Who Wins the Talbot/Downie Trade?

The Philadelphia Flyers have been known recently for making questionable trades in personnel, but last Thursday’s trade of Maxime Talbot for Colorado’s Steve Downie came as a surprise to everyone, including Talbot himself:

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been traded. So, I’m dealing with some of the shock of that…Obviously, they’re off to a great start and have lots of great young players. It seems like it was when I was in Pittsburgh in some ways, I hope to come in and contribute and keep things going in a good way.”

The Talbot-for-Downie move is a bit of a head scratcher, as they are very similar players in size (Talbot 5’11” 190, Downie 5’11” 191), style, age (T- 29, D- 26)  and contract (both bringing in about $2.5mil). Talbot is best known for his 2009 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he was twice the playoff hero; first fighting Daniel Carcillo and turning the tide for the Penguins to come back from a 3 goal deficit, then scoring the only two goals of Game 7 in the Finals to clinch the Stanley Cup against Detroit. A fan favorite, many were sad to see him leave for greener pastures (and greener wallets) in Philadelphia while the Pens struggled to stay under the Salary Cap. Usually a 3rd liner, Talbot had been largely ineffective on a slumping Flyers team and found himself on the 4th line with few points. His strongest skill set is on the penalty kill, where the Avalanche don’t really need any help. Thus far in the season, they are a perfect 100% on the PK, tying them for first in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues.

Downie is a high-energy grit player, who fits the Philadelphia mold perfectly. Maybe a little too perfect, as they already have a stable full of guys who will drop the gloves and get chippy in the corners. If it wasn’t obvious enough that he’s been brought in to play the body instead of the puck, Downie threw down with the Capitals’ Aaron Volpatti, resulting in a face-smashing concussion.

Other than the obvious fact that the Flyers are now missing both players due to Downie’s injury, who really wins this trade? By the numbers, it’s a draw, but long term may change that. Downie has been cast into a hornet’s nest of locker room turmoil, on-ice failure and front office missteps, and that could really put a damper on him. From the looks of things, and the rumor mill on the internet, there were possibly more nefarious reasons that he was traded so abruptly. It’s not like he’s going to rehab therapy anytime soon, but the questionable off-ice issues could be a factor.

Talbot is an energy guy who can really boost a team around him, and when he’s in a winning environment he can really feed off that energy and come to life in ways you wouldn’t expect. With Patrick Roy behind the bench, and everything going right for the Avs, it seems like Talbot will find a good home there, whereas Downie might fade into the rotation of expendable goons that Philly employs. Only time will tell, but in the NHL, strange things could happen.

Scott Huntington is a writer, reporter, blogger, and long-time hockey fan. He currently lives in PA with his wife and son. Scott will posting his thoughts on the NHL throughout the season and you can find him on Twitter @smhuntington 

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