Flyers Defenseman Andreas Lilja Has Hip Surgery, Will Be Out Four Months
Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images
By Charlie O’Connor (@THG_Charlie)
The thinning of the Philadelphia Flyers’ defense has been a major subplot of the offseason, with Matt Carle departing for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Andrej Meszaros suffering an Achilles injury that could keep him out for most, if not all, of the regular season.
This morning, there was more bad news.
Andreas Lilja, who functioned as the team’s sixth defenseman through a significant portion of the 2011-12 season, underwent hip surgery and will miss at least four months, according to Linus Ahlin of the Swedish newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad.
Lilja played 46 games for the Flyers in 2011-12, finishing with zero goals and six assists. He posted a plus/minus of +9, but ranked 8th among Flyers defensemen in the puck possession statistic Corsi, while facing the weakest competition on the team.
Hockeybuzz’s Bill Meltzer noted that the Swedish-language report stated that Lilja had suffered hip pain during regular seasons in the past, but that the pain usually went away in the summer. This summer, however, the pain lingered, and a doctor diagnosed Lilja with a degenerative hip condition.
The four-month timeline would place Lilja on track to return sometime in December. However, the 37 year-old defenseman’s recovery process potentially could last longer, due to his age.
The injury opens the door for Erik Gustafsson, Marc-Andre Bourdon, and Brandon Manning, the three young defensemen highest on the Flyers’ depth chart. Prior to Lilja’s injury, Philadelphia had room for only one extra defenseman, assuming they planned to keep both Lilja and free agent signing Bruno Gervais on the roster.
Now, at least two spots are open, including a starting role as the sixth defenseman on the depth chart, behind Kimmo Timonen, Brayden Coburn, Nicklas Grossmann, Luke Schenn, and the aforementioned Gervais.