May 2, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter (20) skates to the bench during a timeout in the first period of game three of the Western Conference semifinals of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Phoenix Coyotes at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators beat the Coyotes, 2-0. Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE

Offseason Outlook Part 2 - Free Agency

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The Philadelphia Flyers head into the offseason with a good idea of what their team will look like next season. Last offseason was a remodeling phase – I guess it was more like taking a wrecking ball to the whole house, but regardless what was built in its place, I believe, is a more complete product than what was there just a season before. This offseason will be more along the lines of painting and interior design. There are a few interesting names out in free agency that the Flyers may take a look at when July 1st rolls around.

I believe if the Flyers are big spenders in the free agent market this year it will be to bolster their blueline. There is no reason for them to go out and sign a Zach Parise. This Flyers team has one of the deepest offenses in recent memory. If Jagr does not resign I would not be opposed to the Flyers signing a relatively cheap 3rd line veteran type forward. Mike Knuble, Lee Stempniak and Tomas Holmstrom are all options for that role. It just has to be a winger as we already have too many true centers. All 3 of those players would bring a veteran presence to the team and they also bring relatively cheap cap hits (Knubles’ cap hit being the most last season at $2 million). Each one of these players would be an efficient replacement for Jagr.

Knuble last year was dragged through the mud by Dale Hunter as he was benched, scratched and relegated to 4th line duties for parts of the year. That being part of the reason he posted a 6/12/18 stat line in 72 games played. I believe with his confidence restored he will post numbers much like his stat line from 2 season ago – 24/16/40.

Stempniak posted a 14/14/28 stat line in 61 games played. This was playing with the lifeless Calgary offense. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think Stempniak will get near 50 points in a season again, but he is a serviceable veteran and playing with more talent around him will no doubt give his numbers a small boost at least.

Holmstrom last year posted a 11/13/24 stat line in 74 games last season. Not great numbers, but he did post 37 points and 45 points respectively in the 2 seasons prior to last season. He could get up around 35 points again I believe, but he would be playing on the 3rd line mostly anyway. He would be brought in mostly for a veteran presence.

Jagr last season posted a 19/35/54 line, but I believe his best work came in the form of helping G elevate his game to the next level. That’s why I would prefer they re-sign him, but if he does part ways (which will be because of a combination of dislike in the money/ice time he will receive) then the grizzled veterans listed above would be adequate replacements and leave the Flyers the cap room to possibly make another move for another point scoring forward or what they need more – a defensemen.

If for whatever reason Ryan Suter does not get signed the Flyers on July 1st then they should take a serious run at Jason Garrison. He is young, but not too young – 27 just the right age for a defensemen. He really showed a lot of signs of growth last season playing along side veteran Brian Campbell. A defensive corps next season consisting of Timonen, Coburn, Carle (assuming his deal gets done), Meszaros, Grossmann, and Garrison would be one of the best in the Eastern Conference if not the whole NHL. A team that makes a deep playoff always has to have super depth in their D. A team should aim to have a second and third pairing that are identical in talent. Teams that do not have that quality of defensemen on their third pairing run into trouble deep in the playoffs when all of a sudden that third pairing is exposed and you end up running 4 defensemen for large parts of games reference – Flyers 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.

Quick Shots

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Bob got shipped to hockey purgatory, aka Columbus, today. It’s good for Bob who will for sure battle Steve Mason for the number 1 spot there. Since Mason’s rookie year, where he posted Vezina type numbers (2.29/.916, 10 shutouts) and won the Calder Trophy, he has been erratic and highly inconsistent. Bob has been much more consistent over his career so far and at one point or another this season I expect him to be named the starting goalie of the Blue Jackets. He was not going to last long here as a back-up as he no doubt wants to and deserves to try his hand at a starting role again. It’s just a shame that it has to be the Blue Jackets.

-John LaMarra

Twitter – @popesnipes77

E-Mail – [email protected]

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