Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Meszaros shipped to Boston in unique transaction

The Philadelphia Flyers put an end to a month's worth of speculation in sending defenseman Andrej Meszaros to the Boston Bruins for a conditional draft pick in 2015.
Dan Murphy of Rogers Sportsnet was the first to report the transaction, roughly an hour before the passing of the 3 PM trade deadline.

It was an expected, if not necessary move. Meszaros, an unrestricted free agent come July, was held out of action at times seemingly placed in "showcase mode" by the club despite his offensive upside in recent weeks. He'll have one familiar face in Bruins captain and Slovakian countryman Zdeno Chara, who patrolled the blueline during the recently-completed Sochi games.

"I spoke with Andrej briefly when word was gonna get out and things went well. He's been through some good times and bad times in this organization," stated Flyers GM Paul Holmgren in an afternoon presser. "He was always a good guy, had a big smile on his face, and I wished him well and thanked him. He did have a tough 18 months with all the injuries that hit him, never once complained. He was always a good soldier about it."

Meszaros alternated time as a healthy scratch and offensive force on Philly's backline this season, totaling five goals and 17 points in just 38 games. He was slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. It was a rebound season after having his previous two largely wrecked because of injuries to his hip, knee and a torn Achilles tendon which delayed the start to his 2013 campaign.

Taken by the Flyers from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a second-round draft pick in July of 2010, Meszaros arrives in Boston having compiled 20 goals and 76 points over 192 regular-season contests with the second-place club in the Metropolitan Division.

A former 23rd-overall selection of the Senators in 2004, Meszaros has picked up 54 goals and 165 assists in 571 NHL games over nine seasons for Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia.

What makes the deal unique, and fluid, is the nature of the conditions attached. On its face a third-round selection for next year's draft, according to a Flyers insider, the draft pick becomes a second-rounder if the
Bruins reach the conference finals, Meszaros plays in two-thirds of Boston's postseason tilts, or if he is re-signed prior to June's draft.

However,  the Flyers will receive an additional fourth-round selection in 2015 if Boston neither reaches the conference finals nor signs Meszaros before the draft, or if he is re-signed after the draft.

Translation: there's a lot riding on the relative success or failure of the B's postseason sojourn and how the lumbering, oft-injured blueliner fits into the club's pairings. The defending Eastern Conference champions are trying to fend off the Canadiens and Lightning in the Atlantic Division, and are under pressure to repeat their previous spring's performance which included a shocking four-game sweep of provisional Cup favorite Pittsburgh.

The pick also gives Paul Holmgren $6.4 million worth of cap space with which to reshape the roster in the offseason.

Steve Downie, the club's other conspicuous UFA, remained in place and is expected to play as the Orange and Black take on the Washington Capitals this evening.

"Actually there was not a lot going on today. We were active over the last couple of days trying to get Andrew and we were able to finalize that," Holmgren added. "Today was kind of slow. We weren't looking to do anything else. As I said all along, I like our team and we addressed our defense. I think we improved there and we're ready to go."

The Caps made several upgrades in the last two days, acquiring Dustin Penner from Anaheim and Jaroslav Halak from the Buffalo Sabres for Michal Neuvirth and Rusty Klesla.

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