Today is the day that we bid farewell to two of the highest paid Flyers, Ilya Bryzgalov and Danny Briere, as the team will exercise their two compliance buyouts on them. This leaves a gaping hole in net (one could argue there’s been a gaping hole there for 15 or so years, though) and one fewer center on a team that arguably has too many centers.
But do they?
Claude Giroux can play wing and The team has toyed with the idea of moving Brayden Schenn there too. Beyond Scott Laughton and maybe Nick Cousins, there is little in the way of organizational depth down the middle.
Considering the team is losing two veterans, including one locker room leader, and will lose another big leader if/when Kimmo Timonen retires, maybe there is some room for strong veteran presence down the middle.
The three immediate options that come to mind are former Flyer, Jaromir Jagr, soon-to-be-bought-out Vinny Lecavalier, and pending free agent, Jarome Iginla, who is a prototypical Flyer albeit a little too late in the game to seriously consider him.
Any or all three of these players could come at a hefty price, unless they sign with a team that really suits them best, and that price tag could hinder the Flyers ability to bolster the blueline or sign a goalie.
Still, look at the impact that Jagr had on the Flyers during his one season here. His work ethic is outstanding and that trickled down to every player on the team and was especially noticeable in Scott Hartnell and even Claude Giroux. The team was better conditioned with Jagr around than they were this past season without him. Even if Jagr may run out of gas as the season lingers on, his impact will last.
Vinny is injury prone but can still play at a fairly dominant level and would quickly leap over my desire to re-sign Simon Gagne or bring in Viktor Stalberg. Heck, I’d rather have him than Bobby Ryan in a fair trade. (Remember, Ryan wants to sign here and will be a free agent soon enough.)
Beyond that, if the Flyers are to sign any forwards, the best options are the ones right under their nose. The late season additions of Simon Gagne and Adam Hall gave the Flyers a terrific bottom six — one that perhaps rivaled the days when Ian Laperriere, Blair Betts, and Dan Carcillo (yup) owned the opposition.
Even though there are pressing needs behind the blueline, the offense is not perfect and the loss of Ruslan Fedotenko will hurt the team. Re-signing Gagne and Hall are overlooked but important priorities. The bottom six is important to helping team defense. Additionally, I would argue that re-signing the aging Jagr would help in that regard too.
Adding Lecavalier would be a luxury but, at the right price, he could be a solid mentor for many of our young forwards while still helping out the offense tremendously.
Remember, while the defense was bad last season — and worse than it should have been because of the great number of injuries — team defense was also a huge issue. Let’s not forget to keep that as a priority.