Greg Paone

Flyers claim D-man with Stanley Cup experience off waivers

Flyers claim D-man with Stanley Cup experience off waivers

NHL trade deadline day is upon us and Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has made his first move of the day. 

But it's not a trade. Instead, he decided to pluck a veteran defenseman off the waiver wire.

The Flyers on Monday afternoon claimed Johnny Oduya, a 12-year veteran who has played 849 career games with New Jersey, Atlanta/Winnipeg, Chicago, Dallas and Ottawa, off waivers from the Senators team they just beat on Saturday afternoon.

Oduya, who is 36 and has two Stanley Cups from the Blackhawks' glory run (2013 and 2015), brings a trusted presence to the back of the Flyers' defense. He brings with him a $1 million cap hit on a contract that expires after this season.

"It's the experience and he's a proven veteran guy in the dressing room," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said after Monday's morning skate in Montreal prior to his team's game vs. the Canadiens. "He's an outstanding defender and he's very versatile in terms of being able to play either side. 

"I think he certainly brings an element to our group."

Oduya, a native Swede who was a seventh-round pick in the 2001 draft, has 41 goals and 149 assists for 149 points in his regular-season career. He also brings 106 games of postseason experience in which he's posted six goals and 22 assists. And, of course, those two shiny Stanley Cup rings with Chicago.

This season with a stumbling Ottawa club, Oduya has added four goals and four assists in an overage of 17:51 per night in 51 games. In his career, Oduya has averaged 19:54 of ice time per game.

It remains to be seen who is the new odd man out of the Flyers' defensive rotation now that Oduya is on the scene for the stretch run to the playoffs. 

One player who for certain has fallen out of that rotation is Mark Alt, who was claimed off waivers by the Colorado Avalanche on Monday (see story).

The 26-year-old Alt, a 2010 second-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, played nine games with the Flyers, including eight this season, has yet to record a point in the NHL.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Boruk contributed to this story.

Villanova slips as mammoth showdown looms

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Villanova slips as mammoth showdown looms

Jay Wright's Villanova squad is feeling something unfamiliar out on the Main Line on this cloudy Monday.

Yes, the stunning loss to St. John's this past Wednesday is still stinging. Yes, finally conquering the Butler demons is still sinking in. But those aren't it.

For the first time in five weeks, the Wildcats aren't sitting pretty atop the AP poll.

The loss to the Red Storm, which was previously winless in the Big East, pushed the 23-2 Wildcats down to No. 3 in this week's poll.

Virginia, despite a home loss to unranked Virginia Tech on Saturday night, moved up to No. 1 for the first time since 1982. Michigan State, on the strength of a win over then No. 3 Purdue, moved up to No. 2.

Fellow Big East foe Xavier checks in at No. 4 and Cincinnati moved up to No. 5.

Villanova hits the road to Providence on Wednesday night and then heads to Cincy to for a mammoth matchup with 23-3 Xavier on Saturday afternoon at 4:30. As of Monday morning, the Musketeers actually have an edge on the Wildcats for the top seed in the Big East tournament as Xavier has an 11-2 conference record compared to Villanova's 10-2 conference record. Xavier hosts Seton Hall on Wednesday night before the Wildcats come to town.

All the while, Villanova will remain shorthanded without redshirt junior Phil Booth and junior Eric Paschall. Booth is out several more weeks with a broken hand that has yet to be removed from a cast. Paschall is out indefinitely with a concussion and Wright did not sound optimistic at all after Saturday's win over Butler that Paschall would be ready to go at any point this week.

Both Booth, who averages 11.3 points per game, and Paschall, who averages 10.1 points per game, were in the lineup when the 'Cats ran the Musketeers out of the Wells Fargo Center with an 89-65 beatdown in January.

To make Saturday's game even more juicy, both Villanova and Xavier were pegged as top seeds by the NCAA Tournament selection committee in its first rankings of the season, which were released on Sunday. Villanova was the No. 2 overall seed and the top seed in the East Region while Xavier was the No. 3 overall seed and top seed in the Midwest Region.

So, needless to say, there's just a little bit riding on Saturday's showdown.

An exclamation point to cap Claude Giroux's stellar week

An exclamation point to cap Claude Giroux's stellar week

The NHL on Monday afteroon placed a cherry on top of the Flyers' successful week.

After posting three goals and three assists in the Flyers' four victories, captain Claude Giroux was named the NHL's First Star of the week.

Giroux's best performance in a studded week came on Thursday when he potted a power-play goal and two assists in the Flyers' 5-3 victory over the visiting Montreal Canadiens. He also scored against the Coyotes on Saturday and the Golden Knights on Sunday, giving him a goal in three consecutive contests.

Giroux's line with Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny has been on fire lately. In the four games this past week, the trio combined for 16 points (seven goals and nine assists, including a seven-point showing in Vegas on Sunday evening.

The captain's redemption tour after last season's down campaign has showed no signs of slowing down. Giroux is now up to 64 points (good for sixth in the NHL) on the season with 18 goals and 46 assists in 56 games. That's already more than his 58-point showing in 82 games last season.

Calgary Flames star and South Jersey native Johnny Gaudreau was named the second star of the week while Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk was named the third star of the week.