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.
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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:
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.
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