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Why the Flyers won the Talbot-Downie trade

Oct 31, 2013, 4:12 PM EDT


The Flyers just got a little better.

After a sleepy 3-8-0 start to the season, many in the hockey world expected the Flyers and general manager Paul Holmgren to make a panic move. Instead, the aggressive GM closed on a depth trade, moving forward and defensive specialist Max Talbot to the Colorado Avalanche for physical forward Steve Downie.

And that’s an overall win for the Flyers.

At face value, what the Flyers get in Downie is familiarity with head coach Craig Berube, a jolt in bullish energy and a pinch of offensive capability that was desperately needed at the wing position.

He’s three-years younger than Talbot and brings different, much-needed strengths to the Flyers’ roster. More of an offensive player than Talbot, Downie, who isn’t completely inept defensively, averaged 16:43 time on ice per game and was a top-four forward on the Avs’ eighth-ranked power play.

Looking for a top-six winger that isn’t Michael Raffl and for someone to help their 25th-ranked power play, the Flyers may tap Downie to play solid minutes next to Claude Giroux, who has struggled without steady finishers and forecheckers on his line.

Downie, who once scored 22 goals with the Tampa Bay Lightning, is currently on pace for a career-high 55 points this season. He has seven assists and one goal in 11 games and was a solid contributor to the Avalanche’s current 10-1-0 record.

This move also makes slight financial sense for the Flyers. With Talbot signed on for three more years at $1.75m, the Flyers give themselves options. If the Downie experiment doesn’t work, that’s OK. He is in a contract year at $2.65m. They can simply walk away.

Tossing that all aside, here’s why the Flyers win this trade: It’s less about Downie’s numbers and more about the decline of Talbot.

Scouting reports will tell you that 29-year-old Talbot is a gritty, physical, energy forward that is above average defensively, an elite penalty killer and will chip in offensively. He has also slowed considerably during the last two seasons.

Talbot was one of the Flyers’ best penalty killers, if not the best. He averaged 15:08 time on ice per game, 3:35 of which went into the PK — a high for Flyers forwards. And though that’s what the Flyers will miss most, it’s also where his contribution ended.

The smallish forward has just 11 hits in 11 games and hasn’t shown the same aggressive forechecking fire that got him his reputation. Caught between being a fourth-line center and third-line winger, Talbot drew tough defensive assignments but couldn’t really overcome them, scoring just one goal and one assist this season. He has also managed just 14 shots on goal, his lone score coming off an unknowing skate defection.

Coming off a shortened season in which he only earned 10 points in 35 games, Talbot’s decline from his 19-goal 2011-12 season was swift. Though his tempo and production might change under Avs coach Patrick Roy, Talbot was little more than a slowing bottom-five defense-only player on a bad team.

  1. 33 - Oct 31, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Any thoughts on who steps up to eat those PK minutes? Chances are we just added a few more per game on most nights. I’m worried about that aspect, but OK with shedding a contract that seemed longer than it should have been from day one.

  2. BenE. - Oct 31, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    I’m so happy Downie is back. Stevens put Downie in the doghouse and destroyed the youngster’s confidence. He went on to be a solid winger for Tampa, providing secondary scoring to Lecavalier, Stamkos, and St. Louis. In Colorado, he was putting in minutes on the second line with Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly and they have been killing it. Put Downie with Giroux and Lecavalier if Vinny is still going to skate with G, and see what happens.

    Homer stole this trade, hands down. Having Talbot on this team has been grossly redundant for over a year.

    • mike - Oct 31, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      What did Downie do to end up in Stevens’ doghouse?

      Ohh yea, the 4th longest suspension in NHL history because of a flying elbow to the head of Dean McAmmond. Oh and then sucker punched Jason Blake when Blake had both arms held by a linesman.

      This got him in the doghouse. He was then traded Norfolk, where he slashed a ref after an empty net goal.

      • Diddy - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:15 AM

        Yeah, but the ref was the instigator.

