Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Flyers continue to bolster defense, acquire Niskala

Paul Holmgren is really going to great lengths to improve the Flyers' defense. After acquiring Danny Syvret and Steve Eminger and drafting a pair of defenseman with their top two picks, the Flyers have added even more organizational depth on defense, picking up Janne Niskala from the Nashville Predators for Phantoms forward Triston Grant and a seventh-round pick in next years draft.

This trade basically boils down to one AHL player traded for another, although Niskala does have some upside. He is a powerplay specialist who has had some struggles on the defensive side of the ice, but he is an excellent puck carrying defenseman, something the Flyers have been looking for. Niskala spent last season with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL and put up solid numbers: 44 points in 80 games. Niskala is already 26, though, so it is unlikely that he has much upside. He will need to improve his play in his own end if he wants to make an impact with the big club.

Losing Grant is a non-factor, considering he has only played in 8 career NHL games and is basically just an AHL level enforcer. At 24, he has likely developed into what he is going to be, a career AHLer.

Another solid move to build up the Flyers biggest weakness last season. Holmgren seems to be stockpiling talented defenseman that are NHL tweeners, hoping that one of them will pan out and develop into something more. Hopefully all of these minor defensive moves is a precursor to one big free agent pickup along the blueline because the Flyers could still use another top 4 d-man.

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