Flyers acquire Stanley Cup-winning D-man in trade with Sabres

Flyers acquire Stanley Cup-winning D-man in trade with Sabres

Flyers acquire Stanley Cup-winning D-man in trade with Sabres originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Flyers added a veteran defenseman at Friday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline by acquiring Erik Johnson from the Sabres.

In exchange for Johnson, the Flyers sent Buffalo a 2024 fourth-round draft pick.

With the trade of Sean Walker and the injuries to Nick Seeler, Jamie Drysdale and Rasmus Ristolainen, the Flyers had become decimated on the back end.

In the Flyers’ 2-1 win Thursday night over the NHL-leading Panthers, four of the club’s six defensemen were 24 years old or younger. Three of them had under 80 games of NHL experience, with two being rookies in Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning.

Seeler, who signed a four-year contract extension Wednesday, considered himself week to week with a lower-body injury. He suffered his injury Monday when a shot hit him in the area of his left ankle and foot.

“Seels is kind of a locker room guy,” head coach John Tortorella said Wednesday. “Not by his mouth, but by how he plays. You know how I feel about him, I’ve talked about him in the past couple of weeks. It’s a big one for us there.

“But you’ve got some young kids on the back end now getting some time maybe in our next game here. That’s the way we’ve got to look at it. You just fill it in and hopefully Seels gets back as quickly as possible.”

Johnson gives the Flyers some insurance down the stretch. The 35-year-old has played in 970 career NHL games and he won the 2022 Stanley Cup with the Avalanche.

The righty shot had three goals, a minus-5 rating and 68 blocked shots in 50 games for the Sabres. He played only 13:48 minutes per game.

It’s fair to say he’s not the same player who was a career-best plus-22 in Colorado‘s Cup-winning season, as well as a plus-10 in the playoffs. But the Flyers will welcome his experience to a young defensive group. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

While the Flyers have put an emphasis on youth in their rebuild, they want to give it quality support, especially in a surprise playoff push. With 18 games remaining, the Flyers are 33-23-8 and hold a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division. They’ve been in third place since the end of January and entered Friday with a 76.4 percent chance to make the postseason, according to Hockey-Reference.com’s probabilities report.

But Danny Briere was still focused on the future at the trade deadline. The general manager acquired a 2025 conditional first-round pick in the Walker trade. And the Flyers were in a fine position to sacrifice a 2024 fourth-round pick for Johnson. They have two first-rounders in 2024 and two fifth-rounders, one in which they acquired Wednesday from the Golden Knights.

“The one thing that I won’t be doing is I won’t be trading prime assets just to make a run,” Briere said in January. “I’m not going to trade first-, second-round picks.”

The Flyers’ GM was a teammate of Johnson’s with the Avalanche in 2014-15, Briere’s final NHL season.

Now they’re reunited in Philadelphia.

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