Through the years the Flyers have been used to making a splash in the offseason. They’ve signed players like Peter Forsberg, Danny Briere, Jaromir Jagr and Ilya Bryzgalov. They have traded for Chris Pronger, Andrej Meszaros and draft picks that became Joni Pitkanen and most recently Sean Couturier.
Yet through it all their trophy case has remained empty.
Maybe that’s why GM Paul Holmgren has come to the conclusion less might be more. Seeing his master plan of signing free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter for a reported 12 years and $100 million apiece fail to materialize when the pair elected the Minnesota Wild instead, Holmgren has put his wallet away.
Yes, he did sign 27-year-old defenseman Bruno Gervais and 33-year-old winger Ruslan Fedotenko Thursday to short-term deals. But those signings came at a pittance compared to what it would have cost to re-sign Jagr (one year/$4.5 million to Dallas) and defenseman Matt Carle (six years/$33 million to Tampa Bay)
Factor them into the equation with last week’s deal that brought Luke Schenn for James van Riemsdyk and Holmgren says he’s almost ready to go to war. Especially since he seems unwilling to gut the roster in a trade for either Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan.
“We have a lot of good young players that have tremendous potential,” said Holmgren. “We took a couple swings for the fences early on in free agency. We had to slide to Plan B, and we’re happy with the players we got in Plan B.”
Gervais and Fedotenko figure to be role players for the Flyers and Holmgren did confirm his desire to bring back Jagr and Carle — just not at the market price.
“We tried very hard to sign Matt Carle,” said Holmgren. “At the end of the day he decided to go elsewhere. And Jaromir was really good for us. But the maturation process of our group, and adding a solid guy like Ruslan to our forward mix, and a steady guy like Bruno on our back end. I think we’re still a good team.”