Given the Flyers’ current cap situation, they are unlikely to make a splash in free agency unless they manage to shed a really big contract or two without taking back salary. This shouldn’t be an issue, though, as they don’t need to target the Ilya Kovalchuk’s of this UFA class. They need to add affordable depth.
The first thing the Flyers should do is to add some additional scoring punch to the third line and finally give Claude Giroux a viable, consistent threat on the wing. Vinnie Prospal is a reliable scorer that would have instant chemistry with Giroux. Prospal also played very well with Danny Brière in ’08 and could be moved around the lineup to fill gaps on any of the top three lines.
The Rangers will try to re-sign him. So, the Flyers will need to move quickly and make his return to Philly sound incredibly appealing: he doesn’t have many years left and his scoring touch could be the only thing standing between the Flyers and another Cup run. Holmgren might be able to convince him to return home to the team that drafted him. Prospal cost the Rangers about $1.1M. The Flyers could pay a premium in a bidding war against New York, but his price tag shouldn’t raise that much.
It has been reported that Mark Recchi is near a new deal with Boston. If this falls through, the ageless, future Hall of Famer would be another great option.
Philadelphia could also make a quick but significant upgrade to their defense via free agency by honing in on Phoenix’s Zbynek Michalek. The 26-year-old reliable defender would be an ideal addition to the Flyers defense. He can play big minutes, contribute offensively, and is solid in his own end. Since he plays in the desert, he might fly under the radar and would be a good steal for Philadelphia.
The Coyotes still have financial and ownership issues and over 20 free agents to consider re-signing this offseason. They are bound to lose some important players and it would behoove the Flyers to be aggressive in this situation too. If the Coyotes do not feel that they can retain him, Holmgren could swoop in and trade a piece like Ryan Parent his rights to negotiate a contract before he hits free agency. I think Michalek will sign a deal around $3M per year.
Paul Holmgren exceeds at making these types of moves (ie. Leino, Coburn, Betts, Laperriere, Prospal in ’08, Legein, etc.) and he should focus on doing more of the same this offseason. Two or three moves like these will do more good for the team than making a move for a big name goalie like Nabokov or Turco.