ice time and 24.5 shifts per game with Ottawa, including 1:58 of ice time per game on the penalty kill. He blocked 75 shots (1.5 per game) and was credited with 49 hits. Known for years as a positive locker room presence and stabilizing "glue guy" who could be plugged into various different pairings with an ability to play the left or right side with an equal degree of comfort, Oduya spent highly effective multi-year stints with the New Jersey Devils and Chicago.
In Montreal for the Flyers' game on Monday against the Canadiens, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said that he's looking forward to Oduya's addition to the blueline mix.
"It's the experience and he's a proven veteran guy in the dressing room. He's an outstanding defender and he's very versatile," Hakstol said.
Hextall acknowledged that Oduya nowadays is more of a role player than the mainstay he was in the prime of his career. Nevertheless, the GM believes that the veteran is a valuable addition.
"We like Johnny, we like the playoff experience. We felt like it really added to our depth on defense. We're excited about that acquisition," Hextall said.
"We felt, on defense, we were a little bit concerned about our depth. In saying that, right now if you look at our D, obviously Travis [Sanheim] was up for a big part of the year. He's played extremely well in Lehigh Valley. So we've got Johnny, we've got Travis, we've got a couple more guys down there who can play. So we're more comfortable with our depth than we did prior to today."
The GM said it remained to be seen - and would be up to Hakstol to determine - how Oduya's playing time would work out now that he's in the fold. Additionally, teams get four non-emergency recalls from the AHL after the NHL trade deadline. The team used one on the immediate NHL recall of Lindblom after his on-paper reassignment for Calder Cup eligibility purposes. Three recalls remain. At some point, the team may recall Sanheim.
"I can't speak to that right now. It's a decision you make more at the time. Travis has done a good job. Whenever you put a player in, whether you call a player up or what not, it's always a fit thing. So I can't say if he'd play ahead of him or behind him because it's a fit thing for us - it depends what player's out, it depends how long, we've got the four call-up rule now. There's a lot of things that go into these decisions, it's not as black-and-white as we'd probably all like it to be," Hextall said.
With the emergence of 20-year-old Travis Konecny and 19-year-old Nolan Patrick as regular offensive contributors - and the promising early showing by 21-year-old rookie left wing Lindblom in his first three NHL games - Hextall was comfortable with the team's scoring depth up front entering the stretch drive. The addition of Mrazek in goal to offset injuries to Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth alleviated what had been the general manager's number one concern.
"You look up front, we've got Simmer coming back, and Oskar's done a nice job for us. So if we're going to add a piece, he's got to be better than some of the players we have in Lehigh, and again the price has got to be right. As expected, it wasn't," Hextall said.
"Just because we're a point out of the division lead, we're not going to make a deal that makes us a little better right now but we give up two young assets, a good young player, a draft pick… we're not going to make deals to go essentially all-in one year. When I took over four years ago, I said we're going to make a long window here. Well, you can't forget about the window. We're not going to mortgage our future to make one run with rentals and stuff. We're going to do it the seven, eight, ten-year way where we feel like we're going to be competitive for a long span of time, and not mortgage the future."
Video: Hextall on the Trade Deadline (Part 1)
Video: Hextall on the Trade Deadline (Part 2)