It's not too late for Flyers to add depth on D
Most summers, when August rolls around, it starts to get a little late for free agent signings.
Yet because there is a very real possibility that the 2012-13 season will not begin on time, clubs have the luxury of waiting deeper into the summer and even fall to fill out rosters.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren made two stabs at fortifying his defense by trying to sign Ryan Suter, then Shea Weber, in free agency.
While there is a perception out there that the Flyers have too many defensemen, the fact is, they may have depth, but they lack superior depth. As CSN hockey analyst Rick Tocchet said recently, their defense is “serviceable” but could be better.
Remember, the Flyers went into last fall with a healthy Chris Pronger, a healthy Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros, and with Matt Carle as Pronger’s partner.
Right now, they have no Pronger, no Carle, and Meszaros, according Holmgren is “fine,” but he didn’t play healthy in the playoffs and needs to prove his health on the ice. Timonen himself comes into the fall off back surgery.
When Nashville matched the Flyers' restricted free agent offer sheet for Weber, a genuine pall came over Flyerdom.
Weber would have been the ultimate guarantee of defensive stability had the Flyers gotten him.
“I think when you look at a guy like Shea Weber, there are probably a lot of teams that wish they had a player of his caliber on their club,” coach Peter Laviolette said.
“Our team moved forward without Shea [Weber] last year. We dealt with certain injuries and things that I think our club had to overcome. We used a lot of good, young defensemen and a lot of good players.
“I am excited about the players that we brought into the fold this year. I think it is going to be an exciting time to be building it back up from where we left off and adding the new players to the mix. I feel good about the players that we have under contract and moving forward.”
There are still a number of defensive upgrades available in free agency – none of whom are in Suter or Weber’s category.
Also, given Holmgren was willing to trade with Nashville to secure Weber, there’s nothing to prevent him from contacting, say, San Jose and inquiring about either Dan Boyle, who would have to waive his no-trade or Douglas Murray, who will be the top unrestricted free agent defenseman next season.
Holmgren could also call Montreal about restricted free agent P.K. Subban. The Habs made a two-year offer to Subban this week, but he hasn't yet accepted it.
Bottom line? The one thing the Flyers – and other clubs – have on their side right now is time to plot their next move. E-mail Tim Panaccio at email@example.com