The Flyers kept the depth forward signings rolling on Saturday, by inking right winger Jason Ward to a one-year, $500,000 deal. The contract is two way.
Ward, the 11th overall pick in the 1997 NHL entry draft, has played 336 NHL games with four teams in his career and has 36 goals and 45 assists in that time. Ward is a capable depth forward, with a suitable a two-way game and an ability to use his 6’2, 210 lbs. frame to his advantage. The 30-year old journeyman has also been touted as an excellent teammate and hard worker.
Ward will likely be the 13th forward on the team, traveling with the big club and playing as an injury call up. Outside of some younger players, the Flyers don’t have much as far as NHL capable forward depth goes. Last week, Philly signed defensive forward Mika Pyorala and AHL standout Krys Kolanos to similar deals.
After expressing interest in adding a blue liner before the start of the season, the Carolina Hurricanes have picked up former Bruin and Flyers’ defenseman Andrew Alberts for two years, $1.05 million cap hit.
“Andrew is a big, physical defenseman who should be just coming into his prime at the NHL level,” said Carolina GM Jim Rutherford. “He had a good year for the Flyers after suffering an injury the previous season, and should help solidify our blue line with his defensive presence.”
After being traded to the Flyers early in the 2008-09 season, the 6’5 defenseman had a good year, ranking third on the team in blocked shots with 133 and first in hits with 157. It is likely the Flyers did not want to see Alberts walk, but with Matt Carle and Randy Jones eating copious amount of cap money, the decision to let Alberts go was necessary.
Photo courtesy of Fred Trask and the Houston Press
The Flyers continued to add forward depth on Wednesday, adding former Wild forward Krystofer Kolanos to the mix. Kolanos spent most of the 2008-09 season with the Houston Aeros of the AHL, scoring 51 points in 45 games. His production in the minors earned him a cup of coffee with the Wild, where he scored three goals and three assists in 21 games.
The details of the signing have not yet been released, but it is likely a two-way deal.
The addition of the former19th overall selection in 2000, is likely just for depth reasons, as his lack of consistency and defensive play may hold him back. However, just like most of General Manager Paul Holmgren’s offseason moves, he continues to try to strike it rich with a low risk, high reward pick up.
According to the always reliable Bill Meltzer, the Flyers have inked Finnish center Mika Pyorala to a deal. Terms are yet to be disclosed.
Pyorala is noted for his two-way game and the ability to play multiple positions. According to Bill, who is an expert on European talent, Pyorala is at most a third-line player in the NHL, but could be a decent find.
The 28-year old scored 21 goals and 22 assists in 55 games last season with Timra, of the SEL. The knock on Mika may be his size. Listed at 6-0, 175 lbs., he needs to put on some weight if he plans on staying in the NHL.
Although increasingly likely, it is still unclear whether Pyorala is in the Flyers’ plans to play for the big club in 2009-10, but it would fit the shut-down center role the team desperately desires.
Newly appointed goalie coach Jeff Reese, has spent little time in Philadelphia outside of looking at houses with his wife. But even after limited sessions with new Flyers’ goalie Ray Emery, Reese’s first order of duty includes calming the aggressive backstop.
“We’ve been on the ice twice and he’s really itching to go,” said Reese about Emery. “He’s really itching to get back in there he has been off awhile. My only concern is that I don’t want him to overdue it. He’s so hungry to get back and to prove himself, we don’t want him to burn out.”
It is no secret that the Flyers are shopping for one more proven forward before the 2009-10 season. But what that piece will be is still to be determined.
The debate rages as to what position the Flyers need to fill more, face off specialist or scoring winger. Depending on projected line combinations, an argument can be made for both. And according to Director of Player Development Don Luce, the team is simply looking for the best player available.
“I wouldn’t value one (position) over the other,” Luce said. “They both bring value if you can get the right guy at either position. We have to target who is available.”
Over the past week, there has been a constant rumor floating around that Lukas Kasper, former Shark and 22nd overall in the 2004 NHL entry draft, has a tentative deal with the Flyers or more accurately, the Adirondack Phantoms. A deal has not yet been announced by the team, however, talking to Director of Player Personnel Don Luce on Monday at the Flyers’ practice facility in Voorhees, N.J., it’s clear the Flyers are aware of the situation.
“He is unrestricted, but we don’t know yet,” said the tight-lipped Luce, about Lukas. “We are always interested in players that can come in and help.”
When asked if the rumors were true concerning Kaspar to the Phantoms, Luce laughed and said “You will have to wait for the release.” quickly following his statement with, “If there is one.”
The body language that Luce presented made it clear that he was aware of the situation, but he still refused to make a comment. And although there has been no resolution to the rumors, it is evident that Philadelphia is involved in the pursuit of the 22-year old Czech. But if they will land him still remains to be seen.
Last season at the trade deadline, General Manager Paul Holmgren made the controversial move to trade well-liked forward Scottie Upshall to Phoenix for pugilist Daniel Carcillo. Philly fans griped and the media groaned over the state of the Flyers and their salary cap, which forced their hand in dishing the restricted free-agent to be Upshall for seemingly lesser talent. But as the Coyotes continue to struggle to sign the speedy winger, it seems Holmgren knew something that most of the public didn’t at the time. He knew Scottie wanted to get paid.
“We’re still just a little ways apart,” Phoenix GM Don Maloney told Jim Gintonio of the Arizona Republic. “(Upshall) thinks he’s a 30-goal scorer, and we’re saying, ‘Score 30, and then we’ll pay you- we’re not going to pay your prior to that.’ ”
According to an overseas source and now this NHL free agency site, the Flyers may have come to terms with 6’2, 225 lbs., Czech forward Lukas Kaspar. Kaspar was drafted 22nd overall in the 2004 NHL entry draft by the San Jose Sharks.
Due to some inconsistency and forward depth on San Jose at the time, the power forward played just 16 games with the Sharks, scoring four points during that span. Primarily an AHLer with the Worchester Sharks, Kaspar verbally agreed to a deal with Dynamo of the KHL after the 2008-09 season in which he tallied 17 goals and 27 assists in 65 games. However, sources say that Kaspar couldn’t deny the offer the Flyers made. Terms were not disclosed and official word could be pending a physical.
As per a rough translation…
“(Kaspar) had already decided to continue a career in Europe and in particular the KHL. But then came to Philadelphia “Flyers’ offer, which Kaspar was unable to refuse.”
Kaspar is known for his ability to use his large frame, as well as possess a decent shot and some passing ability. He isn’t likely in the Flyers’ plans for this year, as he could be another low-risk, high-reward type acquisition that General Manager Paul Holmgren likes to make. However, if Holmgren dares give him a one-way contract, which would keep him from being sent to the AHL without permission, he could be placed on the wing of a scoring line and could potentially be a 15-20 goal guy considering his skill set.
But if the contract is two-way, the Flyers, who do not have a lot of forward size in the system, could use Kaspar as a player who could can step into the lineup in case of emergency.
I’m working to confirm this rumor and will have more hopefully soon.
It slipped under the radar for most, but the Flyers have signed 6’6, 220 lbs., AHL defenseman Joey Mormina. Mormina was originally drafted out of Colgate University by the Flyers in the sixth round of the 2002 NHL entry draft. His rights were not retained at the time and he hopped around the AHL, going from the Manchester Monarchs to the Albany River Rats and eventually the WBS Penguins. Mormina played one game in the NHL for the Carolina Hurricanes.
27-year old Mormina is a shut-down defender with a mean streak and physical presence. He registered over 200 penalty minutes from 2006-07 to 2007-08. When he was signed by Pittsburgh last season, he was touted as a poor-man’s Hal Gill. He scored 48 points in his four season in the minors.
This move is simply depth for the Flyers, who still have Danny Syvret, Michael Ratchuk and Kevin Marshall still high on the defensive depth chart.