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Holmgren Weighing Options Prior to Draft Day

by Kevin Kurz / Philadelphia Flyers
(Voorhees, NJ, June 18) – Although Paul Holmgren has essentially been running the Philadelphia Flyers draft for several years now, this year will mark the first time the still- new-on-the-job general manager has complete control over what the club will or will not do with its draft picks.

One of those options was exercised on Monday, when Holmgren shrewdly traded the 23rd overall pick (previously acquired in the Peter Forsberg trade) back to Nashville in exchange for the rights to All-Star defenseman Kimmo Timonen and left wing Scott Hartnell. Both players were set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

Still, Holmgren will probably continue to get offers for the second overall pick right up until the time comes for the Flyers to select during the first round on Friday.
Paul Holmgren

“I think it’s fair to say that as we get closer to the draft, we’ll find out a little more about options we’ll have with that pick, whether it’s to move back or maybe use that pick to package for a player that can help us,” said Holmgren on Monday morning from the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone. “If we end up using that pick and taking a player, I know we’re going to get a good player so I feel comfortable with it.”

Having said that, trading away the number two overall pick would have to be the absolute right deal for the Flyers. Although this draft doesn’t include a Sidney Crosby-type player, whoever is chosen second overall will still be a very highly regarded prospect.

“Unless that guy [you acquire] is really going to be a good player for you for a few years, you’ve got to be really careful,” said Holmgren. “It is certainly something we look at, because as an organization we need to look at anything and everything that can potentially help our team quickly, but at the same time we need to be careful.

“I would hate [to acquire] a guy that’s 33 years old, and give up a 17-or 18-year-old kid that’s going to be a good player.”

Holmgren stressed that in the salary cap world of the NHL, teams must continue to do their research prior to the draft as well as develop their own players.

“It’s fair to say that the Flyers, in this new era, have to continue to draft well, continue to develop players and at the right time add through free agency,” he said.  “I think that’s a good model to utilize or stick by.

“The game’s changed. You can’t just go buy all the free agents you want because of the salary cap. You need to have a steady flow of young guys coming up.”

Pitkanen Going to Arbitration

Holmgren also announced Monday that the club will file for arbitration with restricted free agent defenseman Joni Pitkanen.

“We have actually exercised our right and filed arbitration,” said Holmgren. “It had to be done by the fifth [of July].”

He also quashed any rumors of trading the still-developing defenseman to Edmonton, a deal that had been making news north of the border.

“All that stuff came out in the newspaper with Edmonton.  It’s funny.  We had never once talked to Edmonton about Joni and it came out in the paper,” he said.
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