PHILADELPHIA – The disappointment of not landing Shea Weber may still be lingering for many fans, but for the Flyers, there’s no time to brood.
There are tweaks to the roster that are needed, and general manager Paul Holmgren isn’t going to waste time cursing his misfortune.
“Now we move forward and see what we can do,” Holmgren said. “We like our team; we think it's a good, up-and-coming young team, and we will continue to try and add to it and make it better, which is what we tried to do with the offer sheet. We'll move forward.”
Where the Flyers go from here remains to be seen, but it seems unlikely that the Flyers will pursue any top-end defensemen at this point, even if some big names have been bandied about recently as possible targets.
The Flyers feel they have depth on the blue line and probably wouldn’t be willing to be saddled with prohibitive salaries like that of San Jose’s Dan Boyle or Phoenix Coyote Keith Yandle considering they don’t bring to the mix the same intangibles that Shea Weber did.
“We tried to add, in our minds, one of the best defenseman in the game to a good, young, up-and-coming team, and it didn't work,” Holmgren said. “But that doesn't mean we don't like our defense moving forward. As I said, we have a good up-and-coming young team, and we're trying to add to it without subtracting and we'll continue to try and do that with the mindset that we'll do what we think is necessary to make our team as good as it can be."
And from what it sounds like, Holmgren will be looking to bolster the forward position. He stated that the Flyers are working on signing their own restricted free agent Jakub Voracek and are doing so because they see him as a first line forward.
“We're obviously trying to get Jakub signed, and it's only a matter of time,” Holmgren said. “We envision Jake playing with Claude [Giroux] next year so, that's the way we look at it, so I don't see that as a big hole.”
Yet, Holmgren did add that the Flyers remain interested in signing Shane Doan, if in fact he decides to leave Phoenix – a tough decision for the Coyotes captain since his family has been rooted in Phoenix since the team moved there from Winnipeg in 1996.
"I don't want to put words in Shane's mouth, but I think first and foremost he would like things to work out in Phoenix,” Holmgren said. “I don't believe he is going to do anything until he has some answers in his mind as to what is happening there. I think he is a very loyal guy. He is loyal to Don Maloney, and the Phoenix franchise. I give him kudos for that.
“We will see how it plays out. I think in the end he would rather be in Phoenix in a perfect world. [It's] where his family has been raised. If he is ready to make a move, we have interest.”
Holmgren was also asked about Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan, but he couldn’t answer the question because he’s not allowed to speak about players on other teams. However, there have been rumblings that the two teams have talked turkey, the problem is Anaheim, like everyone else, wants the Flyers to part with their young talent, which Holmgren is not willing to do.
There’s a reason Weber wasn’t traded to the Flyers before the offer sheet. There’s a reason the Flyers didn’t trade for Rick Nash. And right now, there’s a reason the Flyers haven’t acquired Ryan.
Everyone wants Sean Couturier and/or Brayden Schenn. In some instances, Luke Schenn has been requested as well. Either way, the Flyers weren’t interested in moving any of their three young stars.
"We believe we have a good, young team that is only going to continue to get better,” Holmgren said. “What we are trying to do is add to it without trying to take anything away. Anything we have done this summer has been just that.
“A caveat to that is we will look and see what we can do to make our team better, but our mind set is 'We like our team'. So, we are not looking to make big changes, we are looking to add without subtracting. We will see what we can do.”
Holmgren added that he felt there were still moves the Flyers could make through free agency to bolster the team and that a trade, at this point, wasn’t a necessity.
“There are still players out there that don’t require a trade,” he said. “It's July 25th today, there's still plenty of time before we can… rule out anything. We certainly don't want to make any drastic changes, but we are going to continue to look at ways to get better. The object is to have the best team going into training camp and that's what we're going to do. We'll see what happens."
Meanwhile, the Flyers will likely go into camp with a blue line consisting of Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen, Nicklas Grossman, Luke Schenn, Andrej Meszaros and a battle for the sixth and seventh spots between veterans Andreas Lilja and Bruno Gervais and younger guys who gained some experience last year like Marc-Andre Bourdon (still a restricted free agent) and Erik Gustafsson as well as prospect Brandon Manning.
“We looked at (the Weber offer) as an opportunity to add one of the top defensemen, if not the top guy,” Holmgren said. “We took our shot, it didn't work. I love our defense; I love the youth of our defense. We have good size and we have some kids that have a taste now in Marc-Andre, Erik and Brandon Manning as well. We added Bruno Gervais in the summertime, who we really like. We are perfectly happy with our defense right now.
“To try and add a guy like Shea Weber, doesn't really speak to anything other than maybe you are adding one of the best guys in the league.”
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