The Flyers went into the offseason looking to upgrade on offense, defense and in goal.
They did all three things and stayed at about the same spot under the salary cap. That’s some good cap management by Paul Holmgren and his staff.
After buying out Danny Briere, they brought in Vincent Lecavalier – at a cap hit $2 million less.
After buying out Ilya Bryzgalov, they brought in Ray Emery. He and Steve Mason, the other goaltender who will battle for the No. 1 spot on the team, combined make $2 million less than Bryzgalov’s cap hit.
And while they paid big money for Mark Streit on defense, having not had to part with the defensemen already on the roster as many thought, The Flyers were able to use those savings from the other areas to upgrade their defense.
“We made a couple tough decisions with Danny and Ilya but I think we improved our team a lot,” Holmgren said. “We added a very good puck-moving defenseman who is going to help our team a lot and bring a lot to our back end. We added one of the better players in the NHL in my opinion in Vinny Lecavalier. Having him play in the middle for us either with Claude [Giroux] or with Sean [Couturier] as a 1-2-3 punch makes [both players] better just by him being there. Maybe he can play right wing or left wing with one of those guys from time to time. It gives us more looks and more options for our coach to try.
“Adding Ray to go along with Steve Mason solidifies our goaltending position and improves our team a lot. More importantly, we were able to keep our good nucleus together and we didn’t have to dismantle it.”
If anything now the Flyers are dealing with a surplus on the team now as they have excess talent both at forward and on defense – and Holmgren is adamant that he has a good defense, despite many opinions to the contrary.
“I want to add that we really like our defense,” Holmgren reiterated. “ We’re counting on [Braydon Coburn] and Andrej Meszaros and Nick Grossman to bounce back and have the kinds of years we expect them to have. We’ll be in good shape.”
Holmgren wouldn’t say that he signed Emery to be the No. 1 goalie, nor would he say that he signed them to be a backup. Holmgren is counting on the pairing to work in tandem for much of the season with one of them emerging as a starter at some point.
Holmgren added that the Flyers are really close to the salary cap and would be limited on further movement unless a trade possibility arose that made sense.
He did talk about the possibility of trading for Bobby Ryan, who was moved Friday from Anaheim to Ottawa for two prospects and a first round draft pick.
It was a steep price to pay, and one Holmgren wasn’t willing to consider, although he admitted he had talked to Anaheim a few times in the past 18 months about a possible deal for Ryan.
Finally, Holmgren denied a report that the Flyers were close to re-signing Simon Gagne and said that he didn’t think they were anywhere near getting a deal done anytime soon – if at all – with the popular Flyer.
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