With the memorable 2009-10 season complete with the Stanley Cup still not in Philadelphia, attention is now immediately turned to next year’s Flyers team and what, if anything, will change with regards to personnel.
During the “clean-out” day on Friday morning, Philly general manager Paul Holmgren made one thing clear — whether minor or major, change is coming.
Philadelphia Inquirer writer Sam Carchidi reported from the media day that Holmgren said it was “Highly unlikely” that this Flyers team stays intact moving into next season. That brings up the question of who is on the outs and who might come in?
With the free agent period opening on July 1, all eyes will be glued to the NHL Entry Draft held in Los Angeles on June 25-26. Although the Flyers do not have a draft pick in the first or second rounds (2010 first rounder sent to Anaheim for Chris Pronger and 2010 second rounder sent to Los Angeles in exchange for eating the contract of defenseman Denis Gauthier), expect the Flyers to be active anyway.
With the rumored $2 million added to the cap ceiling, the Flyers find themselves just shy of $10 million under the cap with 11 forwards, five defense and one goalie under contract. Knowing that, here is the Flyers lineup under contract for 2010-11.
Jeff Carter ($5.0) – Mike Richards ($5.75) – Simon Gagne ($5.25)
Ville Leino ($.800) – Danny Briere ($6.5) – Scott Hartnell ($4.2)
James van Riemsdyk ($1.654) – Claude Giroux ($.821) – None
Ian Laperriere ($1.166) – Blair Betts ($.700) – None
Riley Cote ($.550)
Out of Contract
Dan Carcillo (RFA $.900)
Darroll Powe (RFA $ .500)
Arron Asham (UFA $.600)
Matt Carle ($3.437) – Chris Pronger ($4.921)
None – Kimmo Timonen ($6.33)
Oskars Bartulis ($.600) – None
Out of Contract
Ryan Parent (RFA $.900)
Braydon Coburn (RFA $1.3)
Lukas Krajicek (UFA $.700)
Danny Syvret (UFA $.600)
Brian Boucher ($.925)
Johan Backlund ($TBD)
Out of Contract
Ray Emery (UFA $1.5)
Michael Leighton (UFA $.600)
It is clear by looking at the available roster that the Flyers have one too many centers and not enough wingers, especially if they let Arron Asham walk. Philly loves the size of Jeff Carter down the middle compared to the other potential pivots, but dare they mess with the successful playoff formula of Danny Briere centering Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino? Carter, like Claude Giroux has proven to be less effective when he doesn’t get a touch on every shift. Something for the front office to think about as they move forward.
Free Agency Notes
– Coach Peter Laviolette favors guys who will play and excel in his face-paced, condition-based system, which may very well dictate what Holmgren does in the offseason. UFA wingers to be — Mark Recchi and Ray Whitney, may get a long look by the Flyers as they have a history — winning the cup in Carolina — with Laviolette.
– By evidence of Holmgren bringing in big-hitting defenseman Andrew Alberts in 2009-10 and the always-truculent Ole-Kristien Tollefsen last offseason, the Flyers like to have at least one big, heavy hitting defenseman in the ranks. Depending on what Holmgren does to improve his cap situation, expect the team to be in search of a surly depth blue liner. Free agent’s Andy Sutton, Derek Morris and Dan Hamuis will be available but depending on the market, could prove to be expensive.
– Toward the end of the regular season, Daily Times writer Anthony Sanfilippo had a source mention that the Flyers will be hunting for a young goaltender in the offseason. Should that come to be true, it would rule out high-priced aging targets Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov. However, it would open up the possibility for a trade, as young talented goaltenders typically don’t hit free agency.
One free-agent option could be former Nashville goaltender Dan Ellis (29), who lost his starting job to Pekke Rinne even after posting a 2.69 goals against with a .909 save percentage, which ranked higher than Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury and LA’s Jonathan Quick. Ellis made $1.75 million last season.
With 25-year-old RFA backstop Jaro Halak in the driver’s seat and up for a nice new contract in Montreal, 22-year-old RFA goalie Carey Price’s rights will likely be placed on the trading block by the Habs. Price made $2.2 million last season.
The Kings, like the Canadiens, have a problem that many teams would love to have — too many good goalies. Jonathan Quick, who finished sixth in the league in wins last season, was never the long-term answer in net for the Kings. Groomed for the starting position since day one was 21-year-old Jonathan Bernier, who may be the top-ranked goaltender not yet in the NHL. Depending on where the Kings decide they want to go with their gluttonous situation, one of two may be up for grabs. However, for anyone interested they won’t come cheap.