    • MJS - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:15 AM

      I like this trade and view it as an upgrade (not a major upgrade by any means, but an upgrade nonetheless), but Mike is right on with this one. Saying Downie was put in the doghouse and had his confidence destroyed makes it sound like he didn’t do anything wrong. Downie put himself in the doghouse with stupid plays. I’m not arguing that he’s not a changed player now, but don’t make it sound like Stevens ruined this guy’s early career when he was with the Flyers.

      • BenE. - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:27 AM

        Stevens did, though, IMO. Downie was young and immature. He needed more coaching, and from a coach who believed in him. Stevens was as passive as they come. He was a horrible coach at the NHL level. Downie made some bonehead plays, but throwing a 21? year old rookie under the bus was not how to correct it. He played with a ton of fire; he just needed to learn how to harness it.

        Downie scored 12 points his first twelve games. The he scored none in his next 20. That sounds to me like Downie lost his confidence.

      • MJS - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:57 AM

        Players like Rinaldo (late round picks) need that kind of coaching when they’re young (and Rinaldo has played his role very well since turning things around). When you’re a 1st round pick, whether it’s fair or unfair, you’re held to a higher standard and getting a 20 game suspension just prior to playing in your first regular season game with the team that drafted you, lands you in the doghouse no matter who the coach is. Tocchet even said that he had to read him the riot act more than once when he was in Tampa.

      • BenE. - Nov 1, 2013 at 11:11 AM

        But, MJS, look how well Downie played in Tampa. Perhaps the riot act is what he needed to remain on the right track. Let’s keep in mind, Downie played on the top line with Lecavalier and St. Louis. Being put on a line with the team’s best players is a sign of confidence from the coach. So he was obviously progressing as a player. That was several years ago, too.

        I hope enough people like you and I realize that, now it seems there are more Flyers fans who never leave the Philly bubble than I thought. I used to think Philly fans separated themselves from cities like Boston or New York, who know jack about sports outside Boston or New York. These days, I’m not so sure. Anyone who has followed Downie since his first stint with Philly can tell you he will always have an edge to him, but this isn’t OHL Peterborough Downie anymore.

      • MJS - Nov 1, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        Yeah I’m sure there were multiple factors that put him on the right track (riot act, age, not becoming the next Matt Cooke, when Cooke was at his dirtiest). Regardless, he’s better today than when he was with the Flyers.

        He’s obviously an offensive upgrade from Talbot, but who isn’t. Hall is replacing Tablot though (at least I’m guessing this will happen). Downie is only better than Raffl (or any AHLer we could call up..) out of the wingers on the top 3 lines, so what happens next? Raffl gets moved to the 4th line? Not sure what good that does for a young player like that as we’ve discussed before. My guess is another move is coming soon or they may roll with Hall centering Rosehill and Rinaldo on the 4th.

  3. Kevin - Oct 31, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Word on the street is the Flyers are also in “very serious” discussions with the Blues and Oilers.

    • BenE. - Oct 31, 2013 at 4:45 PM

      Regarding the Oilers, Holmgren has been talking to them for a few weeks, and the names that keep coming up are Nail Yakupov, Ales Hemsky, Sean Couturier, Braydon Coburn, and Wayne Simmonds.

      The Blues scouts have been watching the Flyers this week. My fingers are crossed for Chris Stewart haha.

      • Kevin - Oct 31, 2013 at 5:26 PM

        I wouldn’t mind Stewart but I was hoping for Shattenkirk.

      • BenE. - Oct 31, 2013 at 5:52 PM

        You will not see a complaint from me (I know I know!) if the Flyers got Shattenkirk. Especially if Coburn is involved! Ha.

      • Kevin - Oct 31, 2013 at 6:56 PM

        Haha well they might need the cap relief. I definitely wouldn’t hate to see him go.

    • Bobby Clarke - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:41 AM

      Wait, do the Oilers or the Blues have any former Flyers?

  4. Jason R. - Oct 31, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    They did something!! And something that appears positive?! Happy Halloween!

    • Jason R. - Oct 31, 2013 at 6:24 PM

      What does this do to their cap situation? Or did the Bryz buyout make it so there isn’t a “cap situation” anymore? Not that it matters since its only for this year. Also, what will Downie’s FA status be this offseason? I assume UFA since he’ll be here less than a year?

