Despite a recent surge that has seen them claw back into playoff contention, the Philadelphia Flyers (27-25-11) look to be committed to rebuilding their aging blue line. One day after trading Kimmo Timonen to Chicago, GM Ron Hextall has generated another coup, acquiring a young defenseman along with 2015 1st- and 3rd-round picks for Braydon Coburn.
Coburn, 30, has been a mainstay for the Flyers defense and was arguably the best remaining defender on the blue line. He has been outshone by Michael Del Zotto and Mark Streit, two puck-movers with a knack for big goals, more recently, but losing him certainly dents the Flyers’ chances for a playoff run this season.
That said, Coburn never reached the ceiling many envisioned after a strong start to his NHL career, and getting such high picks for him looks very good on Hextall, who is clearly committed to reversing the wrongs of Paul Holmgren’s tenure and building from the ground up.
In addition to the picks, the Flyers will receive Radko Gudas; the 24-year old Czech defenseman was teammates with winger Jake Voracek at the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi. He has become a mainstay in the Lightning defense since the beginning of last season, but will likely provide nothing more than depth going forward.
As BSH’s Charlie O’Connor points out, however, the toughest task(s) are yet to come:
Those “bad contracts” include defenseman Andrew MacDonald and forward Vinny Lecavalier among others; if Hextall can continue to work his magic, he just may push Sam Hinkie for most popular GM in the city.