On Thursday, I took a glance at the list of possible free agent centers who could don the Orange and Black for the '07-'08 season. Here's a look at the defensemen (the Flyers other main need):
Kimmo Timonen (Nashville Predators) - The first thing that jumped out at me when researching Kimmo was his age - 32. Are the Flyers willing to give a four or five-year deal to a 32 year-old defenseman? Regardless, Timonen is a great power play quarterback, a role the Flyers definitely need to fill. Timonen also has an accurate shot and can hold his own in the defensive zone. Kimmo also has two Flyers connections. First of all, his younger brother Jussi is playing with their AHL affiliate. The other is that Kimmo co-owns a club in Europe with good friend Sami Kapanen. His next contract? My guess is 4 yrs./$20.4 mil ($5.1 mil/yr.) with Nashville.
Brian Rafalski (New Jersey Devils) - Rafalski, a three-time NHL All-Star, is considered a very intelligent player with great skating ability. He, like Timonen, can also quarterback a power play, but Timonen has the harder, more accurate shot. Rafalski's main weaknesses are: his age (33), his size (5'10", 190 lbs.) and the fact that he can be muscled off the puck easier than others. With his age and with the Devils lack of cap space, Rafalski could bolt to another team. His next contract? My guess is 5 yrs./$27.0 mil ($5.4 mil/yr.) with Columbus.
Sheldon Souray (Montreal Canadiens) - Souray tallied 26 goals this past season, including an amazing 19 on the PP. He has a big shot and he's not afraid to use it. Although he has an excellent offensive game, his defense is suspect. He is prone to getting beat one-on-one and also takes too many bad penalties. Teammate Andrei Markov is also a UFA, but is more likely to be re-signed by the Habs. His next contract? My guess is 4 yrs./$19.2 mil ($4.8 mil/yr.) with Colorado.
Andrei Markov (Montreal Canadiens) - Markov may not be quite as prolific of a goal-scorer as Souray, but for a defenseman, he sure holds his own. He too is armed with a powerful shot and can quarterback a PP. However, he is a little more mistake and injury-prone. Markov, 28, is also two years younger than his teammate Souray. His next contract? My guess is 5 yrs./$21.5 mil ($4.3 mil/yr.) with Montreal.
Tom Preissing (Ottawa), David Tanabe (Carolina), Andy Sutton (Atlanta), Scott Hannan (San Jose), Craig Rivet (San Jose), Brent Sopel (Vancouver), Mathieu Schneider (Detroit), Aaron Miller (L.A.), Darryl Sydor (Dallas), Roman Hamrlik (Calgary), Brad Stuart (Calgary), Josef Melichar (Pittsburgh), Cory Sarich (Tampa Bay), Tom Poti (N.Y. Islanders), Martin Skoula (Minnesota), Vitaly Vishnevski (Nashville), Danny Markov (Detroit), Chris Chelios (Detroit), Ossi Vanaanen (Colorado).