Ryan Suter…Strike one. Zach Parise…Strike two. Jaromir Jagr…Strike three, you’re out, Mr. Holmgren.
We in Flyerdom find ourselves in a strange situation as of mid-July in 2012. The Flyers’ big free agent signing 11 days in has been bottom-six forward and old friend Ruslan Fedotenko. Holmgren failed to make meaningful contact with the two marquee free agents in Suter and Parise (although, if you have read my articles, you know I don’t believe Suter was a marquee free agent). Furthermore, the Flyers blew their chances in retaining Matt Carle.
I believed Holmgren when he said that he believed that he could have signed Carle to a contract below market value. The issue was that Holmgren did not make Carle feel wanted. I believe the old saying is: “don’t make someone your priority when they are making you their option.” Carle felt like the second fiddle to Ryan Suter in the Flyers plans, so he bolted to Tampa Bay for greener pastures.
So where do the Flyers go from here?
What is left for these Flyers in free agency? Shane Doan? Alexander Semin? Don’t count on it. Doan has a preference to stay on the West Coast, while Semin does not fit Peter Laviolette’s system (or many others for that matter). Can you recall the last time the Flyers had been not-so-successful in the free agency market? A year where they failed to land a known and valuable target?
The answer: 2006, when the Flyers “big” acquisition was defenseman Nolan Baumgartner, whom they signed away from Vancouver for $2.4 million over two years. Baumgartner would be released the same year. Six years later, the Flyers have been shut out again.
But is this necessarily a bad thing? Maybe this is the start of a new strategy that Holmgren is employing. It’s gotta be better than the one where he signs players to long-term deals and then casts them upon the wind three years in. As we all know, Holmgren has tinkered with the Flyers lineup drastically the last two years. Maybe, Homer is keeping his cap space to make a big move at the trade deadline (Hello, Bobby Ryan). Or maybe he is holding is money to make a run at Nashville all-world defenseman Shea Weber.
Whatever path Holmgren chooses, this is definitely a different Flyers off-season strategy than we’ve seen in the past — but one at least that’s not going to give us all cardiac episodes.