      • Paul - Oct 31, 2013 at 6:36 PM

        He is UFA at the end of this year. It helps us tremendously the next two years by taking Talbot’s contract off the books. If Downie plays well enough he will probably be back with maybe a slight raise. The Flyers also have Meszaros and Timmonen’s contracts coming off the books. As of right now without any other moves they have about 9.5 mil in cap room for next year. However, Scheen, Raffl, Bourdon, Gustaffson and Mason are all RFA’s and will get raises and the Flyers have another 6 roster spots to fill if all of those RFA’s resign. The Hartnell and Streit deals are seriously handicapping them from landing big free agents.

  5. Mostel - Oct 31, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    Two trades need to be made

    1) Mez traded to free up cap space and we get back garbage.

    2) We trade garbage to a bad team with a 25+ goal scoring winger who is making money like he’s a 40+ goal scoring winger.

    Sadly we can’t trade our no goal scoring winger Hartnell because Homer gave that thief a big money long-term deal.

  6. Pollard - Oct 31, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    Longtime, diehard Avalanche fan, here. I have always appreciated our “inconsequential, yet connected” relationship over the years (Foppa, Ian Lappy, etc), but this one is a landslide win for the Flyers. I’m sure you Philly fans know who Duchene, Factor (O’Reilly), MacKinnon, P.A. are, but the Downie that you let go years ago is NOT the Downie we just traded you. We were robbed. We should have got at least a 2nd – even 1st rounder along with Talbot for Downie! Daylight robbery, man. A 10-1 start with Downie’s energy, toughness and scoring being a HUGE part of that success, I can’t see us being as dominant in November now. No way. I am highly disappointed right now, but all the best to you, Downie, and to Philly going forward.

    • BenE. - Nov 1, 2013 at 1:50 AM

      There you have it folks. Spelled out objectively by an Avs fan. Of course, anyone who actually knows hockey and follow hockey outside of 94.1 WIP could have told us what Pollard did. Whatever bullshit Downie did or didn’t do five years ago is irrelevant. He has always played hard, and given every shift his full effort. If he doesn’t score, he hits something. Either way, he makes sure everyone knows he played that night. Since when do we not appreciate that effort in Philly? Soft ass Flyers fans on here anymore.

      • BenE. - Nov 1, 2013 at 1:54 AM

        Downie has spent time on the top line in Tampa, on Lecavlier’s wing, and in Colorado, with some of their best young players. He was part of one of the most productive scoring lines in the NHL so far this season, and you guys are worried about losing Max Talbot? Oh but he plays good defense and is such a sweetheart! Get over it. So is Sean Couturier.

      • mike - Nov 1, 2013 at 9:19 AM

        That’s not objectively. That’s subjectively. He’s an Avs fan. He is just as biased as a Flyers fan. Objectively would mean he is using stats and numbers to make the comparison.

        “Hits” just mean you don’t have the puck. Last year the Chicago Blackhawks were last in hits. You know why? Because they always had the puck. The Flyers have a ton of hits because they don’t have the puck.

        I’d rather see the Flyers acquire guys who actually score goals. Instead they go out and acquire guys with imaginary intangibles such as “”made sure everybody knew he played that night “, “desire to win”, “intensity”, “toughness” and “playing hard”. Every player in the NHL has those! You can’t make it to the NHL without them!

        And of course the Avs fan loves the special relationship with the Flyers. Because of trades between the Avs and the Flyers, to paraphrase Ed Snider, the Flyers got to the playoff a lot of times and to the Stanley Cup a lot of times. And the Avalanche got two Stanley Cups signed, sealed and delivered by the Flyers.

      • BenE. - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:20 AM

        Well fortunately for you, Downie scores, too. And he has been scoring with some of the greatest talent in the NHL, too boot.

      • BenE. - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:35 AM

        And I hate to break it to you, mike, but the Flyers are not on the Blackhawks’ level right now.

        Aside from that, if you don’t have the puck, you better be trying like hell to get it back. Skating around passively does nothing to get it back.

