For the Flyers, clearing the crease and slot has been a major problem in the last month, so on Thursday they made a deal they hope will help solve those woes.

They acquired Dallas defenseman Nicklas Grossman, a rugged 6-foot-4, 230-pounder, for second- and third-round draft picks. The second-round 2012 pick was acquired from Los Angeles in the Mike Richards trade, and the 2013 third-rounder came from Minnesota for Darroll Powe.

"He's really going to give us a boost in our own zone," said general manager Paul Holmgren, adding that Grossman figures to be used on a regular shift and on the penalty kill.

Grossman, 27, a second-round draft selection in 2004, should be in the lineup Saturday against Pittsburgh. He is a stay-at-home defenseman who is difficult to play against.

Grossman has averaged about 19 minutes a game and blocked a team-high 100 shots this season. The blocked-shots total would place him third on the Flyers. He had five assists and was even in plus-minus.

After the season, Grossman ($1.625 million cap hit) can become an unrestricted free agent.

Asked if it was unlikely he would make a major move before the Feb. 27 trade deadline, Holmgren paused for a few seconds.

"Unlikely? I don't know if I'd use that word, but it's probably not something we're talking about at length," he said. "I like our team. We've struggled here of late. We're trying to get it figured out. I think adding Nick is going to help us, and we'll see what the next 10 days and two weeks brings."

Used on Dallas' penalty-killing and power-play units, Grossman will give the Flyers some much-needed physicality.

Entering Thursday, the Flyers' penalty-killing units had allowed five goals in the last two games.

"We've struggled in a lot of areas here lately. That's certainly one of them," Holmgren said. "Nick has developed over time there in Dallas. He's still a young player. He's a good young player. We're excited. He's going to give us a boost here and get us out of our end quickly. He's got a good first pass."

Holmgren was asked about the Flyers' lack of physicality on defense.

"Since the lockout, the game has changed. For defensemen, it's very difficult to defend in front of your net," he said. "If you knock somebody down, a lot of time you're going to the box. A lot of our guys are more containment-type defensemen. They've never really been Chris Prongerish, where they're going to whack somebody.

"I think Nick - I don't think he's a mean player, but he's a physical, competitive player that is going to help us."

JVR 'close'

Winger James van Riemsdyk, who has not played since Jan. 12 because of a concussion, is "getting close," Holmgren said. "It's hard to put a time frame on it just because of the injury he has. It just comes down to how James is feeling."

Breakaways

After missing one game because of an unspecified injury, Jakub Voracek returned to the lineup. . . . Eric Wellwood was recalled from the Phantoms and began the night on a line with Jody Shelley and Tom Sestito. Wellwood has recovered from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for six weeks earlier this season. . . . Buffalo's Ville Leino returned to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time since he played for the Flyers last season. Leino, who signed a six-year, $27 million contract in the off-season, began the night with just four goals and has not found the chemistry he had with Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell.