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Holmgren Busy: Flyers Acquire Another Backup Goalie, Dump Calder

Feb 27, 2007, 3:07 PM EDT

In a somewhat surprising move, the Flyers closed the trading season today by acquiring goalie Martin Biron from the Sabres for a second-round pick. You may remember Marty from such films as last week’s epic "Getting My Ass Kicked by Ray Emery." Biron is a solid goaltender and had a lot of success with Buffalo before losing his starting job to Ryan Miller. Because he is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, the Sabres essentially cut him loose early to get something in return. He’s probably an upgrade over current starter Antero Niittymaki and should be a starter somewhere, so the move isn’t surprising from that standpoint, but it’s interesting because all of the other moves the Flyers have made in the last two weeks have sent talented players with expiring contracts to contending teams in return for prospects. This move is the exact opposite.

To me, one of the Flyers’ biggest problems for much of the last two decades is the lack of a dominant goaltender. In Philly, there always seems to be a goalie controversy (or "rotation"), and if you’re not good enough to clearly establish yourself as the best goalie on your team, you’re probably not good enough to carry them to a Stanley Cup. Hopefully Biron returns to his pre-Miller form in Philly. No word yet on the fate of Robert Esche, who is now the odd man out. As of the 3PM trade deadline, there were no reports of him being sent packing.

Yesterday, the team also dealt underachieving forward Kyle Calder to Chicago (he then went to Detroit) for a decent young defenseman in Lasse Kukkonen. I wasn’t a big fan of the deal that originally brought Calder to Philly, because it sent away Michal Handzus, who was talented and tough—the kind of player the Flyers really lack right now in their search for identity and leadership.

It’s interesting to see so much activity from Paul Holmgren, who was named interim GM when Bobby Clarke stepped down. I honestly didn’t know he had it in him, and I’m impressed with what he’s done in his trades this year.