The Philadelphia Flyers' first goal when they went into the offseason was to upgrade their defense. With Chris Pronger's future uncertain and 37-year-old Kimmo Timonen entering the last year of his contract, they were hoping to find a big-time piece to fill at least one of those big-time holes.
On Tuesday, their hopes were dashed again as the Nashville Predators matched the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet the Flyers signed Shea Weber to July 18.
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In a summer that has seen the Flyers lose far more than they've gained, what can they do next?
Defense still needs to be addressed. Pronger is unlikely to play again after sustaining a serious concussion last season. Timonen was an All-Star last season, playing through back issues that limited him to 76 games -- the first games he had missed in three seasons. Carle's departure also leaves a hole that won't be filled easily.
Luke Schenn, acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs in late June in exchange for forward James van Riemsdyk, is more of a defensive-minded player who can supply some of the physicality the Flyers lose in Pronger. Schenn led the Maple Leafs last season with 270 hits and was third with 115 blocked shots. He had what many considered a down season in 2011-12, but a change of scenery -- not to mention a chance to play with his brother Brayden -- could put him back to being the player who smoothly blended physical play with a personal-best five goals and 22 points in 2010-11.
Options from within appear to be the Flyers' best solution to fixing any defensive deficiencies they feel they have -- the options on the free-agent market aren't appealing. The highest scoring blueliner among unrestricted free agents is Matt Gilroy, who had 20 points in 67 games for the Ottawa Senators.
The Flyers could pursue another restricted free agent -- options include the Rangers' Michael Del Zotto, Washington's John Carlson, Florida's Dmitry Kulikov and Montreal's P.K. Subban. But as the Flyers discovered with the Weber decision, that's a tough course to travel.
Defense isn't the only place the Flyers have tried to upgrade this summer. They took a shot at free-agent forward Zach Parise, but he landed with Suter in Minnesota. Compounding matters, the decision to pursue Parise and Suter led to the departure of Jaromir Jagr, who signed with the Dallas Stars and said having to wait for a resolution to the Parise/Suter chase led him to question the Flyers' interest in re-signing him.
The departures of Jagr and van Riemsdyk -- injured last season but a 20-goal threat when healthy before being dealt to Toronto for Schenn -- have left a spot for a top-six forward. With Parise out of the picture, they Flyers have turned their attention to Shane Doan. The longtime Phoenix Coyotes captain reportedly toured the team's facilities last week, but through his agent Doan has stated his first choice is to remain with the Coyotes. If Doan does opt to leave, the Flyers won't be alone in competing for his services -- among the other teams reportedly interested are the Penguins, Rangers, Sharks and Kings.
As with defense, the options on the free-agent market beyond Doan aren't all that appealing. Alexander Semin was a 40-goal scorer two years ago, but questions about his work ethic and desire have kept teams from showing a lot of interest. Other options include Petr Sykora (21 goals) and Jason Arnott (17 goals).
The trade market could be an option, with the Anaheim Ducks reportedly listening to offers for Bobby Ryan, who grew up near Philadelphia. However, the asking price in return could include young forwards Sean Couturier and/or Brayden Schenn -- two pieces the Flyers have no interest in parting with.
The Flyers did sign versatile forward Ruslan Fedotenko, but he fits as a bottom-six forward who can occasionally step into a larger role. However, the way the Flyers have attempted to chase the big fish this summer, it shows their goals lie higher.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK