VOORHEES, N.J. – Historically, the Flyers have been a team that, come July, is not apt to sign its own unrestricted free agents.
Historically, by that point, they have already decided who they want on their roster and who they don’t, and if they have haven’t re-signed a guy before Draft weekend in June it means they are going in another direction.
Go back through the Flyers history and see how many of those you find that re-signed with the team. There aren’t very many at all.
So, when the Flyers reached the start of unrestricted free agency in July, it was a good bet that the unrestricted free agent players left on their roster would be finding work elsewhere for the 2013-14 season.
Then, on July 4, the day before the start of free agency, while the Flyers were wooing Vincent Lecavalier and Ray Emery, there was a subtle – and rare – re-signing of their own free agent.
Kind of flying under the radar, the Flyers inked Adam Hall to a new contract. It was for one year and is worth $600,000.
The 33-year-old Hall became the 25th Flyer on a one-way contract, a number that is two more than the Flyers will ultimately carry on the opening day roster, but Hall seems to be the replacement for Ruslan Fedotenko on the Flyers roster.
|Adam Hall brings veteran depth to the Flyers roster, which is why Paul Holmgren decided to bring him back for another season. |
See, he will be the fourth line guy who can kill penalties and is a big-time upgrade in the faceoff circle, where he has statistically been one of the better draws in the NHL (59 percent in just 11 games with the Flyers last season).
“It was a no-brainer to come back here,” Hall said. “I believe in the core that we have here. It was disappointing not making the playoffs last year but I think that’s going to be the incentive to come out and have a big year for this group.”
Hall also adds another element that was definitely a target for the Flyers this summer – veteran leadership.
While additions like Vincent Lecavalier and Mark Streit were captains of their former teams, general manager Paul Holmgren also wanted to make sure that other additions – like Ray Emery and Hall – were players who have been around the NHL and are well-respected in the locker room.
Hall was a teammate of Lecavalier’s in Tampa Bay and thinks that the Flyers locker room, which, while immensely talented is still quite young, can benefit from an influx of veteran experience and guidance.
“Vinny’s an incredible teammate,” Hall said. “He’s a great offensive talent, but he’s also a hard-worker – that’s the thing. As talented as he is, he works as hard as everyone else – that’s what makes him such a good addition.”
Hall has learned from Lecavalier, and it’s one of the reasons guys like him and Bruno Gervais are already in town working out – far sooner than the rest of their teammates. It’s the evidence that guys who know they’re role on the team is smaller or more limited that others are willing to put in the extra work.
It’s that work ethic that the Flyers are hoping will rub off onto the younger core, that will help them attain their potential quicker, and in turn make the team better.
“It always leaves a sour taste in your mouth when you miss the playoffs but last year was a situation where, because of the lockout, things kind of got thrown together and it didn’t work out,” Hall said. “But with that as motivation, everyone is back into their summer routine, this team was kept together and there’s a lot of chemistry in the locker room already and I think with a full training camp and a lot of talent here, we are poised to have a successful start to this season.”
And that is the first of many goals for the Flyers this season – to have a good start. Because a good start usually leads to a good season that results in a playoff berth, and once you reach the postseason, well, we have learned in the past decade, anything can happen.
That’s why guys like Hall are back with the Flyers. His experiences on several good teams in the past – like Nashville, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay – have taught him the necessary lessons that it takes to become a talented squad.
And while Hall never got to hoist the Stanley Cup, he reached the finals with the Penguins and the conference finals with the Lightning, so he has a good feel for what it takes to get there.
“Anytime you have that experience you gain something from it,” Hall said. “In each situation, the team came off a subpar season the previous year and grew from it. Each year you learn what you have to do differently and what you have to do the same. You adapt to the situation. We have a young core, but they’re getting better with each season. “They’re getting stronger physically and reaching their potential. I think that we’re going to be a determined team once camp starts and I think you’ll see that translate on the ice once the season begins.”
And Hall plans, in his own little way, to help those younger players realize what it takes to reach that level where the Flyers are once again one of the premier teams in the NHL.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37