In trading for veteran centers Derek Grant and Nate Thompson at the NHL trade deadline, the Flyers sought to add a pair of battle-tested depth veterans. Both have the ability to play special teams (exclusively penalty killing in Thompson's case), size and grit in the trenches, good work ethics and are solid citizens in the locker room.
Head coach Alain Vigneault indicated that Thompson would step in at fourth line center, while Grant is somewhat more versatile in being able to play any forward position and to be plugged into different spots in the lineup.
Grant will most likely start out on wing, although positions and line combinations are fluid at this point.
Vigneault said that both new players could be in Tuesday night's starting lineup when the Flyers host the San Jose Sharks. The coach said that he is not concerned that adding two new players to the lineup will detract from the chemistry that has emerged in the lineup.
"I think we've added to the chemistry, not taken away," Vigneault said.
The 29-year-old Grant, despite absorbing a whopping 70 percent of his even-strength shifts as defensive zone starts -- which severely affected his underlying analytics on a struggling team -- has posted a career-high 14 goals this season among his 20 points in 49 games played. It is the second double-digit goal season of his NHL career to date. At 6-foot-3, 205-plus pounds, one of Grant's primary strengths is his ability to battle in the trenches.
"He is hard to play against," fellow deadline acquisition Thompson said of his new teammate. "I think every time I have played against him when he was with Anaheim and Pittsburgh, he was one of those guys that you know you are in for a tough night. He is very versatile. I am excited to be playing on the same side as him."
Overall, Grant has played an average 13:52 of ice time per game, including 2:34 on the penalty kill and supplementary second power play unit time (0:39 per game). In games that have gone to overtime, he has averaged one shift (average of :14 seconds) during the five-minute segment.
Thompson, 35, is a veteran of 760 regular season games. The 6-foot, 206-pounder is known from bringing physicality, energy and tenacity to the table as well as for getting under opponent's skin. This season, he has averaged 12:48 of ice time, including 2:15 of penalty killing time.
"I think [my role] goes without saying. I have been around long enough. My role has never really changed. I think he just told me to come in and be myself and play the way that I have played and continue to do that, and everything will fall into place. I'm just going to come in and play my role and do what I have to do to help this team win and just have fun doing it. It sounds like a great group of guys here. I'm excited to be a part of it and I can't wait to get going," Thompson said.
Scott Laughton said that Thompson may not be a player who puts up offensive stats but he's a player that opponents are always aware of on the ice because they've got a battle on their hands.
"Really, really good on draws. Good PK guy. From what I've seen of him this year, he seems to be skating well. I've heard nothing but good things about him," Laughton said.
Thompson, who hails from Alaska and is close friends with retired Flyers Alumni defenseman Matt Carle and knows James van Riemsdyk from playing summer hockey together in Minnesota, is a well-liked player off-the-ice around the league. He has overcome off-ice issues and takes nothing for granted on a day-to-day basis.
The Flyers are already the No. 1 ranked faceoff team in the NHL. Adding Thompson and Grant strengthens the team in further on draws. Thompson clocks in at a 55.1% winning percentage on draws. Grant has won 51.4% of his faceoffs.
Both have also individually done well on the penalty kill. Among all NHL forwards to average at least two minutes of PK time per game. Grant has been on the ice for 6.21 power play goals against per 60 minutes of PK time. Thompson is at 7.65 per 60. Among the Flyers forwards this season, the best ratio belongs to Sean Couturier (7.75 PPGA/60).
The Flyers are back in action on Tuesday when they host the San Jose Sharks. Puck drop is 7 p.m. on NBCSP or listen live on 97.5 The Fanatic.
Video: Hear from Vigneault and players on trade deadline