Flyers extend long-term offers to Parise, Suter
If you were expecting the Flyers to have another blowout extravaganza on the opening day of NHL free agency, then Sunday afternoon’s re-signing of Michael Leighton was a huge letdown (see story)
But, to borrow from another sport, that doesn’t mean the Flyers won’t hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.
General manager Paul Holmgren submitted offers to defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Zach Parise.
So did scores of other NHL clubs.
Still, neither Suter nor Parise nor their camps have indicated either player wants to sign as a Flyer.
Sources said the Flyers made the same 12-year offer to both players, deals in excess of $80 million and perhaps as high as $110 million. Their offer is for more money than any other, sources say.
The Penguins, Red Wings and Wild represent the stiffest competition. Each of them are believed to have submitted long-term offers, albeit, for fewer dollars. Both players are expected to make their decisions on Monday or Tuesday.
The Flyers also made yet another pitch to re-sign defenseman Matt Carle. His agent, Kurt Overhardt, had no comment. Carle won’t sign anywhere until Suter’s fate is determined. That can drive his price up.
Jaromir Jagr? He got 21 offers. His agent, Petr Svoboda, said the Flyers were still in the hunt (see story)
When the day ended, all those players were still on the open market.
As for for potential trades, any deal with Anaheim for Bobby Ryan seems to have died at the draft.
Then there's Rick Nash. Having failed Saturday, the Flyers will wait to see what happens with Parise before addressing the Columbus forward again.
The only area the Flyers addressed was to re-sign Leighton as the backup to goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
Leighton agreed to a one-year, $900,000 deal. That price is a bargain, given that the Flyers went into free agency with only about $12 million to play with.
Clearly, Holmgren decided to stash cash in their offers to Parise and Suter. Now, if they lose out on both, they still have cap dollars to spend throughout the rest of the summer, but player availability could become an issue.
For his part, Leighton seemed happy.
“I signed and agreed to the deal before free agency,” Leighton admitted, adding he already knows Bryzgalov.
“We’ve had not a close relationship, but I knew him from the Anaheim organization,” Leighton said. “I know what kind of guy he is. He’s a nice guy and a good goalie and I’m looking forward to playing with him, and watching him and learning from him.”
Leighton spent last season with the Phantoms, recording a 14-12-3 record, 2.22 goals against average, and .918 save percentage in 30 games.
He did not appear in a single Flyers game and hasn’t played at the NHL level since 2010-11. Leighton’s lifetime GAA is an unimpressive 2.95 with a .902 save percentage.
He represents no threat to Bryzgalov, but wasn’t the best backup choice given that he’s far more comfortable in a starter’s role.
Chris Mason, who would have been an ideal upgrade as a backup, signed a 1-year, $1.25 million deal with Nashville.
“The last two seasons, I was put in a spot because of injuries,” Leighton said. “What Homer did and why he did it was tough for me, but I’m happy to come back to the NHL.
“For me, to be a backup, I’ve done it before. I have to work hard and show the team that I’m ready to go in if they need me.”
Leighton was an effective goalie, who rescued the Flyers in 2009-10 and was played a large role in the team making the Stanley Cup Final.
Unfortunately, his mediocre play during the Cup Final after a spectacular conference finals series against Montreal cost the franchise a chance at winning a third Stanley Cup.
Leighton admitted the series-ending, brutal overtime goal to Chicago’s Patrick Kane still haunts him.
“Obviously, you think about it,” he said. “To be that close to winning the Stanley Cup and lose that way is tough. It’s going to be on my mind the rest of my life.
“In a way, it’s helped me. It’s made me change a few things about my game. And make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
“There’s a lot of fans who are still sour about it. Obviously, I’m not happy about the way things went either. What happened, happened. I have to move on in my life and this is a good step for me.” E-mail Tim Panaccio at firstname.lastname@example.org