Miscalculations put Flyers in position of weakness


This is been a summer of miscalculation for Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren and the trickle-down effect could be significant next season.

Holmgren and his staff miscalculated twice with regards to free agency. As we sit here on Independence Day, the Flyers are worse off than they were when the season ended in May.

Their first miscalculation was that Matt Carle could be re-signed for fewer real dollars because he liked the environment and was comfortable as a Flyer.

Not getting him under contract before the Ryan Suter sweeps began was a costly mistake that could add a million or more to the payroll for an undeserving player.

The clubs second miscalculation was that they could land Suter, when it seemed widely known that he didnt want to play in the Eastern Conference, despite what his agent, Neil Sheehy, was saying publicly.

The Flyers and the entire NHL learned a lesson this summerits not always about the money. There are other factors that sometimes override money.

Jordan Staal proved this by refusing to sign with Pittsburgh so he could force a trade to Carolina to play with his brother.

And now two American players, Suter and Parise, signed in Minnesota (see story), where life will be far less complicated and not quite under the microscope as it would have been in Philly.

They became a package deal with identical 13-year contracts for less money98 millionthan the Flyers offered (12 years, 100 million). The Star-Tribune and ESPN.com broke the stories of their signing today.

So, now the Flyers go to Plan B, which has been changing as free agency began as other players signed.

While the Flyers waited on Suter, Jason Garrison signed in Vancouver, although he appeared headed West anyway.

While the Flyers waited, Carles price went up and unless the Flyers want to now overpay, hes likely gone. Hell get at least 5.50 million per year or more now.

Parise would have more than made up for the departure of James van Riemsdyk and Jaromir Jagr, but now the market stiffens to replace Jagrs 54 points and JVRs size up front.

Whether the Flyers jump back into the fray to swing a trade with Columbus for Rick Nash seems doubtful. They still like Anaheims Bobby Ryan.

Ducks GM Bob Murray knows the Flyers are in a bind and will continue to insist on Brayden Schenn andor Sean Couturier, another player and picks.

Sources said Ryan is a more likely target if the Flyers spend big bucks for a winger.

Now, if Shane Doan wants to leave Phoenix, the Flyers would love to have him. So would the Rangers.

Defensively, Chris Campoli (Montreal) and Carlo Colaiacovo (St. Louis) would bolster the Flyers' blue line, but neither is better than Carle.

The Flyers could wait until 2013 to address their defense when Rob Scuderi (LA), Ryan Whitney (Edmonton), Tobias Enstrom (Winnipeg) and Jordan Leopold (Buffalo) become unrestricted, but thats dicey given their back end is weaker now even with the addition of Luke Schenn.

A Group II offer sheet to Nashvilles Shea Weber is always a possibility and the Flyers have already considered it.

But its just as likely Nashville GM David Poile would match that offer. Also, Weber probably would not even sign an offer sheet knowing it would be matched. The only realistic route to Weber is a trade.

All in all, as free agency resumes in full forces, Holmgren is now dealing from a position of weakness, not strength.

And thats something the Flyers arent accustomed to.

E-mail Tim Panaccio at tpanotch@comcast.net

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