No time to wait; Flyers expect to move fast!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 ·

The Flyers expect to begin their offseason rather quickly, regarding their restricted free agents: Jeff Carter, Randy Jones, and R.J. Umberger. In the upcoming week, Paul Holmgren and Peter Lukko will partake in a meeting discussing in depth what changed need to be made. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

First and foremost, the Flyers need to attempt to sign Jeff Carter, a player that could draw at least $5 million per season. Teams could over Group II offer sheets, along with Umberger, from other teams. If a team offers 4.6-5.89 million per year, the Flyers will receive 2 first round picks, a second round pick, and a third round pick. If teams offer more than 5.89 million, the Flyers would receive 4 first round picks as compensation. Anything under 4.6 million per year, the Flyers would likely match in a heartbeat. Jeff Carter turns 24 on January 1st.

Second, the Flyers should sign Randy Jones. Jones was one of the Flyers better defenseman in the playoffs. Jones will not command high level money, but if they can lock him up long-term now, it could be very valuable as he continues to develop into a top 4 defenseman. Jones turns 27 later this year, so he still has some youth on his side. He is also a RFA, so teams can attempt to sign him to an offer sheet, but no one will drastically over pay for him. He has taken a little while to develop.

Third, the Flyers should attempt to sign R.J. Umberger, who like Carter is a Group 2 free-agent. Umberger excelled against Montreal in the playoffs, but he's always been a gritty centerman, who can score with the right linemates. Umberger is more valuable on the penalty kill and playing against other teams bigger forwards. Umberger has been a very good defensive forward for the Flyers and the team needs to keep a guy like Umberger because they are a little weak defensively. Umberger also has very deceptive speed and does a decent job of finding the open man. He had 37 assists during the regular season. If the Flyers do sign Umberger and Carter, I'd expect Richards to move up to the top line to center Gagne and Briere, which would be an absolutely amazing first line. The Flyers are very deep at the forward position.

The team also needs to sign an enforcer, whether it be RFA Riley Cote or someone else.

If these three things happen, I could see the lines looking like this (if Gagne is healthy)
Gagne Richards Briere
Hartnell Carter Giroux
Upshall Umberger Lupul
Cote Downie Knuble

Knuble on the 4th line? Shocking, but that's just because of their depth. Knuble will still be on the PP units in front of the net. Now looking at the defenseman, we'd have this:

Timonen Coburn
Jones Hatcher (if he doesn't retire)
Parent Kukkonen

Parent's offseason is likely going to be the most important for the Flyers. I'd expect or hope Braydon Coburn would take Parent under his wing with his amazing offseason conditioning program. If Parent improves drastically he may become that 4th defenseman the Flyers are looking for.

There is a silver lining here," Luukko said. "Yes, we lost to Pittsburgh. But here was a young man [Parent] who got a chance to play very meaningful minutes and games. That will be tremendous experience for him going into training camp

Parent did very well in his three game opportunity during the playoffs. Parent was also the one who remained in the lineup over Jaroslav Modry.
We began looking today at the options we have," Luukko said. "Where do we go with our cap money, and what do we do with trades and re-signings, etc.? In many cases, it is combinations. When you have draft picks, cap room and players, you have options for trades and free agency signings and such. You can create options as you see fit if you are creative.

The Flyers have to attempt to work their magic this year to stay under the salary cap because they will have some relief next year when some larger contracts come off the payroll. If the Flyers do have the space after doing at least the first two things, they may look to sign a quick defenseman and accept the compensation they receive from Umberger.

What do you think the Flyers should do, feel free to comment.

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