The Flyers were forced to sign the defenseman due to two major injuries on the blue line. The team learned last week that both Braydon Coburn and Andrew MacDonald would each miss four weeks due to lower body injuries.
Ron Hextall, the Flyers general manager, had called up prospect Shayne Gostisbehere from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Flyers AHL affiliate. Gostisbehere played in just two games and was used very little in those games. The young defenseman needs more time in the AHL to develop, and the signing of Colaiacovo will give him the time in the minors that he needs.
The Flyers had also called up defenseman Brandon Manning from the Phantoms, and he played his first game of the season with the Flyers last night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He looked okay and even added an assist, but it will be nice for the Flyers to have a veteran to fill in on the blue line.
Colaiacovo, 31, spent last season with the St. Louis Blues. He had one goal, three assists, four points, and was a minus four in 25 games played. He has never played a full 82-game season in his 11-year career, but the Flyers won’t need him to do that. The defenseman has 31 goals, 113 assists, is a plus five, and has averaged 17:43 of ice time per game in 401 career games played.
He was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. In his six years with the Maple Leafs, he had 12 goals, 21 assists, 33 points, and averaged 17:05 of ice time per game. He was traded to the Blues, along with Alex Steen in 2008 in exchange for Lee Stempniak.
He spent the next four season with the Blues, and then signed with the Detroit Red Wings for the 2012-13 season, before returning to the Blues last season. In five total seasons with the Blues, Colaiacovo has 19 goals, 91 assists, 110 points, was a plus nine, while averaging 17:56 of ice time per game.
In his one season with the Red Wings, he played in only six games. In those six games, the defenseman only registered one point, an assist, was a minus four and had 18:54 of ice time per game.
Colaiacovo can play at even strength and on the power play, which should help the Flyers. The team is looking for another defeseman to pair with Michael Del Zotto on the second power play unit with the injury to MacDonald. He has some puck-moving skills, which could help him become an asset to the second power play unit.
He is sound positionally and doesn’t often get beat while one-on-one with the opposing player. Colaiacovo has decent skating ability but he is injury prone. He has limited offensive ability and can make mistakes in his own end.
He has three weeks to prove that he can still play at a high level in the NHL before he becomes the Flyers eighth defenseman on the roster.