The scary but very real idea that this hockey season may start late is beginning to kick in as we roll into August. I fear the worst, but hope for the best. So as we wait for the sides to meet and then disband and then meet and then disband and then not meet and then schedule a meeting and never have it and then well you get it…I think we need to take a look at if the Flyers adding more D depth is necessary.
What they have now would no doubt be considered depth, but what does that depth consist of? Serviceable is how I would describe them. The Flyers have compiled a nice group of defensemen. They have some young guns (Schenn), some proven veterans (Timonen) and some 5th/6th defensemen type (Gervais). What they don’t have (as you’re probably well aware of) is a Pronger. Or at least a Pronger type. This offseason the Flyers attempted to spend outrageous amounts of money in 3 separate failed free agent signings 2 of them being for d-men. One was a Pronger type (Weber) and the other one although not a Pronger type would have significantly upgraded the Flyers D (Suter). The Flyers are not used to coming out empty handed in free agency. They get their man most of the time so this is uncharted territory for the Flyers. To lose out on Suter was one thing as he had made it clear he didn’t want to come east (meaning he did not want the pressure that comes with playing in those markets), but the Flyers really put all their eggs in one basket in the Weber offer sheet. It was all or nothing as much as Homer did not want to admit it. Our D is nice, serviceable, but it is missing that “it” factor. It’s missing the quarterback. Somebody that brings it all together. Weber would have been the perfect fit. The ideal situation. And Homer and Snider, I think, thought they had done it no matter how many times Poile claimed they would “match any offer.” It is what it is and that shipped has sailed so the question is who can the Flyers look at to improve their top 4 caliber d-men?
The Flyers were significantly better defensively going into last season then they are going into this season. They had Pronger and Timonen playing at full tilt plus Carle, Coburn and a healthy Meszaros. Pronger’s out, Kimmo is coming off back surgery and Carle’s gone.
There are no Weber’s on the market, free agent or trade, but what is out there could upgrade the amount of top 4 caliber d-men on the roster. Trade wise the Flyers could look at prying Douglas Murray from the Sharks. He will be the prized possession of free agent d-men market next offseason. Why not grab him up now and get him extended? He is older (32), but has some aspects to his game that the Flyers could use to their advantage. He can command the point on the powerplay and has a big shot. He also plays very well defensively despite his age and plays a physical brand of hockey. Keith Yandle is another name that has been tossed around. Yandle would replace Pronger’s offensive output as he is a monster point producer from the blueline. He had 43 points last season and 59 the season before. He is on a long contract, but the cap hit is only $5.25 per year. Free agency wise I still believe the best bet on the market is Carlo Colaiacovo. Unfortunately that doesn’t upgrade then area of the D that your looking to upgrade. It only adds to the stockpile of the 5th/6th type defensemen on the roster. The bottom line here is that if the Flyers want to significantly upgrade and add a top 4 caliber defensemen they are going to have to make a trade. Considering most trade offers proposed to the Flyers this offseason had Coots or Schenn’s name in it I am not sure Homer is willing to pull the trigger on any deal like that.