        How many times have you guys complained about “invisible” players this year, and our lack of scoring? The Flyers just brought in a good secondary scorer who has experience on the top line, and plays hard, and you soft fans hate it. My mind would be blown if I didn’t know how ridiculous you’re being.

      • Earl - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:49 AM

        56 goals in 285 NHL games. Yea, he is a real lamp lighter.

        But look how he helps a team win- 2 playoff appearances in 8 years!

        Colorado is off to their best start in years, and dumped him ASAP!

      • igantz - Nov 1, 2013 at 12:00 PM

        WIP talks about hockey? I must miss that 5min a day every day, along with hockey talk on ESPN.

      • willh888 - Nov 1, 2013 at 12:29 PM

        Earl the Stat Bro, if we’re comparing the two, Downie has 9 less points in 230 less games.

        Nine less points in two hundred thirty less games.

      • mike - Nov 1, 2013 at 6:14 PM

        Both the Flyers and the Blackhawks have won 2 Stanley Cups in the past 50 years. The big difference is the Blackhawks have won their 2 in the past 4 years. Maybe the Flyers need to start trying to play more like the Blackhawks, who value guys that can hold onto and move the puck. The Flyers continue to get players who can chase the puck.

        And you don’t want guys trying like heck to get the puck. You want guys playing a smart system who know how to get the puck without getting burnt (I’m looking at you Luke Schenn.)

        The Flyers don’t need a secondary scorer. They need a primary scorer. They need defense. They need players who can clear the zone. That’s the reason the offense is anemic. They can’t the puck past their own blue line.

  7. T800m101 - Oct 31, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    Glad one of the biggest pussies in the league in Talbot is gone. Downie is a born Flyer, glad he’s back. Some of you homos really need to stop defending the bitch Talbot, he was an absolute disgrace to the Flyers uniform. Again, if you defend Talbot, you’re a pseudo-Flyers fan,

    • mike - Nov 1, 2013 at 9:03 AM

      You know when ESPN talks about “Philly Sports Fans”, you are the type of people they mean.

      • Jay D - Nov 1, 2013 at 12:53 PM

        Amen mike….
        T800m101…wow, re-read what you just said, check your blood pressure, and settle the hell down.

      • willh888 - Nov 1, 2013 at 12:57 PM

        guy’s post has 6 pack written all over it

      • T800m101 - Nov 1, 2013 at 11:39 PM

        Considering I probably know more about the game than you ever will, it’s best of you kept quiet.

    • Earl - Nov 1, 2013 at 1:11 PM

      You are one of those people that slide into second trying to break up a double play during a company softball game.

      • T800m101 - Nov 1, 2013 at 11:48 PM

        You are one of those people that are fake hockey fans. Go watch soccer.

  8. DaveB - Nov 1, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    But Talbot has such a cute smile, and all the girls loved him! We should have kept him just like we should of kept Bryz cause he made all the special ed kids chuckle with his idiot comments. You fuking soft ass flyers fans are sad now a days.

    • willh888 - Nov 1, 2013 at 9:23 AM

      But Talbot had that one game before he was a Flyer

      • BenE. - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:18 AM

        This is what I don’t get the most. He was the second most-hated Penguin on that team after Crosby. He signs here and everyone forgets about it. Mind you, it wasn’t Malkin coming here. It was Max Talbot, a marginal third line center who is solid on the penalty kill. He is a dime a dozen.

      • willh888 - Nov 1, 2013 at 12:59 PM

        I mean, I appreciate certain players for their level of toughness. The only thing I can point to is breaking his leg and skating off the ice on his own (talbot right?). Other than that, killing pp’s is valuable but you hand that job to couts, find another scrapper with younger legs and you have more offense, pk ability and more $$ to spend

  9. BenE. - Dec 4, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    Anyone care to revisit this trade?

    Talbot: 2 points in 14 games with Colorado.
    Downie: 9 points in 13 games with Philly, always involved in the play and helping create scoring chances.

    Our defense hasn’t been any worse in Talbot’s offense, and has actually marginally improved. Meanwhile, we are getting solid secondary scoring from our third line. Downie looks great with Read and Scooter.

    • BenE. - Dec 4, 2013 at 11:33 PM

      in Talbot’s absence*


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