Actions show Holmgren has faith in Flyers' youth
VOORHEES, N.J. – General manager Paul Holmgren quite possibly could
have acquired Shea Weber, the Nashville Predators’ captain and All-Star defenseman.
And no, we’re not talking about the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet tendered by the Flyers last Wednesday that Weber signed. Holmgren perhaps could have obtained the 26-year-old blueliner a week or two ago had he been willing to do so via a trade. Multiple reports indicated Nashville GM David Poile was interested in young Flyers Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier.
But, understandably, it was important to Holmgren to keep both players – and other young standouts – in Philadelphia. And thus, the offer sheet was submitted and signed, and Nashville matched it. Weber remains a Predator.
“We believe we have a good, young team that is only going to continue to get better,” Holmgren said. “What we are trying to do is add to it without trying to take anything away. Anything we have done this summer has been just that.
“A caveat to that is, we will look and see what we can do to make our team better. But our mindset is: ‘We like our team.’”
It’s easy to see what Holmgren likes. Couturier, at only 19, was one of the biggest surprises of last season. The eighth-overall pick of the 2011 draft, he wasn’t supposed to make the Flyers’ roster – let alone be one of the best players on the ice during the team’s six-game playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Schenn, 20, had a bit of a tougher time but showed signs of greatness here and there during his rookie-year campaign. With his older brother Luke now a Flyer as well, Schenn is expected to have a stronger sophomore season. Holmgren made it clear with his actions that he would like to keep both players in orange and back going forward – at least for now.
“We don’t want to do anything to change course or blow things up,” Holmgren said. “As I continue to say, we believe we’ve got a good, young, up-and-coming team. It’s just going to continue to grow and get better. We really don’t want to mess with that. We’ve got good chemistry.”
Speaking of chemistry, Holmgren and Poile have a relationship that extends back years, to when Poile was general manager of the Washington Capitals in the ‘80s and ‘90s. That relationship suffered somewhat of a blow over the past week, first when trade talks between the Flyers and Predators deteriorated, and then when the Flyers went ahead with the offer sheet that was designed specifically to be too tough for Nashville to handle.
But Holmgren isn’t concerned that the fallout from the Weber situation will affect the GMs' relationship in any way.
“I know David's been around a long time. I doubt it [will affect our relationship],” Holmgren said. “I certainly respect David for what he's done, both in Washington and Nashville. I don't foresee any problems down the road.”
The Flyers now must turn to Plan C – whatever that is. Holmgren on Wednesday reaffirmed his dedication to improving the Flyers this off-season, but said he hopes to do so by making additions “without subtracting.” That means he wants to keep players like Schenn, Couturier and Jakub Voracek in Flyers' uniforms.
“As I said, there's still some players out there that are unrestricted players that we kind of like,” he said. “So we'll see what the rest of the summer brings. I think we'll have an idea on Shane Doan, whether he wants to return to Phoenix or not, very shortly. He's a player that we do have interest in.”
As for Rick Nash, a player the Flyers reportedly had sought to acquire earlier this year, Holmgren on Wednesday also cleared up the level of interest in the now-Rangers winger, now that his trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets in in the rear-view mirror.
“We stuck our toe on the water at the trade deadline,” Holmgren said. “A little bit again at the draft. Kind of hanging around the outside.”E-mail Sarah Baicker at firstname.lastname@example.org