Monday, March 02, 2015

Midnight Lightning: Coburn on way to Bolts

The Flyers officially began to solve the morass on defense early on this trade-deadline morning.

Braydon Coburn is no longer Philadelphia's longest-tenured player or defenseman,  dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he will be re-united with former teammate Matt Carle.

In return, Ron Hextall has netted a first-round pick and third-round pick in  this year's draft as well as defenseman Radko Gudas.

Nicklas Grossmann, a punching bag for fans, is now the elder statesman among active rearguards for the Orange and Black. Claude Giroux stands as the longest-tenured Flyer at any on-ice position and is the lone active holdover from the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals run. 

Coburn, who turned 30 on Friday, was limited by multiple injuries, chief among them a broken foot suffered on opening night in Boston, totaled just nine points (1G, 8A) in 39 games this season. The usually durable vet also missed 15 games two years ago during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, but had only missed eight games total in full, non-interrupted seasons starting in 2007-08.

The Calgary native leaves Philadelphia having played for three head coaches (John Stevens, Peter Laviolette and Craig Berube. He takes flight having placed seventh on the all-time list for games by a defenseman with 576 -- just 18 shy of Mark Howe for sixth place -- along with 37 goals and 124 assists.

Despite the withering invective hurled from afar, Coburn should fit in well as a second-pairing blueliner for a club trying to fend off Montreal, Boston and Detroit in the Northeast Division playoff race. That is, if he can use his somewhat plodding manner in a better role under Jon Cooper.

Gudas clocks in at 6-foot and 205 pounds, and plays a similar physical game to Coburn at his best. Paired at times with Carle in Tampa Bay, there have been some blips, for example that horrendous own-goal in October of 2013 in Chicago.

The 24-year-old Czech was limited in his third NHL season to 31 games during which he collected just two goals and five points. He suffered a season-ending knee injury just after the turn of the new year which required arthroscopic surgery.

The right-handed shot logged 17 minutes of ice time when healthy this season and posted a career-high of 19:08 per game last season.

Hextall did well to shave off more than $3 million from the cap, as Coburn's contract was a $4.5 million hit and Gudas clocks in a shade under a million dollars. 
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