Friday, July 1, 2011
Posted: 12:33 p.m. Updated: 9:16 p.m.
By Sarah BaickerCSNPhilly.com
After multiple meetings between the Flyers and Ville Leinos agent Bill Zito failed to result in a deal, the winger signed a six-year, 27 million deal with the Buffalo Sabres instead.
The Flyers were unwilling to pay Leino more than about 3.5 million a year, but the 27-year-old and his agent long believed he was capable of bringing in more. Once the Florida Panthers signed Tomas Kopecky (a similar player, two years Leino's senior, who had poorer stats) to a four-year, 12-million deal and the Flyers agreed to a 3.3 million contract with Jaromir Jagr, Leino's chances of returning to Philadelphia had all but disappeared.
Zito and the Flyers had talked a number of times over the past few weeks, but those meetings were put on hold while the team considered whether to submit an offer sheet to Tampa Bay restricted free agent Steven Stamkos.
Earlier this week, general manager Paul Holmgren said yet again he had hoped the Flyers would be able to reach a deal with Leino, who registered 19 goals and 34 assists last season as part of the team's most consistently successful line made up of Leino, Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell. But it wasn't to be.
Versteeg traded for picks
The Flyers flurry of moves continued on Friday when they sent winger Kris Versteeg to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a second-round pick in 2012 or 2013 and a third-rounder in 2012.
Versteeg spent 27 games with the Flyers last season after being acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs in February. His cap hit was 3.083 million.
The 25-year-old had seven goals, four assists and was a plus-4 during the regular season and added a goal and five assists during the playoffs.
The cap space cleared by Versteegs trade will likely go toward efforts to sign Wayne Simmonds, the forward who came to Philadelphia as part of the deal that sent captain Mike Richards to the L.A. Kings.
Lilja, 35, played a complete season just once in his career, and spent last season with the Anaheim Ducks, where he registered one goal and six assists in 52 games.
"I think hes going to play a lot of games for us," Holmgren said. "You need a lot of defensemen over the course of 82 games. Hes one of the guys we picked and were excited to have him on our team because of the experience he brings from winning the Stanley Cup when he was in Detroit and the number of years hes played. Hes a useful guy and were happy we were able to get him."
O'Donnell heads to Chicago
Veteran defenseman Sean O'Donnell has signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks worth 850,000, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.
O'Donnell, 39, was the Flyers' sixth defenseman, and was known as a great presence in the team's locker room. The Flyers could have afforded his salary, but appear to be looking to add some youth on the blue line and will likely look to either Lilja or Oskars Bartulis to fill O'Donnell's spot.
Boucher to Carolina
Brian Boucher, who had completed his third stint with the Flyers this season, won't be back for 2011-12. Boucher has signed a two-year, 1.9 million deal with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Carcillo heads to Chicago
Dan Carcillo, who the Flyers acquired in a trade in March 2009, signed with the Chicago Blackhawks Friday in a one year, 775,000 deal.
E-mail Sarah Baicker at firstname.lastname@example.org
Related: Flyers sign Jaromir Jagr to one-year deal Flyers sign Talbot, another ex-Penguin free agent