When forward Steve Downie was traded to Tampa Bay early last offseason for defenseman Matt Carle, many believed it to be a sign that the Flyers’ organization had finally given up on dealing with his disciplinary issues on and off the ice. But after a year in Tampa Bay, a newly reformed Downie is starting to see the results of a more mature attitude.
“My goal was to be in the best physical shape and the best possible situation for me. I’ve done that,” said Downie, who benefited greatly from a summer conditioning program. “I’m just going to let things take care of itself. It’s not my job to worry about where I’m going to play or what my role is going to be. I’m just here to work on my game and get better. I end up where I end up.”
It was reported but not confirmed that defenseman Steve Eminger would attend Flyers’ training camp as a try out, similar to what Bryan Berard did last season before signing in the KHL. But I have been told by a Flyers source very close to the situation that there is “No truth to the rumor at this time.” Eminger may still receive an open invite to try out at training camp, but contrary to rumored reports nothing is official
Eminger signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia last offseason, but was traded to Tampa Bay with Steve Downie for defenseman Matt Carle. He was then traded to Florida. Eminger is a unrestricted free agent, but has yet to sign with any team. He scored 23 points in 50 games with the Lightning.
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 days of speculation that former Flyers’ goalie Antero Niittymaki was headed to Tampa Bay, on Friday the Lightning made it official, they have officially signed Niittymaki. The deal is for one year, just under $600,000.
“We fully recognized the need to add an experienced back-up goaltender this summer and today we feel we’ve accomplished that goal,” said Tampa General Manager Brian Lawton.
Niittymaki had not signed a contract with a Russian team, unlike what was reported.
For more on the Niittymaki situation click here