• May 27, 2022

Flyers Less and Less Likely to Alter Roster Before Training Camp

As the days and weeks wind down before training camp opens in September, the list of available free agents begins to dwindle down to the underachievers, injury question marks, over-the-hill veterans and occasional diamonds in the rough.

It was announced today that forward Lee Stempniak signed with the Phoenix Coyotes and left winger Tim Kennedy signed with the New York Rangers (I had personally hoped the Flyers would extend an offer to the latter). Stempniak, 27, floundered with the Toronto Maple Leafs and flourished with the ‘Yotes after being traded. Stempniak scored 14 goals in 18 games in March, earning the Player of the Month title from the NHL. Kennedy was signed this offseason by the Buffalo Sabres after going through arbitration, only to be waived and bought out days later. With 10 goals and 16 assists last season, Kennedy is a depth player with high potential upside.

I remarked after the Gagne-for-Walker trade that general manager Paul Holmgren would not likely head to training camp with eight defensemen. It now appears that I was wrong, as there are less whispers floating around involving the Flyers and by all indications, the Flyers expect their 14th forward to come from their available Phantoms and prospects. Last season, rookies James Van Riemsdyk and Mika Pyörälä won roster spots based on their preseason performance, and it now looks as though preseason performance will once again define the 2010-2011 Flyers roster.

It’s still possible that the organization extends tryout offers to one or two of the remaining free agents. The Flyers extended tryout offers two weeks before last year’s training camp to forwards Mark Bell and Blair Betts. It was unlikely that Betts would not be signed by the Flyers, given his reputation as a high face-off winner, a premier penalty killer, and a defensively responsible forward (which the Flyers were in need of). Bell had been a 20-30 goal scorer in the past, but was coming back from the NHL substance-abuse program after a drunk-driving arrest. Bell’s refusal to accept a two-way contract sealed his fate, as the Flyers had no intentions of dealing with his attitude.

That being said, the only positions that could arguably be improved are the third-line right winger and goaltender. Many of the free agent forwards available who would serve as good depth signings (Mike Comrie, Kyle Wellwood, Brendan Morrison) are centers, while veterans Bill Guerin and Owen Nolan will likely be looking for more than the $900K that the Flyers have available.

The only two goaltenders really left, meanwhile, are Antti Niemi and Jose Theodore. Niemi would be a terrible fit considering how the locker room would not know how to treat both him and goaltender Michael Leighton and would simply not be affordable. Theodore could possibly be signed to a low-cost, one-year salary if he doesn’t feel like touring the wonderful venues in Europe. Theodore, at the very least, could push Leighton into becoming the #1 guy that the Flyers hope he will turn out to be, but isn’t really that much of an improvement over goaltender Brian Boucher.

Needless to say, it’s going to be a very long three weeks.

Josh Janet

Josh Janet was raised in Northern New Jersey, but by an odd set of circumstances, is a Philadelphia sports fan. While recently converted to the Phillies, Josh is a diehard Flyers fan and can be expected to stay on top of the latest NHL news.

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One Comment

  • Josh, I think Kennedy would have been a nice add too. I like how the Sabres always put together squads with no superstars but a bunch of quality, solid players. Kennedy fits that mold. You don’t think Guerin would take a little bit of a paycut to play with us/contenders?? I guess he could’ve done that with Pitt too though…

    Although, cut Matt Walker or permanently bury him in the minors and we’re in business.

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