In early February the Philadelphia Flyers extended the heart of their defense corps, Kimmo Timonen, for one season. At the time, there was a fair share of debate as to whether it was the right move. As the Flyers inch closer to missing the playoffs, my distaste for the decision increases.
From a hockey perspective, it made perfect sense to re-sign the 38 year old defenseman. On a mightly struggling blueline, Timonen was a steadying presence. While you can argue he has lost a step, he is still an incredibly valuable member of the group. When you look at the defensive free agent market for thus upcoming summer, it makes even more sense.
After Alex Edler signed an extension in January, the free agent crop looked even more bleak. Timonen was quite clearly the top available name. The only other name that carries any weight is Mark Streit, who I personally do like as a player.
At one year and six million dollars, it was low risk for the Flyers. It doesn’t qualify as a 35-plus contract, and the six million dollar cap hit is pretty much market value. However, my issue at the time was strictly related to timing and I think that’s become an even bigger issue now.
While having Timonen for another season at six million dollars sounds ideal for next season, I just simply don’t understand why that needed to happen in early February. The Flyers didn’t receive any type of discount by signing him so early. They seemingly paid market value.
With all of the talk before the season about how Timonen would hold up in a condensed, shortened season, you would also think it would make sense to see how he would make it through the season before committing to another one. The Flyers didn’t opt to proceed in that manner.
But what really irks me is that here we are five days after the trading deadline and the Flyers are five points out of a playoff spot with 10 games to go. It remains incredibly unlikely that the Flyers will make the playoffs, and that was the case just prior to the trade deadline as well. Kimmo Timonen on an expiring contract would have been an extremely valuable piece to “sell” off.
With the shortened season the number of teams with A) cap space and B) a shot at the playoffs was so much greater than in your typical season. With teams having less days to spend their cap space, it meant most teams could pretty much afford whatever player they wanted.
Higher salary cap and shortened season allowed teams to bank cap dollars — and left fewer days to spend them. End result: more cap space.
— CapGeek (@capgeek) March 28, 2013
This is why the Penguins could add Brendan Morrow, Doug Murray, Jarome Iginla, and Jussi Jokinen quite easily. With more teams “buying” that meant demand is high, and so were the prices. Timonen would have been the most valuable defenseman available and the Flyers could have potentially received a nice return on a trade.
Timonen would get a chance to pursue a cup this season (something I’m sure we all would love to see him win…ideally in orange and black), and there’s no reason he couldn’t then sign his same one year deal back with Philadelphia in the offseason.
In what has been a very strange and disappointing season for the Philadelphia Flyers, the timing of this extension is a head-scratcher for me. I can’t help but question if it would have been better to wait.
At the cost of some potential valuable assets that they could have received in a trade, what did the Flyers get? It surely wasn’t a discount. Unless Timonen wasn’t open to returning to Philadelphia should he have been traded off, I don’t understand the need to sign him when they did.