Versatile Bellemare a low-risk addition for Flyers

Versatile Bellemare a low-risk addition for Flyers

Ron Hextall's vision for the Flyers

June 11, 2014, 9:00 pm
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Pierre-Edouard Bellemare recorded 64 goals and 61 assists in 238 games over five seasons with Skelleftea of the Swedish Hockey League. (AP)

Virtually no one in the Flyers organization was happy with Steve Downie on Sean Couturier’s line this past season.

Once the Flyers all but gave away their best penalty-killing forward in Max Talbot for Downie, they needed someone to complement Couturier and Matt Read on their third line.

They went the entire season without getting what they wanted from Downie.

Which brings us to Wednesday’s intriguing signing of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to an NHL contract (see story).

In other words, it's low risk, positive upside and minimal cost. That’s what the Flyers get out of it.

“Yes,” general manager Ron Hextall texted to CSNPhilly.com.

The Flyers have precious, little salary cap room (about $6.5 million) this summer to upgrade their roster, while still re-signing some of their own players.

Bellemare may represent a European shot in the dark, but hey, Elke Sommer was a pretty good bet in 1964, so who knows?

“He’s a versatile player,” Hextall said. “Can kill penalties and adds depth to our forward group.”

The 29-year-old native of Paris -- yeah, Paris but he’s not an artist -- spent five seasons with Skelleftea of the Swedish Hockey League and already has become a cult figure answer to a future trivia question: Who scored the game-winning goal for France against Team Canada in the 2014 IIHF World Championship preliminary round?

That would be Bellemare, as France won 3-2 in the shootout. Bellemare was a point-a-game player in the World Championships through eight games.

The 6-foot, 196-pound forward amassed 64 goals and 61 assists for 125 points in 238 games over five seasons with Skelleftea.

Bottom line: The Flyers took a chance on Michael Raffl this season. He he turned into a pleasant surprise, winning the Pelle Lindbergh Trophy, as voted by his teammates for the most improved player.

In his first season of North American play (on any level), Raffl scored nine goals and had 22 points in 68 games.

Bellemare appears to be cut in the same mold, and will handle some of the same responsibilities as Raffl.

Eliteprospects.com said of Bellemarer: An offensive winger who plays in high speed. Has good stickhandling ability and a good shot. Finds open space well and always works hard. A good penalty killer. Can also play center effectively, thanks to a strong two-way game.

Though details of his contract remain unknown, it’s likely Bellemare signed a one-year contract worth about $700,000.

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