Just a few minutes before free agency opened at noon, the Flyers traded a 2012 second round pick to Tampa Bay for defenseman Andrej Meszaros (pronounced AWN-dray MEH-zahr-ohsh).
Meszaros, 24, is a former first round pick from Slovakia.
"I was surprised for sure," Meszaros said in a conference call with reporters. "But that's part of hockey life. I've got to move on now. It's great, Philadelphia was always a tough team to play against. I'm excited."
"We're excited to add Andrej to our team and defensive group," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. "Andrej is a young, durable defenseman who can play in all situations and will be a good fit on our club."
Meszaros' stats over the last two years dropped significantly in Tampa Bay from the lofty numbers he posted over three seasons in Ottawa, making him expendable by the Lightning. In his time in Tampa, Meszaros was depended on as a No. 1 or No. 2 defenseman.
"It seemed like it didn't want to go in [in Tampa Bay]," Meszaros said. "Maybe I was trying to hard."
Here are Meszaros’ stats:
2005-06 - Ottawa – 10 goals, 29 assists, 39 points, plus-34 (82 games)
2006-07 - Ottawa – 7 goals, 28 assists, 35 points, minus-15 (82 games)
2007-08 - Ottawa – 9 goals, 27 assists, 36 points, plus-5 (82 games)
2008-09 - Tampa Bay – 2 goals, 14 assists, 16 points, minus-4 (52 games)
2009-10 - Tampa Bay – 6 goals, 11 assists, 17 points, minus-14 (81 games)
The biggest number is Meszaros’ cap hit. Meszaros has four years left on his deal at $4 million per season.
As you can see, Meszaros has been pretty durable over his career - except for the 2008-09 season when he had shoulder surgery and also broke his jaw.
The book on him says he is a big defenseman, 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and a strong skater. Since he is from the former Czechoslovakia, Meszaros said he knew Lukas Krajicek - who doesn't figure to be in the Flyers' plans - and he played briefly with Matt Carle in Tampa Bay before the Flyers traded for Carle.
With a $4 million cap hit, Meszaros could limit the Flyers’ other moves in free agency. The Flyers have also re-signed restricted free agent Braydon Coburn to a two-year, $6.4 million contract. With that, they have approximately $3.2 million remaining on the $59.4 million cap but still need to re-sign restricted free agent forwards Darroll Powe and Dan Carcillo.
Meszaros said he briefly spoke with Holmgren, and though they did not talk about his role on the team, which figures to be as a depth defenseman despite his salary, Meszaros vowed to be a team player. Meszaros said he was tuned-in to the Flyers' run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
"We didn't talk yet about that, but I'm sure we'll talk when we see each other in person," Meszaros said. "I want to be a part of the team. I want to win. I'm all for the win."
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