MONTREAL — The Flyers, in effect, traded youth for experience Monday because of a pair of waiver-wire transactions.
They claimed veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya from the Ottawa Senators, and lost defenseman Mark Alt on a waiver claim by Colorado. The Flyers were trying to put Alt through waivers so he would have been eligible to play in the AHL playoffs with the Phantoms.
The Flyers claimed Oduya before they knew they had lost Alt, general manager Ron Hextall said.
Oduya, 36, had four goals, four assists, and a plus-2 rating for Ottawa in 51 games this season.
“He’s a proven veteran guy in the dressing room. Outstanding defender,” said coach Dave Hakstol, adding that Oduya will be used in Alt’s role as the team’s seventh defenseman. “The guy is very versatile in terms of being able to play either side. I think he certainly brings an element to our group.”
Oduya was a healthy scratch Saturday against the visiting Flyers because the Senators were trying to deal him and did not want to risk an injury. They eventually put him on waivers.
A Sweden native, Oduya has played with New Jersey, now-defunct Atlanta, Winnipeg, Chicago, Dallas, and Ottawa in his 12-year NHL career. He played on the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015.
“We like Johnny. We like the playoff experience,” Hextall said. “We felt it really added to our depth.”
Hakstol said he was happy with his defensive rotation.
“Our group of six guys has done a very good job,” he said. “It’s been a steady group. We feel adding Johnny Oduya to our group gives us some very good depth and certainly some good options. But like I said, our group of six has been effective, and that’s something we’d be careful to change without a very good reason.”
Oduya has a $1 million cap hit, and he can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Alt, 26, had no points in eight games and had an “even” plus-minus rating while playing solidly as a fill-in player.
“Altsy’s been a big part of our team,” Hakstol said. “He’s played a very important role for us, sometimes a difficult role when you’re out of the lineup fairly consistently, but then asked to go in and provide a good, steady game. It’s a difficult role, but he’s played it well, and he’s a guy who has really made himself a part of our group.”
Added Hakstol: “It’s tough to see a player like that go; he’s a player who has worked really hard for everything that he’s gotten. I hope he’ll go there and do well.”
Alt said he was surprised he was claimed, “but excited for the opportunity at the same time.” He said he had mixed emotions to be leaving the Flyers. “It’s good to have somebody want you, obviously, but at the same time, it’s tough to leave the team,” he said.
No trades made
The Flyers did not make any deals by Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.
Hextall said he the prices were too high and he didn’t want to disrupt his surging team’s chemistry. He said he didn’t want to mortgage the future just to get marginally better for a couple of months.
“Our objective is to win the Stanley Cup, and we’re not going to do something now that give us maybe a two percent better shot this year but would hurt us down the road,” he said. “We have a lot of good young players here and get asked about them fairly often.”
Hextall made his big move Feb. 19, acquiring much-needed goaltender Petr Mrazek from Detroit for two conditional draft picks. The Flyers gave Detroit a fourth-rounder this June, but it will become a third-rounder if Mrazek wins five-regular-season games and the team gets into the playoffs. The pick will become a second-rounder if the Flyers reach the conference finals and Mrazek earns at least six playoff wins. (By then, Brian Elliott will be back.)
Mrazek, 26, is a restricted free agent, and if he signs with the Flyers, they will owe the Red Wings an additional pick, a third-rounder in 2019.
Mrazek won his first two starts with the Flyers, who, heading into Monday, were 25-8-3 (53 points) since Dec. 4. Boston (54 points) is the only NHL team with more points in that span.