On Tuesday, the Flyers announced veteran d-man Kimmo Timonen was diagnosed with blood clots in his lower right leg and both lungs, and is currently being treated for the disorder in his native Finland.
While there’s no timetable for Timonen’s return, GM Ron Hetxall said the club views this as a “long-term” situation, suggesting the Flyers are prepared to start the season without the 39-year-old, and possibly play the entire campaign minus his services.
With that in mind, here’s a look at what Philadelphia faces moving forward.
Philly’s new projected top-six defense is Mark Streit, Braydon Coburn, Andrew MacDonald, Nicklas Grossmann, Luke Schenn and former Edmonton/Minnesota/Columbus rearguard Nick Schultz, who was signed in free agency. Even with Timonen in the mix, the group wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring — without him, it’s a trouble area for sure as his impact on the club’s possession and shots-for/shots-against metrics were very impressive. You could also pencil him in for 20-22 minutes a night and 35-40 points a year.
Compounding things is Philly’s lack of solutions within the organization. The team has taken d-men with their first picks in consecutive drafts (Samuel Morin in ’13, Travis Sanheim this year), but neither has played a game of professional hockey and aren’t immediate solutions. Highly-touted college standout Shayne Gostisbehere is a little older (21) and a little more experienced, but still only has two games under his belt with AHL Adirondack.
Speaking of Adirondack/Lehigh Valley, the Phantoms present a few other options as well. RFA Brandon Manning’s been up with the Flyers on a few occasions, as has Olivier Lauridsen. Robert Hagg, a Swedish d-man taken in the second round in ’13, played 10 games for the Phantoms last year and could warrant a look too.
What’s out there
Given all the aforementioned names have such little big-league experience, it’s not surprising that Hextall wants to wade into the free agent and trade market:
Hextall wants to sign a veteran FA or trade; NOT put pressure on his young prospects, he said
— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchCSN) August 5, 2014
Bringing someone aboard via either avenue will prove tricky. The Flyers are currently $3 million over the cap but will get LTIR relief from Chris Pronger ($4.9M) and, possibly Timonen ($2M) — which would give Hextall room to work with, albeit not that much. There have been rumblings about Philly having interest in ex-Rangers and Predators rearguard Michael Del Zotto, who could be a good gamble at a relatively low cost given his reputation is “in tatters,” according to the New York Post.
The rest of the available free agents are… well, uninspiring to be totally honest. Sami Salo, Henrik Tallinder, Ed Jovanovski, Derek Morris, Douglas Murray, Francis Bouillon and Shane O’Brien are a few of the names out there, but they’re out there for a reason.
In the end, this is a tough situation for both Timonen and the Flyers and there doesn’t appear to be a quality solution on the horizon. It’s the first real crisis moment in Hextall’s tenure as GM, and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles it.