Philadelphia Flyers: 10 Free Agents Team Must Chase This Offseason
After a prosperous 2011-2012 regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers had a weird playoffs experience, to say the least.
While they won a chippy and hard-fought series against the hated Pittsburgh Penguins, the rookie-led team failed to show up in the next round against the eventual Stanley Cup Finals runner-up New Jersey Devils.
As is the case with every franchise, the Flyers and their front office will have an offseason filled with questions that need to be answered. Will Jaromir Jagr come back? Should James van Riemsdyk be traded? Can they afford to keep Pavel Kubina and Matt Carle around? Who will free agency bring to Wells Fargo Center?
All of these inquiries and many more will be answered in the following months by GM Paul Holmgren. But for now, let's take a look at 10 free agents the Broad Street Bullies should reach out to this summer.
Shea Weber, D (Nashville)
With defensemen Matt Carle and Pavel Kubina probably on their ways out of Philly, and Chris Pronger likely never recovering from injury, Holmgren needs to go out and get a veteran star to fill in the back line.
While Shea Weber is a restricted free agent and probably not a reasonable addition to the Flyers' cap space, is everything you want in a defender, and he would change the face of Philadelphia's defense, if acquired.
With just one year remaining on a deal that pays him $7.5 million annually, Weber could only be acquired via trade. Considering he's one of the best defenders in the game, the Flyers would need to part ways with some big time prospects and draft picks, and possibly James van Riemsdyk and/or Sergei Bobrovsky.
Weber's combination of size and skill is extremely rare in defenders these days, and the Flyers' front office would be fools not to put an offer in for him.
Ryan Suter, D (Nashville)
Ryan Suter is a perfect fit in Philly and has been talked about by fans ever since the Flyers were bounced out of the playoffs.
Suter has been a crucial component to the Nashville Predators over the past seven seasons, as evidenced by his plus-15 mark this last year.
The only problem is the Nashville defenseman will demand a lump sum of cash, and it's not a sure thing that the Flyers can afford him with their current cap situation.
However, Suter is the kind of defenseman who would make every player around him better, and he has stayed healthy over his career, so injuries are not an issue.
It would be a monumental moment for the Flyers if their GM could reel in Suter without completely draining their cap space, considering they do have other needs.
Barret Jackman, D (St. Louis)
With Brad Stuart returning to the San Jose Sharks, Barret Jackman would be a plan B for the Flyers, should they lose out on obtaining Suter.
The veteran defender had a quietly good 2011-2012 campaign, compiling a plus-20 mark and assisting his teammates on 12 different occasions.
Also, Jackman was an alternate captain for the St. Louis Blues last season and could bring a sense of leadership to the Flyers defense that has been missing since the injury to Chris Pronger.
Dennis Wideman, D (Washington)
Just two years older than Suter, Washington defenseman Dennis Wideman would prove to be a valuable asset to the Flyers, should free agency land him on Philly's blue line.
Wideman tied for third-most points on the Capitals last season with 46, showing that he can bring some serious offense to the table from the defensive zone.
Also, what's most impressive about the defenseman is his success on the power play. In the past two seasons, 42 of his 86 total points have come off the power play.
Having just missed 17 games over the last five seasons, Wideman would provide the Flyers with an offensive-minded defenseman with the durability to last a whole season.
Bryan Allen, D (Carolina)
Yup, that's Carolina Hurricane defenseman Bryan Allen getting his hands full during a scrap.
A big, bruising defender, Allen would fit right in at the Wells Fargo Center in black and orange.
The 31-year-old Allen had a minus-1 mark last season but has proven his effectiveness and ability to stay healthy the past three seasons, making him a valuable and cheap pickup.
Even if the Bullies obtain Suter or Jackman, the fourth-overall pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft would be a great addition, and his 6-foot-5 frame would work well on a line with Meszaros or Gustafsson in 2012-2013.
While he won't be a flashy signing by the Flyers, and it probably won't gain that much press, Allen has a wealth of experience and should run Philly less than $3 million.
Erik Johnson, D (Colorado)
While he's not Shea Weber or Ryan Suter, Colorado Avalanche defender Erik Johnson is a fantastic defenseman and a restricted free agent the Flyers should target.
At only 24 years old, Johnson has the ceiling to improve, though he already has contributed so much.
Not only is the Colorado man a superb defender, but also he's lethal on the offensive end, something the Flyers love from their backline players.
After leading all Colorado defensemen with 26 points last season, Johnson has performed in a variety of situations and has totaled 55 points on the power play over the past four seasons.
Justin Schultz, D (Anaheim)
One guy who has garnered a lot of buzz recently has been youngster Justin Schultz.
Schultz is a defenseman who was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft but has not yet signed a contract.
The Wisconsin product has broken out as an offensive-oriented defenseman who has been the highest scoring defenseman in the NCAA in each of the past two seasons.
Schultz is known for making creative, confident passes up the ice and maneuvering the puck well within the defensive zone.
If the Ducks don't sign this phenom-in-the-making, the Flyers should take a chance on him, seeing that he has the potential to be the next big offensive defenseman.
Zach Parise, W (New Jersey)
Even though they may have to trade Bobrovsky and/or JVR to create cap space, the Flyers should do so if they have the chance to sign a guy like Zach Parise.
As it stands right now, the Flyers have roughly $12 million in cap space to spend on free agents this offseason, and that includes re-signing Jakub Voracek and Marc-Andre Bourdon.
Parise, if signed by the Flyers, would be a $6 million cap hit, as opposed to Ryan Suter's hit of about $3.5 million.
Because of the team's need to bolster their defense, the Flyers and fans would probably prefer Suter over Parise, but the Devils' captain would be an intriguing addition.
Averaging 35 goals over the past five seasons, Parise would become a fan favorite in Philly with his speed and tenacity.
Ray Whitney, W (Phoenix)
Yes, you may say that Ray Whitney is old, but hear me out.
While it may have went unnoticed, Whitney played pretty well for the Coyotes in the playoffs this year. In 16 games, he scored two goals and dished out five assists as he contributed to Phoenix's surprising run.
Why would we need a guy like Ray Whitney though?
Well, considering all the speculation that JVR is going to be traded and how Jagr may not come back, a veteran winger who possesses leadership skills and a knack for scoring goals could help fill that void.
Alexander Semin, W (Washington)
This is really far-fetched, but just imagine Alexander Semin in black and orange...
The Russian talent has been back and forth on the issue and doesn't have his mind made up whether or not he'll stay in Washington.
What we know, however, is that any NHL team would be improved with his skill on the attack, so the Flyers might as well take a gander at the wing.
This past season, Semin saw his production drop from 40 goals in 2009-2010 to 21 in 2011-2012. Despite this, the Russian wing still possesses the uncanny ability to put the puck in the net and should be considered by the Flyers if Parise and Suter don't work out.