At one point in the 2009-10 offseason it seemed as if utility center Blair Betts and the Philadelphia Flyers were a match made in heaven. But with Friday’s season opener against Carolina creeping closer and Betts still remaining unsigned, it could very well mean any possible deal could be flat lining.
“I don’t know,” Holmgren told the media when asked if a deal would get done with the 29-year old. “We’ll see how it goes over the next day. If we don’t have anything done by tomorrow, it probably won’t happen.”
According to Betts, it’s the Flyers who are holding up the deal.
“I have no idea,” said Betts, when asked about what’s holding up the deal. “As the player, I honestly don’t know.
“[The Flyers] said they need a little bit more time and we are waiting to hear from them.”
On the final day of roster deliberation, former second overall pick James van Riemsdyk told the media that he will be traveling with team to start the season, which begins Friday in Carolina. Traveling with the team on roster deadline day means that he has made the regular-season roster. There has not been an official announcement by the Flyers.
“I’ve been more excited than anything,” van Riemsdyk told the media “It’s been a long camp so far. I think I’ve worked pretty hard and gotten better every day.”
JVR, involved in his first full pro season after departing from the University of New Hampshire, was expected to spend most of the 2009-10 season with the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL. But after a superb preseason in which he scored three goals and one assist in seven games, JVR has impressed the Flyers’ front office and earned himself a spot on the everyday roster.
“I probably surprised a lot of people, not myself,” said JVR. “My goal coming into camp was to be here on opening night. Obviously, I am here now and I still have to keep playing well and earn my spot.”
van Riemsdyk is expected to play alongside center Claude Giroux and a winger to be named later.
During the second intermission of the Flyers’ final preseason game versus the Minnesota Wild, general manager Paul Holmgren held a small press conference saying that Blair Betts being inactive for the final game was simply circumstantial. He also mentioned ongoing meetings with Betts’ agent that include one and two-year deals.
“The fact they we have been talking is a good thing for us,” Holmgren told the media “We’ll see. The saga is not over.”
Three days after being placed on waivers, defenseman Randy Jones has not been picked up, therefore automatically assigning him with the Adirondack Phantoms. The cost-cutting move drops $2.75 million from the Flyers’ roster which gives the team the ability to sign utility forward Blair Betts, which is expected soon. Jones will be replaced by either Ole-Kristian Tollefsen of Danny Syvret.
Also sent down to the Phantoms were Patrick Maroon and Lukas Kaspar.
Betts, a training camp try out, impressed thoroughly in the preseason with his expertise in penalty killing and face offs. Now that Jones’ contract is off the books, a signing is expected before the end of the day.
For much of the preseason, the major roster question was who general manager Paul Holmgren was going to decide to keep with the big club — James van Riemsdyk, Mika Pyorala or Blair Betts. But according to Holmgren, the Flyers want all three.
“If we were submitting rosters tomorrow, yeah, (Pyorala, JVR and Betts) would probably would be on it,” said Holmgren.
The Daily News has confirmed through team sources that the Flyers will waive defenseman Randy Jones sometime this weekend. The move will put the sixth defensive spot up the grabs between Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and Danny Syvret, one of whom will become the seventh defender.
Jones, who has suffered from a chronic hip injury the past two seasons, has had a less than impressive preseason. The sluggish start, matched with his hefty $2.75 cap hit, made him a target to be waived. Jones has one year left on his contract.
Jones spent the last three years as a starter for the Flyers, scoring 61 points in 184 games.
Many skeptics of Dan Carcillo believe that if the aggressive forward chooses to fight over try to be a productive player, than he is no better than a middleweight enforcer on a scoring line.
But if he continues throwing fists like he did against 6-foot-3 Mark Fraser and still remain productive like he was in the Flyers 2-1 win over the Devils Thursday night, he might prove a lot of people wrong.
General manager Paul Holmgren told the media that he expects to make a decision on the fate of Blair Betts sometime after Saturday’s preseason game in New Jersey. He also mentioned that the status of James van Riemsdyk and Mika Pyorala will be decided later in the week, possibly after the final preseason game versus the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
A signing may be brewing in Flyers Land. Up against the 50-contract limit with 49, the Flyers have traded defenseman Patrik Hersley to Nashville for future considerations. The move gives the Flyers 48 contracts, allowing them to possibly sign forward Blair Betts and remain under the limit by one.
Hersley was a low-end prospect currently playing for Modo in Sweden. The 6’3 defenseman spent most of his career in the ECHL, playing just five games for the Phantoms in 2008-09.
In tonight’s preseason debut at the Wachovia Center against the Detroit Red Wings, the Flyers have slimmed down their roster and will be presenting a squad that will look very similar to the one on opening day.
For the first time all preseason, the team will stack its defense with its top-two pairings, partnering Kimmo Timonen with Braydon Coburn and Chris Pronger and Matt Carle.
Simon Gagne will also be making his preseason debut and a groin tweak slowed down his participation in training camp. The longest tenured Flyer will play on a line with Mike Richards and James van Riemsdyk.
Goaltender Ray Emery is expected to play the entire game.
Ryan Bright (Philabright@gmail.com) is a sports writer, born and raised in the Philadelphia area. A graduate of West Chester University, he has been with the Daily Local News in Chester County since early 2007, working as the paper's college and high school ice hockey beat writer. In 2010, began as a contributer for CSNPhilly.com, covering the Flyers and the Philadelphia Union.