Kimmo Timonen or the Wounded Warrior as he should be known around Philly has been the backbone of the Flyers D since he was traded here in the summer following the 2006-2007 season. Kimmo has been the definition of a hockey player battling numerous injuries every season yet suiting up for the orange and black no less then 76 games a year. For the last 5 seasons his name could be found yearly on the injury report following the season. He’s as tough as they come and when his career is over I believe he will compared favorably to Nik Lidstrom. Both shut down defensemen. Both former Olympians. Both future Hall of Famers. Timonen no doubt does not get as much credit as Mr. Lidstrom, but that’s partially because he played in a small market (Nashville) for the bulk of his NHL career and because he lacks the rings that Nik has. Nik also has a slight advantage in offensive upside.
As Kimmo expressed at the end of this season he is not sure how many more years he has in him. My bet is just one. I believe that the situation Timonen is in right now (one year left on his deal, 37 years old, multiple injuries in recent years) leaves him looking down the barrel of retirement. This could all change of course. If next season were to bring say an extended playoff run and for Kimmo personally an almost injury free season he may be interested in signing a one or two year extension. It’s just going to be nearly impossible to ask him to play as minutes as he has in recent years and expect him to be healthy come playoff time. This season, if we are looking to make a lengthy playoff appearance, we need Kimmo to be going close to full pace in the playoffs. This means that the likes of Grossmann and Coburn need to take it up a notch during the regular season so Laviolette is not forced to overplay Timonen. This is also all contingent on what Pronger’s story is coming into training camp. The day that we got Big Prongs I could see the weight being lifted off of Kimmo and then the day he went back on the IR with concussion like symptoms I saw that weight re-appear on the back of #44.
The Flyers D next season will be anchored by Timonen, Coburn, Grossmann and Meszaros. That’s of course assuming Pronger’s out. That top 4 is not bad at all. If you throw Pronger back in the mix that’s a lethal set of defensemen. The 6th d-man will probably be Gustafsson. He played well when he’s had the chance and is young and cheap. This of course leaves out Matt Carle as the Flyers may not re-sign him. If they want to go after a top d-man free agent or if they want to spend his cap hit elsewhere, possibly a new back-up goalie, they will not re-sign him. Overall though the Flyers D should be strong next season and I wouldn’t doubt that if Snider wants a top free agent d-man Snider will get a top free agent d-man.
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