Anyone who witnessed the calamity that was the Philadelphia Flyers 2012-2013 season should be able to agree on two obvious weaknesses; goaltending and defense. With the goaltending issue (hopefully) solved through the acquisition of Ray Emery and the extension given to Steve Mason, all eyes turned to defense.
The Flyers made genuine attempts to bolster their defense. They acquired veteran blueliner Mark Streit from the New York Islanders, while picking up young prospects Samuel Morin and Robert Hagg during the 2013 NHL draft. Unfortunately, these youngsters aren’t projected to be NHL-ready for a number of years.
As the season approaches, salary cap remains an issue. When Chris Pronger inevitably goes on the long-term injured reserve list, the Flyers will gain a little less than $5 million in cap space. This will not take effect until the first day of the season.
Surely, the Flyers are trying to re-sign Simon Gagne, albeit at a discounted price. It can also be assumed that Paul Holmgren is always looking to make a deal, attempting to acquire more players before the season starts. To meet the aforementioned goals, the Flyers need to clear cap space. And Andrej Meszaros is the only justifiable solution.
The 27-year-old Slovakian defender is a force to be reckoned with on the blueline, with a powerful slapshot to match. If healthy, he’s the type of player the Flyers need to be successful.
Unfortunately, Meszaros is unlikely to be healthy throughout the upcoming season. During the 2011-2012 season, he suffered an Achilles injury as well as a shoulder injury. The shoulder injury proved to be reoccurring despite surgery, and he played in just 11 games during the 2012-2013 season.
Meszaros will take up $4 million in cap space during the coming season, a figure that the Flyers desperately need free. As said, he’s a skilled defender, and great when healthy. It’s unlikely he will be able to remain healthy, and that is a liability the Flyers cannot take.