Thursday, July 26, 2012

Flyers gift Voracek with new contract

There was never much doubt that the Flyers were going to sign Jakub Voracek to a new contract. He was a restricted free agent, and if a player isn't on the level of a Shea Weber, teams simply don't commit themselves to trying to steal some other team's property.
Besides, Voracek, at just 22, showed enough potential last season to warrant a lot of financial attention from the club that was happy to have him. While it took a while, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren finally sealed a deal with Voracek today, signing the power forward to a four-year contract, reportedly worth $17 million. That would post Voracek's salary cap hit of $4.25 million second only to Danny Briere ($6.5 million) among Flyers forwards.
It would also be indicative of the commitment that the Flyers feel they have to make to their young core group of forwards. Said one management source: "We are at a point where we have to let our young players grow."
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren had said in a conference call Tuesday that he considered Voracek as the front-runer to replace the fellow Czech player he grew up idolizing, Jaromir Jagr, on the top line next to center Claude Giroux. This contract could be construed as supporting that notion.
"We are happy to have Jake under contract and look forward to him being a big part of our future," Holmgren said in a statement Wednesday.
The 6-2, 215-pound Voracek scored 18 goals and registered 49 points with the Flyers last season after coming to Philadelphia from Columbus in the Jeff Carter deal. He continued to produce in the playoffs, with two goals and 10 points.
While Voracek clearly appears to be an important part of the Flyers' future, having him under contract might also be attractive to a prospective trading partner at some point in the future. But they certainly seem willing to give him a chance to grow in their ranks first.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Holmgren 'disappointed' he missed out on Weber

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said today he was "disappointed" when he found out Tuesday afternoon that Nashville had matched the Flyers' offer sheet for restricted free agent defenseman Shea Weber.
"We took a shot," Holmgren said. "It didn't work."
Holmgren, as has been the case, continued to talk optimistically about his team and expressed repeatedly how much he liked it. He tried to put forward the idea that he was especially enamored with his defense, which will be without concussed Chris Pronger and suffered a very significant loss when Matt Carle signed with Tampa Bay. The Flyers did acquire Bruno Gervais, who has never established himself as a top-four (or even five) type of defender.
But Holmgren said his efforts to get Weber shouldn't be construed as any knock against his current defensive alignment.
"I really like our defense," Holmgren said. "What we tried to do was add one of the best players in the league to our team. We're trying to add to it without subtracting."
To that end, Holmgren might also have been implying that any future trading efforts would not include primary building pieces such as Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn. So despite Holmgren's obvious interest in trying to get sniper Bobby Ryan out of Anaheim, doing so without dealing one of his young core players seems out of the question.
Other than that, the Flyers likely will try to swing something to improve the defense Holmgren likes so much. Dan Boyle might be graying and has a pricey contract, but that's one veteran that could help.
Holmgren also admitted he retains interest in free agent forward Shane Doan, but said he expects him to re-sign with Phoenix. That said ... "If he's ready to make a move," Holmgren said, "we'd be interested."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Preds match Flyers' offer for Weber

So Shea Weber's ploy worked. He had his agent work up a contract deal with the defensive-stud hungry Flyers, then as he'd suspected all along ... played his gamble out to perfection.
I'm surprised that so many people are surprised that Nashville matched the Flyers' 14-year, $110 million offer to Weber that was heavily frontloaded with signing bonus money.
Nashville is by its nature small market, but the Predators have a lot riding on Weber's leadership, especially with Ryan Suter going away via free agency. The Preds had a lot of cash on hand and they are using it the right way -- keeping their franchise building block.
Interesting to see whether that offer will be supplemented with a no trade clause deal.
As for the Flyers ... the search continues.
No way Paul Holmgren, et. al. is happy with club as it currently stands. Need for physical defenseman -- while alleviated somewhat by Luke Schenn acquisition -- is still there. So is the need for a stud winger next to Claude Giroux.
To me -- that's a bigger need considering what's currently available. The Flyers need to put together a pitch for Bobby Ryan, though if Anaheim still wants Sean Couturier and/or Brayden Schenn, that's almost certainly not happening.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Leighton back with Flyers amid free agency follies


It is a scene Michael Leighton isn't going to soon forget.
Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, the Flyers hanging on against the skilled Chicago Blackhawks at home, in an overtime with elimination awaiting.
Then before most people in the Wells Fargo Center noticed, the Hawks' Patrick Kane slung a shot from the corner at an almost 90-degree angle ... and it went through Leighton and into the net to win the championship for Chicago.
"Obviously I think about it," Leighton said Sunday. "When you're that close to a Stanley Cup and you lose that way, it's tough. I'm sure it's going to be on my mind the rest of my life."
But Leighton would go on to say he also is a better goalie because of that Stanley Cup setback, and it has helped him return to the point where he is now ... right back with the Flyers as their new backup goaltender.
Leighton, who has spent most of the past two years regaining his health and his game with the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League, was re-signed Sunday by the Flyers to a one-year, one-way contract worth $900,000. It means he will back up Ilya Bryzgalov, a guy he knows and a goalie he respects.
It also means that fate could deal Leighton another hand in the Flyers' never ending quest to win it all again.
"I'm excited," Leighton said. "The past two seasons, I think, I was put in a spot because of injuries. I understand what Homer did and why he had to do it. It was obviously tough for me. But I’m happy about coming back to the NHL. I’m excited, and for me to be a backup, I’ve done it before. I’ve just got to work hard and show the team that I’m ready to go in if they need me."
And if that time again comes in the playoffs due to an injury to Bryzgalov? If that happens, Leighton promises he'll be more than ready this time. Looking back on that unfortunate Kane goal, Leighton said, "In a way I think it’s helped me.  It’s made me change a few things about my game and make sure that it doesn’t happen again.  I’ve been working on my game the last two years.  But no, it’s not something that’s going to go away.  Maybe if I win the Stanley Cup next year it’ll go away. There’s a lot of fans that are still sour about it, and obviously I’m not happy about the way things went either, but what happened happened, and I have to move on in my life.”