Thursday, June 30, 2011
Posted: 5:26 p.m. Updated: 5:49 p.m.
By Tim PanaccioCSNPhilly.com
The Flyers will not submit an offer sheet for Steven Stamkos, the restricted free agent from Tampa Bay.
"We're not going to do anything on it," general manager Paul Holmgren told CSNPhilly.com after three days of internal debate with the Flyers' organization. "We explored it and decided it's not the way for us to go at this time.
"We're excited about the additions we made and the direction we're going right now. We'll explore things tomorrow when free agency begins but a restricted free agency offer sheet is not the way we will go."
Part of the problem here in making an offer was that the Flyers went two days without a clear consensus among their group as to whether it made sense because every indication was that Tampa Bay intended to match any offer it got for Stamkos.
The Flyers looked at the numbers and weren't sure whether it was fiscally sound to have Stamkos signed long-term to a contract that could have ranged from 8.5 million to 12 million, and took up a large percentage of their salary cap. There is talk throughout the NHL that the cap will have to be readjusted downward after next season because some clubs are having trouble already getting to the base floor of the cap, which is 48.3 million for 2011-12.
The other issue was how much salary the Flyers would have to move. Within their group, which consists of Holmgren, club president Peter Luukko, assistant GM Barry Hanrahan and chairman Ed Snider, the Flyers felt they would have to move two players to afford Stamkos.
There was also the issue of Tampa Bay having seven days to match, possibly dragging the procedure to the limit, whereby the Flyers would have to sit tight while unrestricted free agents they might favor in Plan B were plucked off the market.
We explored a lot of things because it was in the rules, Holmgren said. This was just the direction were taking down the road and were going to be looking around at noon on Friday in the unrestricted market.
But were not going to utilize the restricted free agent market, were not submitting an RFA sheet.
So heading into Friday, what they'll be looking for is a center who can play both second and third line.
Of course, the biggest name in free agency is 31-year-old center Brad Richards, whos going to command a long term deal maybe 8 years for 55 million depending upon who bids.
Hes a top centerman not a third liner.
From an organizational standpoint, it seems the Flyers are split on Richards and whether their cap dollars would be better spent elsewhere. Since they've turned away from Stamkos, it makes sense they might then shift toward Richards.
The Flyers lost two pretty good faceoff guys in Carter and Richards. They also lost size. Brad Richards is a stocky 6-foot and provides both.
Now, if the Flyers think Richards may be too expensive or if he decides he wants to be a Ranger, then the Flyers lower the bar in the middle. (Note: These players were all available as of June 29.)
Yet the one player who is a perfect fit is a former Flyer Michal Handzus, who earned 4 million with the Kings. He doesnt lose draws, hes strong on the puck, has size and he plays special teams.
Fans loved him in Philly, he was great on faceoffs and he played hurt and left it all out there, said one Flyer source.
Dont forget the Flyers still want to re-sign winger Ville Leino. Thats already gotten dicey because Tomas Kopecky just signed a four-year, 12 million contract with Florida. The Panthers had to overpay on salaries to get to the cap floor (48.3 million) this coming season.
If Kopecky can get that much, Leino can get more. And the Flyers dont appear willing to exceed 3.5 million a year with Leino.
While hes not a centerman, winger Erik Cole doesnt appear likely to re-sign in Carolina. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette would love to have him as a Flyer, and Cole reportedly would like being reunited with him. They won a Stanley Cup in Carolina.
If Cole is there and the dollars make sense, the Flyers will add him. If not, another player likely on their radar is Jamie Langenbrunner. The Flyers tried to get the winger last season before the Devils traded him.
Langenbrunner went back to Dallas. Interest on the Flyers part remains, nonetheless.
This much seems certain: When the off-season began, no one could have predicted that the Flyers, a team close to winning a Stanley Cup, would essentially gut the heart of their squad and begin a complete transformation.
Yet they have.
How far the transformation extends remains to be seen.