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Bringing Hexy Back • 42 Years Old • Male
Sunday at noon, the NHL will start an orgy of money tossing. Clubs from New York to Edmonton will be looking to add that big name to sell extra tickets, find that last piece to a hopeful Stanley Cup puzzle or simply upset their fan base, like in the case of Toronto's John Ferguson Jr.

That brings me to my point. Paul Holmgren, GM of the Flyers has already added two key parts to improve his hockey club for next season. He's done the work with club president Peter Luukko, and they have done a better than expected job. They have taken a slow, old team with cap issues and added young players like Scottie Upshall, Scott Hartnell, Braydon Coburn and Ryan Parent. He's also got a solid crop of kids that are near ready to step in in Claude Giroux, Steve Downie, Ryan Potulny and Alexandre Picard.

Hell, they even acquired a solid NHL goalie who is in his prime in Martin Biron. They also added a vital component to replace the retired Eric Desjardins as the leader on defense in Kimmo Timonen.

Now, my message is to Homer and Luukko is this-make a reasonable offer, say five years at $6.5mm to Daniel Briere or/or Scott Gomez-and say take it or leave it. There's no need or reason to get into a bidding war with the Rangers or whomever else and make ridiculous offers for guys who will not arrive and make the Flyers instant contenders.

Neither Briere or Gomez do.

The Flyers have a group of good young centers that were untouchable a year ago. Jeff Carter projects as a first line center. Mike Richards and Potulny project as good second line centers. Why Block them? We heard all this noise about building from within and being smart with the youth, well, let's live up to it.

My suggestion? If Briere and/or Gomez rejects the fair offer I proposed then I'd go after Michael Nylander and Michal Handzus. Offer Nylander a deal for three years, and Handzus one for four-neither should cost more than $4mm-$4.5mm if you make them a priority. You get a capable playmaker to play with Gagne and Knuble or Hartnell on the top line.

Carter is still on track to take over as the top line center in a couple years and Handzus gives you the good face-off man that was sorely lacking last year as well as a very responsible defensive guy with offensive ability, that can fill a top line role for a period if need be.

That's two guys filling vital roles that would cost around as much as Briere or Gomez would supposedly cost alone.

Sign Nylander and Handzus. Hang onto Pitkanen unless you get a great offer for him. Dump Geoff Sanderson, even if it gets to a buy out situation.

That gives you a roster that looks like this:

Gagne-Nylander-Knuble
Hartnell-Carter-Upshall
Umberger-Richards-Kapanen
Eager-Handzus-Downie/Cote/??

Timonen-Gauthier
Hatcher-Coburn
Pitkanen-Kukkonen
Jones

Biron
Niittymaki


On paper, that could be a solid playoff team. Not as sexy, maybe, as it would be with Briere or Gomez, but deeper and not as reliant on a handful of guys to provide the bulk of the offense.
Filed Under:   Flyers   Holmgren   Free Agents   Nylander   Jsaq  
June 29, 2007 8:32 AM ET | Delete
I have been saying this for weeks, and it has to be one of the truest bits of writing I have seen. Signing the big names might sell more tickets, but signing the right ones will win hockey games.
June 29, 2007 9:53 AM ET | Delete
Handzus is not going to play on the 4th line - not for the money he is looking for, Nylander is not a bad move. I think Richards is overvalued and undertalented - keep him as a third line guy for now to see how he develops - Carter most likely will never rise above 2nd line.....adding a guy like Briere or Gomez is also a psychological move for the rest of the team as it gives them hope - not sure Nylander can do that and it might force more pressure on the younger guys - see Pitkanen last year - its not pretty....
June 29, 2007 9:56 AM ET | Delete
I like the looks of that lineup. How has Zeus's health been though? Paying Zeus $4M to be on the 4th line is a little much as well.
June 29, 2007 10:57 AM ET | Delete
The $4 mil might not be a bad investment in Zues really. It depends on how you play him. If he really is the checking line, going against oppositions #1 lines, I might not have a problem with it. Plus if you add to it that he would play powerplays and penalty kills, I might be swayed a bit. Below are a couple of other centers I would make a run at who would make considerabally less:Viktor Kozlov (Isles, 51 points, made 865k last year)Jozef Stumpel (Panthers, 57 points, made 1.5 mil last year)Brett McLean (Avalanche, 35 points, made 750k last year)Any of those 3 guys would be a bargin to add to the roster instead of Zues.
June 29, 2007 12:02 PM ET | Delete
Totally agree, except for Zeus (as much as I like him). Nylander is a great option and I wouldn't mind overpaying for him and do 2 years instead of 3. There are very few players out there that can really change the dynamic of a team and would be worth the $7-8 mil. $8 mil is Crosby or Ovechkin money, not Gomez, Breire or Drury.
June 29, 2007 12:54 PM ET | Delete
Couldn't agree more, but Zeus is too much$ for 4th line. I'm not looking for any of (Gomez, Briere, Drury) at 7-8M$. Next year's UFA's are much more worht it when your younger players are 1 more year further developed to make a Cup run.
June 29, 2007 2:18 PM ET | Delete
Point taken on Handzus on the fourth line, but I don't really see the team having a set fourth line. I see a lot of fluidity and line mixing anyhow, and Handzus' intangibles, IMO, are worth it. Thanks for the input.
July 1, 2007 1:18 AM ET
I miss Zeus: he was a great checking line center in the old NHL and he was often the only Flyer to be able to win the pucks in the corners, BUT in his last year with us, he was getting very fragile (oh the back) and he was embarrassed in the 1st round playoff exit courtesy of Buffalo. He's one of the slowest players I've ever seen. When he got to a puck in the offensive zone he could battle in the corners, but as soon as it squirted out going the other way, he took forever to get back. He had a great start in Chicago with Havlat, and then was injured the rest of the way. If we don't want to resign Forsberg, we certainly can't afford Handzus in and out of the lineup. And you can't just put Carter on the 1st line: he's not ready. So Handzus doesn't fit. Nylander is a much better fit for us as a 1st line center.The truth is that the Flyers have a problem: Richards is not a checking line center. He's got the will, but he's much, much too small to control forwards. He's a future 2nd line center. Carter is a future 1st line center, but he needs at least another year or three on the 2nd line. So no one wants to lose either --including me-- but it makes a mess of things. We have two 2nd line centers, and no 1st liner, and no checking liner (not even a Wayne Primeau). And neither Richards nor Carter could play wing when we tried it.I hate to lose either one, but what would probably be ideal would be to trade one of them for Marleau, and then put Marleau on the top line, and sign or develop a checking line center (maybe a 1 year deal for Peca?). Or live with Richards as checking center, and trade our new 1st rounder and Pitkanen for Marleau.
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